What is Amaranth?

What we call amaranth is many things at once. The word, which means “unending” or “immortal,” refers to a genus of plants, and to the plant’s edible foliage. But most commonly, amaranth is defined as a tasty, highly nutritious seed.

amaranthThe glorious, fast-growing Amaranthus family is actually a collection of herbs. Over 50 species of amaranth are recognized today, including wild and domestic, vegetable and ornamental varieties. Topping out at seven feet, the showiest varieties boast broad variegated leaves and feathery, multi-flowered seed heads that bloom in an array of gaudy carnival colors ranging from ruddy gold to flaming purple. Each seed head can yield a shower of convex seed grains, 60,000 at most, all cream and tan and brown—and all, from a nutritional perspective, pure gold.

Since the reintroduction of amaranth into our cultural consciousness about twenty years ago, the plant’s popularity has continued to rise. It’s easy to understand why. Amaranth packs some very potent and unusual proteins, vitamins and minerals into a little seed that’s both good tasting and easy on the digestive system for all ages, including infancy. Although the plant has been around for thousands of years, the implications of amaranth’s mighty nutritional make-up are only now becoming clear.

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