Amaranth is a pseudo-cereal grain, which means it belongs to a different plant species than traditional grains such as wheat and oats but has a similar nutritional profile. Although originating in Central America, it is eaten throughout the world in a number of different ways. Amaranth makes a good whole-grain side dish or a hot breakfast cereal. You can also pop the grain and eat it like popcorn. However you like to eat your amaranth, including it in your diet offers a number of nutritional benefits.
Satisfying Source of Calories
When you're watching your calorie intake to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, you want to fill your diet with low-calorie foods that satisfy your appetite. Amaranth, with 251 calories in a 1-cup cooked serving, is such a food. You eat about the same weight in food every day, according to the British Nutrition Foundation. Foods like amaranth are low in calories compared to their weight -- referred to as low-energy-dense foods -- so it helps fill you up faster on fewer calories.
High Carb, High Fiber
Amaranth is a good source of both carbs and fiber. A 1-cup serving of the cooked grain contains 46 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fiber. The fiber in the amaranth may also help with weight control. Fiber in food increases satiety and helps control hunger. Eating more than 14 grams of fiber a day can help you decrease your daily calorie intake by 10 percent, according to an article in the journal "Nutrition Review." For better health, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should get 38 grams. For those over 50, the daily need for fiber is 21 grams for women, and 30 grams for men.
One cup of cooked amaranth contains 9 grams of protein. Unlike other grains, amaranth is a complete source of protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids -- just as meats and poultry do. Protein in foods like amaranth is necessary to help your body build and maintain the proteins found in your cells, muscles and organs. According to the recommended dietary allowances set by the Institute of Medicine, women need 46 grams of protein a day, and men need 56 grams a day.
Healthy Source of Fat
As a whole grain, the amaranth retains its germ, which is a source of healthy unsaturated fats, including the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A 1-cup serving of cooked amaranth contains 4 grams of total fat. Replacing your saturated fat foods, such as red meat and butter, with foods rich in unsaturated fats like those found in amaranth might help lower cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association.
Vitamins and Minerals
Amaranth is a good source of a number of essential vitamins and minerals that you need for good health, including B vitamins, calcium, iron and zinc. The B vitamins help your body turn the food you eat into energy, as well as make blood cells. As a good source of calcium, amaranth helps keep your bones and teeth healthy and strong. The iron in the grain assists with the transportation of oxygen throughout your body, and the zinc helps your body heal cuts.
- Whole Grains Council: Amaranth
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Amaranth Grain, Cooked
- British Nutrition Foundation: What Is Energy Density?
- Nutrition Review: Dietary Fiber and Weight Regulation
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- Harvard School of Public Health: Health Gains from Whole Grains
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- MedlinePlus: B Vitamins
- KidsHealth: Minerals
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Fiber