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Herbal Supplements

What are the nutritional benefits of eating amaranth?

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  • AMichael T. Murray, Naturopathic Medicine, answered

    Amaranth seed's primary claim to fame is its unusually high protein content, particularly its content of respectable amounts of lysine and methionine, two essential amino acids that are not commonly found in grains. Just a cup of amaranth seed supplies 60 percent of an adult's daily requirement of protein. The protein provided by amaranth is well absorbed, too. In fact, cooked amaranth seed is 90 percent digestible. In addition, using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn, or brown rice provides a complete protein as high in food value as that of fish, red meat, or poultry. This tiny but nutritionally mighty seed outperforms whole wheat, not only when it comes to protein, but in the categories of fiber and healthy fats, and in a number of minerals and vitamins as well. The fiber content of amaranth is 25 percent higher than that of whole wheat (1/4-cup of dry amaranth seeds supplies 31 percent of the daily value of fiber); its iron and calcium content is five times that of whole wheat (1/4-cup of cooked amaranth seeds supplies 21 percent of iron's daily value); and it has twice as much magnesium. Amaranth seeds contain twice as much calcium as does milk, providing 7 percent of the daily value of calcium in a mere 1/4-cup. Also, amaranth seeds contain almost twice as much magnesium as calcium.

    Amaranth seeds are also an excellent source of vitamins B2, B3, and B5 and a very good source of vitamin B6 and folic acid. In addition, amaranth seeds are an excellent source of minerals. Aside from their iron and calcium content, cooked amaranth seeds supply 61 percent of the daily value of manganese in a 1/4-cup, along with 42 percent of the daily value of both copper and magnesium, 19 percent of the daily value of zinc, and 5 percent of the daily value of potassium.

    Amaranth seeds are also an excellent source of tocotrienols, a vitamin E fraction with numerous cardiovascular benefits, including cholesterol-lowering activity in humans. Last, unlike whole wheat and other grains, amaranth seeds' abundance of nutritional riches includes significant amounts of phytosterols, which research is beginning to show can play a major role in preventing chronic degenerative disease. Amaranth's leaves, nutritional stars in their own right, are an excellent source of minerals, too.

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