Amaranth (Plant)
Title: Amaranth (Plant)
Literature References: Genus of the Amaranthaceae L. family which contains approx 60 species having worldwide distribution. Many species are considered weeds but Amaranthus caudatus L. (love-lies-bleeding), A. hybridus variety hypochondriacus L. (prince's feather), A. tricolor have been cultivated as ornamentals. A. retroflexus L. and some of the other weedy species are known as pigweed, redroot and water hemp. A. spinosus L. has been used in the treatment of gonorrhea: W. H. Brown, Useful Plants of the Philippines 1 (Philippines Dept. Agr. and Natl. Resources, Manila, 1951) pp 510-515; as a poultice in the treatment of inflammation, bruises and eczema: T. H. P. de Tavera, The Medicinal Plants of the Philippines (P. Blakiston's Son, Philadelphia, 1901) pp 200-202. Most species are hardy, herbaceous and fast-growing cereal-like plants. Leaves and grain are used for food in parts of South America, Africa and Asia. Plants are high in protein; the amino acid composition is complementary to that of wheat. The grain was a basic food in pre-Columbian South and Central America and was important in Aztec ritual. Grain amaranths (A. hypochondriacus, A. cruentas, A. caudatus) produce large seedheads containing many edible seeds. The seed can be made into low gluten flour, cooked into gruel or popped like corn. Compositional study of grain: R. Becker et al., J. Food Sci. 46, 1175 (1981); K. C. Pant, Nutr. Rep. Int. 28, 1445 (1983). Properties of seed starches: P. V. S. Rao, J. K. Goering, Cereal Chem. 47, 655 (1970); Y. Tomita et al., J. Nutr. Sci. Vitaminol. 27, 471 (1981); saccharides: K. Lorenz, M. Gross, Nutr. Rep. Int. 29, 721 (1984); lipids: F. I. Opute, J. Exp. Bot. 30, 601 (1979). Baking potential of flour: K. Lorenz, Starch/Staerke 33, 149 (1981). Most amaranth species have edible leaves with mild spinach-like flavor. A. cruentas, A. dubius, A. hybridus, A. lividus and A. tricolor are some of the species grown as vegetables. Magnesium and copper content of leaf: N. M. Guttiker et al., J. Nutr. Diet. 3, 4 (1966); vitamin A content: C. N. Rao, ibid. 4, 10 (1967); amino acids: I. G. Vasi, V. P. Kalintha, J. Inst. Chem. (India) 52, 13 (1980). Nutritive value of leaf protein concentrate: P. R. Cheeke et al., Can. J. Anim. Sci. 61, 199 (1981). Toxicology: R. M. Hill, P. D. Rawate: J. Agric. Food Chem. 30, 465 (1982). Book: J. N. Cole, Amaranth, From the Past for the Future (Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 1979) 311 pp; Nat'l. Academy of Sciences Report: Amaranth, Modern Prospects for an Ancient Crop (Nat'l. Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1984) 80 pp.

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