Amaranth is a perennial plant that belongs to the species of Amaranthaceae. This herb is cultivated as a leaf vegetable and ornamental plant. In ancient times, the Aztecs often eat amaranth leaves before a battle or conquest. In Mesoamerica, amaranth leaves are made into ceremonial drinks and food. Amaranth is also a staple in the Mayan and Incan diet. In modern times, amaranth grains are used to make baked goods.
Benefits of Amaranth Leaves
Packed with High-Quality Proteins
That’s right, amaranth is one of the few leafy vegetables loaded with high-quality protein. Research show that grains from amaranth contain all nine amino acids needed to grow muscle tissues. These amino acids include lysine, which isn’t usually found in grains. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The body processes these compounds to reproduce, repair and grow new muscles cells. Amaranth leaves – when eaten raw – contain high levels of both lysine and protein. So if you’re trying to bulk up, make sure to nosh on amaranth leaves.
Prevents Degenerative Diseases
Did you know amaranth leaves also protect from degenerative diseases? Mexican scientists found that the protein content in amaranth leaves contain a lunasin peptide. Lunasin – which is often found in soybeans – contains powerful anti-cancer properties. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory agent that protects from infections.
Lunasin effectively lowers the chances of developing degenerative diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. While the study was conducted in the late 90s, a 2008 study confirmed that amaranth leaves do help prevent chronic diseases. The study was published in the Agricultural and Food Chemistry journal.
Loaded with Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Amaranth leaves contain a long list of essential vitamins and minerals. The leaves are rich in phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. They are packed with calcium and potassium. Not a lot of leafy vegetables contain calcium. Only mache lettuce and grape leaves contain more calcium than amaranth leaves.
And when it comes to vitamin content, amaranth leaves can’t be beat. The leaves are chock full of vitamin K, carotenoids, and vitamin C. They are also packed with folate and vitamin B6. Vitamin K regulates the viscosity of the blood and prevents cardiovascular diseases. Carotenoids protect from oxidative stress while vitamin C keeps the bones and teeth healthy. Ascorbic acid also strengthens the immune system. It also protects from infections and keeps the skin clear. Vitamin B6 keeps the nerves healthy.
Full of Fiber
If you are watching what you eat, better munch on more amaranth leaves! The leaves are loaded with dietary fiber. Fiber keeps the digestive tract and colon healthy. It binds with fat and prevents cardiovascular diseases. Fiber also reduces bad cholesterol in the blood and makes you feel fuller for longer!
Protects from Cancer
Eating amaranth leaves and grains could protect you from certain types of cancer. Amaranth leaves contain lysine along with iron, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin E and C. All these nutrients protects from free radical damage that cause cell mutation. Vitamin C, in particular, prevents the formation of malignant cancer cells.