6 Surprising Health Benefits of Amaranth

  • Superfood Amaranth blossom flowers field
    What to Know About This Ancient ‘Grain’
    Amaranth seeds may be tiny, but they offer big health benefits. The nutrient-dense leaves of this towering plant can also be eaten for their nutritional value. Amaranth can grow up to 9 feet tall, and its use as a food dates back thousands of years to the time of the Aztecs and indigenous American tribes. Amaranth is considered a whole grain, though it’s not actually a grain at all—it’s a seed. Despite this technicality, amaranth nutrition benefits are undeniable: protein, fiber, and a ton of therapeutic health potential. Learn more about why amaranth is a great addition to a healthy diet.
  • Gluten free sign in middle of grains and alternative flour products on wooden background
    1. Amaranth is gluten-free.
    Amaranth is a pseudocereal with health benefits similar to cereal grains. Unlike some grains, though, it contains no gluten, which is the offending protein that can cause intestinal distress in people with celiac disease or who have a gluten sensitivity. So these folks can enjoy the health benefits of amaranth without worrying about damaging their digestive system.
  • raw organic amaranth seed in wooden spoon and heaped on wooden table
    2. Amaranth is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.
    Like other pseudocereals such as quinoa and chia seeds, amaranth is a great source of plant-based protein, with about 5 to 7 grams per half-cup serving of cooked amaranth grain. (The exact amount of protein depends on the species). In fact, it’s considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t make and must get from food. Amaranth is a particularly good source of lysine, an amino acid that helps the body absorb calcium and form collagen. Many other grains don’t have much lysine.
  • Ancient grains, seeds, beans
    3. Amaranth provides necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber.
    If you need to add more insoluble fiber to your diet, amaranth is a great starting point. But that’s not all: A serving of cooked amaranth grain (about half a cup) provides 14% of your daily iron needs. It’s also a good plant-based source of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B2 and B6. Amaranth may also benefit your vision because of its high amounts of beta-carotene and lutein.
  • DNA mutations or  genetic disorder concept background
    4. Amaranth may have therapeutic benefits, including cancer prevention.
    Amaranth contains a peptide called lunasin that scientists think may have both anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. The bioactive peptides in amaranth may also help control blood pressure. Researchers have found that amaranth has antioxidant properties, meaning it helps protect cells against damage from free radicals and oxidative stress. Amaranth oil has been shown to reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • energy bar made with popped amaranth seeds on a wooden table
    5. Amaranth can be popped like popcorn for a nutritious snack.
    It’s not going to look like the big, fluffy popcorn you’re used to, but popped amaranth is a great whole-grain snack. It can be added to salads, yogurt, or eaten on its own with your choice of seasonings. Popped amaranth can also be mixed with something sweet and sticky, such as honey or molasses, to make a healthy homemade snack bar.
  • Amaranthus viridis Amaranthaceae blooming in garden
    6. Amaranth leaves also offer a nutritional punch.
    Amaranth benefits aren’t exclusively in the seeds. Just a cup of cooked amaranth leaves provides more than 20% of your daily calcium needs—a great plant-based choice for calcium if you’re avoiding dairy foods. The leaves are also a great source of iron and potassium, and they even have some protein. Amaranth leaves can be boiled and eaten just like spinach, either plain or tossed into soups or any recipes where you might normally add spinach or kale.
6 Surprising Health Benefits of Amaranth | Is Amaranth Gluten-Free?

About The Author

Ashley Festa is a Greenville, S.C.-based freelance writer and editor who has been writing professionally for nearly two decades. In addition to Healthgrades, she also has written for Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the University of Texas at Arlington School of Nursing and Health Innovation, and Fit Pregnancy magazine.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 21
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