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Amaranthus Tricolor

Amaranthus Tricolor
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Amaranthus Tricolor

Amaranthus tricolor is an ornamental plant known as Tandaljo or Tandalja bhaji in India, callaloo in the Caribbean and Joseph's coat after the Biblical figure Joseph, who is said to have worn a coat of many colors. Although it is native to South America, many varieties of amaranth can be found across the world in a myriad of different climates due to it being a C4 carbon fixation plant, which allows it to convert carbon dioxide into biomass at an extremely efficient rate when compared to other plants. Cultivars have striking yellow, red and green foliage.

The leaves may be eaten as a salad vegetable as well as the stems. In Africa, it is usually cooked as a leafy vegetable. It is usually steamed as a side dish in both China and Japan.

It appears on the coat of arms of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge where it is called "flowers gentle".

Amaranthus gangeticus

Amaranthus gangeticus is considered a synonym of A. tricolor, but has been recognized as a separate species in the past. Amaranthus gangeticus is also known as elephant-head amaranth. It is an annual flowering plant with deep purple flowers. It can grow from 2–3 feet in height. In Bangladesh, it has been used as a leafy vegetable. Scientific study suggests that it may inhibit calcium retention.

Culinary use

Amaranth leaves taste almost similar to spinach. Tender leaves and stems are best for consumption.

Asian amaranth recipes: This leafy vegetable is hugely popular in India and Sri Lanka and often prepared red amaranth with Garlic and Oyster Sauce served with rice.  In southern parts of India, amaranth leaves is also boiled with pulses, mashed, stir-friedaviyal with light seasoning of red chilies and spices or cooked with tamarind gravy. Considering excellent health benefits of amaranth leaves, Chinese love young greens in stir-fries mixed with chicken or pork meats or Pinyin soup. Vietnamese use the leaves to make soup. Thais cook this leafy vegetable as spinach.

African amaranth greens recipes: Nigerians consume amaranth leaves with starch dishes. In the Caribbean, the leaves are stewed with garlic, onions, and tomatoes, or made into pepperpot soup.

Mediterranean amaranth leaves dishes: Greeks cook a healthy dish called vlita with boiled green leaves mixed with vinegar and olive oil. It is served as salad alongside fried fish.

Health Benefits of Amaranthus Tricolor

Provides energy: Highly packed with carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, amaranth leaves boost energy in the body.

Prevents electrolyte imbalance: Amaranth leaves are terrific source of manganese, iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus necessary for maintaining proper mineral balance in the body.

Excellent gluten-free diet: Vegetarians with gluten-intolerance or those suffering from celiac diseases can meet daily recommended dose of protein from amaranth greens. Compared to other plant sources namely wheat, rye, rice and oats, Amaranth contains 30% more protein with complete set of amino acids.

Improves digestion: High dietary fiber content (3 times that of wheat) in the greens improve digestive health and reduces constipation. It is easily digestible and good for both young ones and elders.

Aids in weight management: Protein in the leaves help to reduce insulin levels in the blood and also release a hormone that lessen hunger pranks and prevent "binging catastrophe".

Reduces bad cholesterol: One of the key benefits of amaranth leaves is cholesterol-lowering ability. Being fibrous, this leafy vegetable is effective in reducing LDL levels in the blood and promotes weight loss. Presence of tocotrienols (a type of vitamin E) also aids in cholesterol-lowering activity.

Good for anemic patients: Iron-rich (5 times that of wheat) red amaranth leaves promote coagulation and increase hemoglobin content and red blood cell counts.

Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease: Amaranth leaves are an excellent dietary source of phytosterols that lowers blood pressure and prevents heart ailments including stroke.
Fight-off cancer: Presence of lysine (an essential amino acid) along with vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and vitamin C helps to fight against free radicals responsible for aging and formation of malignant cells. 

Ayurvedic treatments: Juice extracted from fresh amaranth leaves are prescribed for treating diarrhea, and hemorrhage conditions.

Stop hair loss and graying: Besides regular consumption, applying juice from the leaves prevent brittle hair falling. This wonderful cosmetic benefit of amaranth leaves also retards the onset of premature graying.

Prevents calcium-deficiency ailments: Calcium present in amaranth leaves reduce risk of osteoporosis and other calcium deficiencies because it has twice the calcium as milk. Indeed good news for lactose-intolerants!

Improves eyesight: Vitamin C found in the leaves contribute to towards healthy vision.

Read more at Wikipedia.
Recipe for Amaranthus Tricolor.
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