Amaranth has long been touted as a superfood because of its high protein content, and fans claim that it can help to reduce inflammation in the body, offering a great solution to arthritis and other conditions.
Can amaranth really offer benefits for arthritis, and how can it be used? We took a closer look at all you need to know.
What Is Amaranth?
Amaranth is a grain-like plant native to North America. It’s also known by many different names, including “Indian spinach” or “jicama”.
The seeds are small in size, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) wide, and they grow in clusters on the stems of the plant. They have a nutty flavor similar to quinoa, but with a slightly sweeter taste.
The leaves of the plant are edible too, and they contain more nutrients than the seeds. In fact, the leaves are often eaten raw in salads, while the seeds are usually cooked like rice.
Can You Consume Too Much Amaranth?
It’s important to note that amaranth contains gluten, so if you have celiac disease or another condition where you cannot tolerate gluten, then you should avoid this food.
If you don’t have any health issues related to gluten, then you can enjoy amaranth without worrying about having an adverse reaction.
If you do decide to try amaranth, make sure that you only eat one serving per day. This will ensure that your body doesn’t become dependent on it, which could lead to problems down the road.
What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints. There are two types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis affects both large and small joints, while RA mainly impacts the hands, feet, knees, and ankles.
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage wears away over time, causing bones to rub together and form painful lesions. It’s most common among older adults, although younger people can develop it too.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the synovial membranes lining the joints.
These membranes produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation and damage to the tissues.
Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect women more frequently than men, and it’s more common among Caucasians than other ethnic groups.
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an inflammatory condition because it involves the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, TNF-alpha, and IL-6 – substances that trigger the release of chemicals that cause inflammation throughout the body.
Other factors that contribute to the development of arthritis include genetics, obesity, stress, poor nutrition, and lack of sleep.
How Does Amaranth Help With Arthritis?
Several studies show that eating amaranth may help to relieve symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
One study found that people who ate amaranth had less pain and swelling in their joints compared to those who didn’t eat it.
Another study showed that people who consumed amaranth experienced fewer joint pains after exercise.
There are no clinical trials that prove that amaranth helps to treat arthritis, but there are plenty of anecdotal reports from users claiming that it does.
Some say that they feel better when they consume amaranth on a regular basis, while others report that they experience relief from joint pain after consuming it.
Reduction Of Inflammation
The main way that amaranth is thought to reduce arthritis is through the reduction of inflammation. Amaranth is rich in quercetin, a flavonoid compound that has anti-inflammatory effects.
Quercetin reduces the activity of enzymes that break down arachidonic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), thereby reducing the number of prostaglandins – chemical messengers that cause inflammation – that are produced by the body.
Quercetin also inhibits the action of the cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) enzyme, which converts arachidonic acid into prostaglandins. This prevents the formation of prostaglandins, which leads to reduced inflammation.
Inclusion Of Free Radicals
Amaranth also contains a number of antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and DNA, leading to cell death.
Antioxidants neutralize these harmful compounds before they can cause harm.
Amaranth is also rich in anthocyanins, a group of phytochemicals that act as powerful antioxidants.
Anthocyanins prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They also inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.
What Are The Main Benefits Of Amaranth?
Aside from helping to alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis, amaranth offers a number of other benefits. Here are just a few:
High Protein Content
One of the biggest reasons why people choose to include amaranth in their diet is because it provides them with a lot of protein.
A single cup of cooked amaranth contains 8 grams of protein, which is higher than most grains such as brown rice, oats, and wheat.
One of the main benefits of amaranth is that it’s rich in fiber. Each cup of cooked amaranth contains 3.5 grams of dietary fiber, which is much higher than most grains.
Vitamin K is essential for bone growth and development, and it’s especially helpful for women during pregnancy.
Amaranth is loaded with vitamin K, and each cup of cooked amaranth contains over 100 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain function, heart health, and overall good health. Amaranth is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, and each cup of amaranth contains almost 50 percent of the recommended daily amount.
Amaranth has high levels of antioxidants, which means that it’s great for promoting healthy skin and hair. These antioxidants are also beneficial for protecting against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Iron deficiency is common among pregnant women, and it can cause fatigue and poor energy levels. Amaranth is rich in iron, and each cup of it contains more than half of the recommended daily allowance.
Lutein is a powerful antioxidant that protects eyesight by preventing macular degeneration. It’s also useful for maintaining eye health throughout life.
Amaranth is a good source of lutein, and each cup of grain contains nearly 20 percent of the recommended daily value.
Magnesium is vital for muscle contraction and nerve function, and it plays an important role in regulating blood pressure.
Amaranth is very high in magnesium, and each cup of raw amaranth contains more than 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of this mineral.
Potassium helps maintain fluid balance in the body, and it’s important in keeping your muscles strong and flexible.
Amaranth is extremely high in potassium, and each cup of uncooked amaranth contains more potassium than a banana!
Zinc is necessary for immune system function, wound healing, and tissue repair. Amaranth is one of the best sources of zinc, and each cup of roasted amaranth contains about 10 percent of the recommended daily dose.
Copper is needed for many bodily functions, including the formation of red blood cells. Amaranth is excellent at providing copper, and each cup of boiled amaranth contains more copper than a cup of milk or yogurt.
Calcium is required for building bones and teeth, and it’ll help you avoid osteoporosis later in life.
Amaranth contains plenty of calcium, and each cup of baked amaranth contains more calcium than a glass of milk.
Amaranth is a nutritious whole grain that provides a wide variety of nutrients and minerals – and the benefits can even include a reduction in the pain and symptoms that come with arthritis.
Try adding some amaranth to your diet today, and start enjoying the results.