Friday, December 31, 2010

Nutritional Value of Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus; grain amaranth)

A nutritious alternative to WHEAT. The tiny spherical seeds are the size of poppy seeds. Originally grown in Mexico as a staple food of the Aztecs, it was eaten in rituals of Native Americans until the Spanish conquest of Mexico, when its cultivation was outlawed.
Amaranth is now cultivated in the United States, and its excellent nutritional qualities account for its present popularity. Amaranth possesses a higher PROTEIN content than most CEREAL GRAINS; the nutritional value of amaranth protein approaches that of MILK. Its protein contains a high percentage of the essential AMINO ACID lysine, which is low in other grain proteins like wheat. Amaranth does not contain typical wheat ALLERGENS, nor does it contain GLUTEN; therefore, people allergic to wheat can often eat amaranth because it belongs to an unrelated plant family. Amaranth is available in health food stores as a whole grain, a FLOUR, and as CRACKERS and breakfast cereals. Amaranth flour has a nutty flavor and can be used to supplement wheat flour. Popped amaranth seed is mixed with honey to make a Mexican confection known as alegria. Amaranth species have also been cultivated in Asia as a source of greens (een choi in China, hiyu in Japan, and CHAULAI in India). One hundred grams of amaranth provides protein, 15 g; carbohydrate, 66 g; fiber, 4.5 g; fat, 5.7 g; and fat, 4.5 g.

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