Amaranth, an ancient grain, can be consumed on its own or ground into flour and used in baked goods. It's also gluten-free, making it a healthful alternative to wheat if you suffer from celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. Amaranth makes a healthful addition to your diet because of its rich nutritional profile.
Vitamins and Minerals
One cup of cooked amaranth grain has 116 mg of calcium, about 11 percent of the recommended 1,000 mg the Institute of Medicine recommends most adults consume daily. It also provides 160 mg of magnesium -- half of the recommended daily intake for women -- and 364 mg of phosphorus, or 52 percent of your daily intake requirements. Magnesium supports muscle function, while phosphorus contributes to health bones. Amaranth also provides 54 mcg of folate -- 14 percent of the recommended daily intake -- a nutrient necessary for red blood cell function and fetal development.
Amaranth serves as a good source of fiber, explains Jennifer Cinquepalmi, author of “The Complete Book of Gluten-Free Cooking.” One cooked cup of amaranth provides 5 g of fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends women consume a minimum of 25 g daily and men 38 g daily. Fiber helps with digestion, supports a healthy colon and may help lower cholesterol.
Amaranth also provides 9 grams of protein per serving, a source of amino acids needs for tissue maintainance. Amaranth doesn't contain every amino acid your body needs from your diet, but it is rich in the amino acid lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid necessary for proper growth, calcium absorption and collagen production. Combining amaranth with beans, peanuts or lentils to consume all the amino acids needed in your diet.
Cook amaranth in water or stock to make a side dish for poultry, fish or meat. Its nutty, malty taste makes it a satisfyingly healthy breakfast cereal. Add nuts, dried fruit and milk as you would to oatmeal. Pop the grains like popcorn or mix with other grains to create a nutritious pilaf. Amaranth flour is often an ingredient in gluten-free baked goods. Amaranth flour should be combined with other alternative grain flours, however, as too much amaranth on its own can result in muffins and quick breads with mushy, uncooked centers.
- University of Maryland: Lysine
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Calcium
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: B6
- "The Complete Book of Gluten-Free Cooking;" Jennifer Cinquepalmi; 2006
- Linus Pauling Institute: Magnesium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Phoshorus
- Linus Pauling Institute: Folic Acid
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.