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Amaranth For Those with Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity

By HERWriter
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try amaranth if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you have celiac disease or you're just sensitive to gluten, now is a good time to browse through the many substitutes available for the usual wheat, barley and rye. Not all substitutes are actually grains.

Consider amaranth. Never heard of it before? Neither have many other people. Amaranth is not well-known but it should be.

Amaranth is increasingly finding its way into foods for the gluten-impaired. It's already being used in baked goods like breads and cakes.

It's an unsung hero that everyone who has celiac disease or gluten intolerance needs to hear about.

Amaranth is not a grain, it's a seed belonging to the Amaranthaceae family. Those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can use it as a substitute for glutenous grains however.

Unlike many grains, amaranth has a high lysine content. Most grains have little or no lysine, an amino acid.

But amaranth is considered a complete protein because of its lysine content, along with the other essential amino acids. Protein content hovers around 13 to 14 percent.

Amaranth has the most protein of any gluten-free grain, on a par of protein in milk. It also contains more protein than wheat.

Researchers at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama at Guatemala obtained results that indicated amaranth's protein was comparable to animal products like cheese.

Its protein was also considered to be superior to most vegetable-source proteins. Amaranth is also high in calcium, iron, fiber, fatty acids, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Grains don't contain vitamin C but amaranth does.

Nutritionally, amaranth stands tall. But despite its stellar attributes, it shouldn't stand alone.

This is because it is so very absorbent when it's used without other flours. Bakery items made just with amaranth will produce dense, heavy concoctions that resemble paperweights and doorstops more than bread or cookies.

This just means you'll need to try your hand at experimentation with other gluten-free flours until you find a combination that is lighter and more edible.

Amaranth is believed to date back to the Aztec civilization according to wisegeek.com. Growing amaranth is somewhat touchier than some other grains and flour crops due to susceptibility to many diseases and pests.

Some (like wisegeek.com) say that amaranth leaves taste rather like spinach. You can put the leaves in salads, or cook them in stews and other dishes.

In its masquerade as a grain, amaranth can be used in breads, cereals, crackers, muffins and pancakes.

Or you can boil it in in water for 15 to 20 minutes. Then drain and rinse it. After it's cooked and given time to dry, it can be used in such diverse recipes as salads, soups and cookie batter.


What Is Amaranth Flour?

10 Reasons To Use Amaranth in Your Gluten-Free Recipes

Amaranth - May Grain of the Month

Why Use Amaranth in Gluten-Free Recipes?

Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Reviewed December 7, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN

Add a Comment1 Comments

Amaranth leaves with their purple veins are very high in iron, too--a great thing for women. They can be stir-fried, added to stews, or mixed in with other salad greens.

August 13, 2012 - 2:46pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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