Today on the Internet quite often you can find advertising amaranth seeds. Under this little one there are wonderful stories about that, by eating the stalks, leaves, the grain of the plant, the oil extracted from it, and so on, you can stretch it out to almost two hundred years, and young and healthy. Various Slavic neo-pagans, Rodnovers, Levashovans, and other public like them, especially succeeded in this matter. How really useful is the plant, and also briefly with its history, we will deal a little further.
Justifying its name
The word "amaranth" means "unfading flower". The name is due to the fact that, being torn and dried, it retains its shape, does not crumble to 3-4 months and can safely stand for the whole winter. By the way, it looks very nice, especially a decorative variety like a three-colored amaranth (see photo). In addition to this name, it is also called shchiritsa (wild varieties), fox tail, marigold, cock scallops.
Useful properties of amaranth
The plant is widely used in folk medicine as a tonic, firming and styptic in disorders of the functions of both the genitourinary system and the intestines, including hemorrhoids and constipation. It is also used to alleviate the symptoms of respiratory diseases.
The oil extracted from amaranth seeds is indicated for gastritis, gastric and intestinal ulcers, and has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the liver in alcoholic and industrial cirrhosis of the liver, and hepatitis, including viral. It helps with increased pressure, ischemic diseases, problems with blood vessels, pre-infarction and pre-stroke conditions, as well as a strengthening agent after suffering blows.
According to some unverified data, by including this plant in the diet, it is possible not only to avoid oncology, but also to cure it. Honestly, I personally do not know of a single healed person.
For many millennia, amaranth was the main, along with maize and beans, food base of the indigenous peoples of South America and Mexico. Today in Nepal, China, Pakistan and India in the mountainous region, it is also common as a vegetable and grain crop.
As a vegetable dish they serve the young leaves of the plant, somewhat similar to spinach. The table is served both in cheese (salads) and cooked (soups, sauces), dried leaf is also suitable for food.
Amaranth grains, very small in size (0.5-0.8 mm in diameter), are used as a grain crop. They are made into flour, which in certain proportions (as a rule, 1: 2) is mixed with wheat flour, and baked bread. In its pure form, amaranth flour is not used, since baking from it does not work. This bread is much more useful than ordinary wheat because of the high content of protein in it and refers to dietary products.
Amaranth is widely used as a fodder crop for livestock and poultry. Pigs and cattle willingly eat both silage, which has a characteristic pleasant smell of apples, and fresh greens.
Four varieties are used as decorative culture - sad, paniculate, caudate, and tricolor amaranth, although most species of amaranth also look pretty good.
Consigned to oblivion
In America, as already written, before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, amaranth was one of the main cultivated plants. After the colonization and the fall of the civilizations of the Incas and the Aztecs, it was almost completely forgotten. Amaranth was stigmatized by the Spaniards as a plant of the devil, because, in addition to the purely gastronomic one, it also had ritual significance for the local population. - they kind of drove out evil spirits with the help of brooms from a plant. But with evil, you understand, it is necessary to fight, than the Spaniards enthusiastically engaged in, completely banning the cultivation of amaranth, and destroying its crops.
As to whether Peter I forbade growing this culture or not, the question is very controversial. To begin with, the written confirmation or any of its decrees has not been preserved. And here the sovereign emperor should be given his due - he wrote the decrees personally, and on industrial, as they say, scales, and sometimes quite idiotic. For example, people with red hair or squint were forbidden to hold public office. Or this: the junior in the service before the boss must be "dashing and silly, so that his mind does not embarrass the authorities." But it’s not about that. The climate of our country, to put it mildly, is not very conducive to the cultivation of amaranth, except that its southern part, a plant that is rather heat-loving. And if Peter brought potatoes and tobacco from Europe and contributed to their spread, and Catherine II also reacted favorably to tomatoes, then why would Peter suddenly make a fuss around amaranth? He and the Swedes, Zaporizhia and Don Cossacks had enough problems, and then the peasants were deprived of food supply?
In all likelihood, at that time in the Russian Empire, with the exception of wild-growing shchiritsa, which successfully went to feed the livestock, no one had heard about amaranth.
Be that as it may, today in the world amaranth is recognized as a promising grain and vegetable crop, great hopes are pinned on it. It is unpretentious and not demanding of moisture, which is important in terms of reducing the supply of fresh water in the world. And in order to have a complete idea of what the nutritional value of amaranth is, I will give data on the composition of its seeds for various varieties:
- protein 13-21%;
- fats 6-9%;
- carbohydrates about 74%.
At the same time they contain a large range of vitamins - A, B, C, E, K, PP, and almost half of the periodic table - sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper, selenium, zinc, manganese. The nutritional value of the product is about 370 kcal.