Origin: Amaranth has been a staple grain in Mesoamerica for thousands of years now. It was first collected as wild food and then was domesticated around 4000 BC. The edible parts are the seeds and leaves.
The seeds are usually eaten as a cereal as toasted grain or are milled to flour. It was cultivated by the mighty Aztecs about 6,000-8,000 years ago. Amaranth was not just food for Aztecs but was the staple. It was also used for religious purposes and played a big role in worshipping gods. They also built statues of their deity using amaranth grain and honey. These statues were later worshipped, broken, and distributed for eating.
When Cortez and his Spaniards landed in the New World in the sixteenth century, they immediately began forceful attempts to convert the Aztecs to Christianity. They tried eradicating amaranth grain from the Aztecs. There was severe punishment given to anyone found growing or possessing amaranth.
Scientifically: Amaranth is a plant belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae. The botanical name is called Amaranthus. There are over 60 species of Amaranth that are native to America and other species belong to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The most widespread species are native to North, Central and South America, and are A. Cruentus, A. caudatus, and A. hypochondriacus.
Grain amaranth is usually drought-tolerant and can grow with little moisture. The crop Amaranth responds well to high sunlight and warm temperatures. The grain amaranths provide large colorful seed heads and can produce over 1000 pounds of grain per acre. It is usually an annual, perennial plant.
Usage: Amaranth is a gluten-free grain and is excellent for people who don’t eat gluten. It is one of the best protein-enriched grain. One cup of amaranth grain contains 28.1 grams of protein. Amaranth contains all essential amino acids for overall body health. Amaranth seeds and oil contain fiber which contributes to lower cholesterol and treats constipation.
This grain is also a rich source of calcium and helps in treating osteoporosis. Amaranth is full of Vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are great for the skin. It improves skin texture, elasticity and reverses signs of aging. It also helps in hair growth and reduces the graying of hair. This small seed is loaded with powerful health and beauty benefits. Amaranth can be consumed as a cereal or is used to make flour for bread. The leaves can also be cooked to make curries or salads.
Below are some DIYs with Amaranth:
- Take a tablespoon of Amaranth oil and apply it directly to the roots of the hair. This remedy helps in boosting hair growth and reduces grey hair.
- Take a tablespoon of fuller’s earth and add some water and a teaspoon of amaranth oil to it. Mix it together and apply it on the face. Keep it on for 10 minutes and then rinse. This remedy helps in treating acne and moisturizes it at the same time.
- Take a teaspoon of amaranth flour and a teaspoon of gram flour. Add some raw milk and honey to make a thick paste. Apply this mixture on the face and rinse after 10 minutes. This remedy deep cleanses the skin and fades dark spots.
- Take a few drops of amaranth oil and massage it on the face. Massage until absorbed and leave it overnight. This remedy reduces the signs of aging.
- Take some Amaranth seeds and ground them coarsely and add some yogurt to it. Mix it together and use it as a scrub to exfoliate the skin. This removes dead skin and reveals glowing skin.