Amaranth – Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago and still a native crop in Peru, the ancient history of amaranth can be traced to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. Today, it’s grown in Africa, India, China, Russia, throughout South America, and emerging once again in North America.
One reason amaranth is emerging into the forefront among grains is because of its remarkable nutrition. It’s higher in minerals, such as calcium, iron, phosphorous, and carotenoids, than most vegetables. It has truly remarkable protein content: cup for cup, 28.1 grams of protein compared to the 26.3 grams in oats and 13.1 grams in rice.
Amaranth is a great source of lysine, an important amino acid with protein content comparable to that of milk, more easily digested; neither can be said of other grains. To support this positive aspect of amaranth, it also contains primary proteins called albumin and globulins, which, in comparison with the prolamins in wheat, are more soluble and digestible.
One cup of raw amaranth contains 15 milligrams of iron, while white rice contains only 1.5 milligrams. One cup of raw amaranth also contains 18 milligrams of fibre; in comparison, white rice contains 2.4 grams.
At 105% of the daily value per serving, the manganese in amaranth is off the charts, yet it contains fewer carbohydrates. Amaranth contains more than three times the amount of calcium and it’s also high in magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Amaranth contains 6 to 10% oil, predominantly unsaturated, or around 77% unsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic acid, required for optimum nutrition. Not least in this list, amaranth is the only grain with documented vitamin C content.