Amaranth greens are nutritious, edible leafy vegetables of Central American origin. Amaranth leaves and grains were one of the staple foods of Aztecs and Incas in pre-Columbian times. Presently, its growth is mainly concentrated in tropical climates of Latin Americas, Asia and Africa.
Botanically, amaranth belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae, in the genus; Amaranthus. Scientific name: A. dubius.
Amaranth grows all around the world in the tropical and subtropical environments. Several cultivars of amaranth grown meant either for vegetable leaves or grain.
Botanically, amaranth species meant for its leaves are different from those grown for the purpose of grains (pseudocereals). Vegetable amaranths distinguished by features like short spike inflorescence, glossy, brownish-black seed, and indeterminate growth habit. A. tricolor and A. dubius are some of the important leafy-amaranths. Grain Amaranths are characterized by apical large inflorescence comprising aggregates of cymes and white or cream colored seeds. Grain Amaranths includes A. hypochondriacus, A. caudatus, A. cruentus, etc.
11 Amazing Benefits
1.Amaratnh leaves are storehouse for many phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins which contribute immensely to health and wellness.
2.Its greens carry just 23 calories/100g. Amaranth leaves contain only traces of fats and no cholesterol.
3.The leaves and stems carry a good amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. For the same reason, leafy greens including amaranth often recommended by dieticians in the cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
4.Fresh 100 g of leaf amaranth contains 29% DRI of iron. Iron is an essential trace element required by the human body for red blood cell (RBC’s) production and as a co-factor for the oxidation-reduction enzyme, cytochrome oxidase during the cellular metabolism.
5.Fresh amaranth leaves are one of the richest sources of vitamin-C. 100 g of fresh leaves carry 43.3 mg or 70% of recommended daily intake of this vitamin. Vitamin-C is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant which plays a vital role in wound healing and help fight against viral infections.
6.Amaranth has several vital antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-A (2917 IU or over 97% of daily recommended levels per 100 g) and flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene. Together, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS), and thereby play a healing role in aging and various disease processes.
7.In addition, vitamin-A is essential for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin, and is essential factor for ocular (eye) health. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids are also known to help the body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
8.Amaranth greens perhaps have the highest concentrations of vitamin-K of all the edible green-leafy vegetables. 100 g of fresh greens provides 1140 μg or 950% of daily vitamin-K requirements. Vitamin-K plays a vital role in strengthening the bone mass by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bone cells. Additionally, it also has an established role in patients with Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
9.Amaranth greens also contains ample amounts of B-complex vitamins such as folates, vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin, thiamin (vitamin B-1), and niacin. Folates rich diet help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.
10.Moreover, its leaves carry more potassium than that of in the spinach. Potassium is an important component of the cell and body fluids that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
11.Additionally, it has higher levels of other minerals than spinach such as calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc. The human body uses manganese and copper as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells. Zinc is a co-factor for many enzymes that regulate growth and development, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.