Introduction: Amaranth grain is thought to have represented up to 80% of caloric consumption of Aztecs before the Spanish conquest. Another important use of Amaranth throughout Mesoamerica was to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning “joy” in Spanish. Amaranth seeds contain lysine, an essential amino acid, limited in grains or other plant sources. Most fruits and vegetables do not contain a complete set of amino-acids, and thus different sources of protein must be used to create a balanced nutrition profile. Amaranth seeds are therefore a promising complement to common grains such as wheat germ, oats, and corn. Amaranth may be a promising source of protein to those who are gluten sensitive, because unlike the protein found in grains such as wheat and rye, its protein does not contain gluten. It compares well in nutrient content with gluten-free vegetarian options such as buckwheat, corn, millet, wild rice, oats and quinoa. Amaranth grain is a source of vitamin B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), D, E etc. Along with South & Middle America, it’s also a staple among countries of South Asia.
Extraction of oil/butter: It is one of the more expensive oils available in the market because the oil content of the actual Amaranth grain ranges from 4.8 to 8.1% which is considerably lower than most oil-seeds. In essence, a lot of raw material is used in order to obtain a tiny bit of Amaranth oil. Amaranth oil is a light to medium colored, clear liquid that flows easily at low temperatures, highly unsaturated with a delicate aroma and taste, allowing greater usage versatility. The melting point of amaranth oil is 27°C. Commercial uses of Amaranth oil include foods, cosmetics, shampoos and intermediates for manufacture of lubricants, pharmaceuticals, rubber chemicals, aromatics and surface active agents. Chemically, the major constituents of amaranth oil are Linoleic acid (46–50%), Oleic acid (22–26%), Palmitic acid (19–20%), Squalene (5–6%) and Stearic acid (3%).
Benefits and applications: It’s said that Amaranth oil when used for serious cosmetic purposes, helps mitigate ‘Naevus flammeus’, various skin irritations, dermatitis etc. It has anti-ageing qualities and is said to reduce wrinkles. Along with rice bran, wheat germ and olives, Amaranth oil is a rich source of Squalene. Squalene is a natural 30-carbon organic compound originally obtained for commercial purposes primarily from shark liver oil. It isn’t greasy and quite light after application. Squalene is one of the most common lipids produced by human skin cells since it’s a natural moisturizer. It also provides an excellent resource for omega series fatty acids. Amaranth oil is valued for its ability to add temperature stability at both high and low temperatures. As a food oil, amaranth oil has a delicate and agreeable taste. Berger et al., in a study of the cholesterol-lowering properties of Amaranth grain and oil in hamsters, report that amaranth oil significantly reduced non-HDL cholesterol and raised HDL cholesterol, as well as lowering very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL cholesterol) by 21–50%. When taken orally, Amaranth oil harmonizes cholesterol levels.
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