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Amaranth Grain

 The amaranth is originally from the continent of America. It formed the staple food of the Aztecs. Cultivation of this grain began 8000 years ago and there are three species being used for cultivation. Scientific names of these amaranth species are as follows: Amaranthus 

hypochondriacus, Amaranthus caudatus and Amaranthus cruentus. The number of amaranth species found in the world is 60, however, most of these are counted as weeds. Until the arrival of Spanish Conquistadors (in 1500s), amaranth was the main crop grown in Mexico. This plant species was almost wiped out of America. However, in few remote areas, cultivation of this cereal continued. It was in the 1970s that research on this plant began in the US. Today, the amaranth crop has spread across continents and is grown in different countries of Africa and Asia.

Amaranth Grain - Overview

The color of amaranth grain is light brown. Grains are the size of poppy seeds. The taste of amaranth seeds is sweet and nutty; and texture is a bit sticky. A single plant of amaranth produces 40,000 - 60,000 seeds. The Aztecs considered amaranth as a super food due to the high content of nutrients like proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. They also believed this food to possess magical properties. This grain was also included in the rituals that were part of Aztec culture and traditions.

There are many different uses of amaranths. Other than obtaining seeds this plant is used for ornamental purpose. In the Caribbean islands and Africa, this plant is used as pot herb. The amaranth grain is processed in many different forms. These grains can be used to prepare flakes, popcorn, etc; the seeds can be simply ground into flour. The high price of amaranth grain restricts its use in day-to-day life. The amaranth grains do not contain gluten. Preparing bread from these grains requires mixing its flour with that of other grains which contain gluten.

Amaranth Grain Nutrition

The amaranth grain is highly nutritious and it contains 14-16% of protein. Considering the fact that amaranth is a non-legume plant, this percentage of protein is definitely high. Lysine is an important amino acid present in high amounts in amaranths. It has been observed that most of the other grains don't possess this chemical in high amounts. Along with lysine, the other amino acids present in amaranth are cysteine and methionine. High fiber content is one of important amaranth grain benefits. The tocotrienol levels in amaranth are quite high, hence, the presence of this chemical offers dietary benefits. Out of the total Recommended Dietary Allowance of iron, 60% is obtained from a quarter cup of amaranth grain.

Amaranth Grain Cooking

Amaranth grains as stated above, have a sticky texture. Cooking these grains requires the use of about 3 times more water than what is needed for other grains. A simple procedure to show you how to cook amaranth is presented below.

To cook 1 cup of amaranth grains, one would require 3 cups of water. Half tsp. of salt, a saucepan and spoon would be the other items needed for cooking. 

The first step is to pour 3 cups water, 1 cup amaranth grains and ½ tsp. of salt in the saucepan and mix them together. The stove should be turned on and the mixture heated up to the boiling point. Once the boiling point is reached, the stove needs to be turned 'low'.

The mixture should be further heated for 25 minutes with lid placed on the saucepan. One should then examine the grains for proper moisture present in them. 

The stove should then be turned off and saucepan allowed to sit for 10 more minutes. 

The nutritional benefits along with uses of amaranth grain are presented in short in this article. The amaranth grain, owing to the high amount of proteins, is very nutritious. Many other facts related to amaranth are presented in this article. Information presented above, should therefore, prove to be useful.

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