Leafy green vegetables are the healthiest options for us to gain proper vitamins and nutrients, helping us to become healthy and energetic all through the day. One of the best greens that are filled with loads of goodness is Amaranth. Amaranth greens have its origin from the Central America. It is a healthy and nutritional leafy vegetable that offers great nutritional value. It is one of the staple foods of the Aztecs as well as the Incas of the Pre Columbian periods. At present, it mainly grows in the tropical areas of Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Amaranth is grown for the purpose of vegetable leaves or for grains. Vegetable amaranth can be distinguished by the seeds that are black or brownish in color and with its glossiness. The two major leafy amaranths are Dubious and Tricolor.
Some of the health benefits of Amaranth
- Amaranth leaves contain 23 calories per 100 grams. Consuming these leaves is healthy since it does not contain any cholesterol or fats.
- A small amount of amaranth leaves contain good amount of iron. Iron is extremely good for us since it helps in producing sufficient red blood cells inside the body.
- The leaves contain good amount of antioxidants, vitamins, Phytonutrients and minerals, providing good health and wellness.
- Both leaves and stem of amaranth leaves contain both soluble as well as insoluble dietary fibers. The Majority of the dieticians choose amaranth and recommend them for controlling cholesterol and even for reducing weight.
- Vitamin C is found in abundance in Amaranth leaves. Vitamin C plays a keen role in healing wounds and also to fight against all kinds of viral infections.
- Vitamin A is found in abundance in amaranth leaves. It is good to consume around 100 g of the leafy vegetable as it has antioxidants such as B-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. They help to protect the body from oxygen derived free radicalas also against reactive oxygen species. In this way, it heals the body against many diseases and also helps to protect the body from aging.
- Vitamin K is found in greatest concentration in amaranth than the rest of the leafy greens that are good to consume. The real role of Vitamin K to our health is that it helps in strengthening the bone mass as it helps in boosting the osteoblastic activity going on inside the cells of the bone. It is also good in decreasing the damage causes the neurons in the brain for those affected with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Potassium is found in large amount in amaranth leaves than in the spinach leaves. Since potassium is very essential for our cells and body fluids, as it helps in regulating the blood pressure and heart rate, we need to consume foods that contain large amount of potassium in our day to day life.
- It is found that amaranthas contains good amount of Vitamin B complex vitamins like thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folates and riboflavin. The defects of neural tubes in babies can be prevented by the consumption of folate rich food by the mother.
- Mineral rich is what we can call amaranth leaves, as it is rich in manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc and copper. Our body makes use of copper and manganese for working along with antioxidant enzymes. Copper helps in producing red blood cells in the body. Zinc is needed by most of enzymes for promoting growth as well as development of the body, getting a smooth digestion and also in the synthesis of nucleic acid.
Like the majority of the leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach, amaranth when consumed regularly and included in a regular diet, helps in preventing weakness of the bones or osteoporosis. It also helps in the treatment of anemia or iron deficiency. It is good for pregnant women and also majority of us to consume leafy greens like amaranth to stay hale and healthy and also for our well being.
Selecting and storing
Amaranths are available in the market all through the year. As it it is a short seasonal crop, it is a very popular vegetable. This leafy green vegetable is ready to harvest just within 4 to 6 weeks after seeds are sown. It grows well in 25 degree centigrade during day time and at 15 degree centigrade. It grows in fertile alkaline soil and needs just sufficient amount of water. It grows all round the year in tropical areas. The leaves are found in green or in other variety colors.
Make sure to pick crispy leaves and do not pick those with yellow colors or spots or leaves that are wilted. Do not pick large ones with thick stems as they taste bitter.
Wash the leaves in cold water several times, as it may contain soil particles. Use it fresh and if you want to keep it for 2 or 3 days, you can refrigerate it after washing and draining off the water.
Preparing amaranth leaves
Before preparing, you need to separate the leaves and stem. Stem has to be cooked separately as the stems take some time to cook than the leaves. The Leaves have to be washed well before preparing. Dry it with the help of a soft cloth. You can chop the leaves and used for a lot of dishes. When they are cooked for a long time, it can result in the losing of the vitamins, and antioxidants.
Use amaranth in salads or in recipes and take a big step into healthy living.