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Amaranth grain is a nutrient dense cereal that also has nutraceutical properties. Amaranth grains are rich in proteins (with the much needed amino acids lysine, methionine, and cycteine), Vitamines and minerals especially calcium, iron, magnesium, and folate. It is also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and E.Some of the health benefits associated with consumption of amaranth grain products including improving weight gain among individuals formerly wasted by HIV/AIDS, improved appetite, improved blood lipid profile, and general improvement in health among individuals with cardiovascular diseases as amaranth grains are a cholesterol-lowering food, with both tocotrienols and phytosterols, two natural compounds known to help the body eliminate bad cholesterol. These health boosting properties are mostly attributed to the high nutrient content and health boosting compounds such as squalene and tocotrienols.With this, amaranth can reduce or combat common diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, hemorrhage, TB, HIV/AIDS, wound healing, kwashiorkor, marasmus, skin disease among others. Amaranth seeds and biomass are rich in soluble and insoluble diet fibers important in prevention of coronary heart diseases of the colon. The compounds in amaranth can enhance human growth and development, improve general health, and strengthen immune responses to combat diseases. In situations where dietary choices are limited or when immune systems are compromised, amaranth consumption may make the difference between normal health and life-threatening diseases. Also, amaranth grain is free of gluten, which is important for people with gluten allergies.
Despite its health boosting attributes, amaranth grain flour is grainer and has a peculiar strong aroma which makes it less desirable in most food production lines.Under this project, efforts were concentrated on creating flour blends that would mask these undesirable attributes in order to develop nutrient-dense functional products with acceptable organoleptic properties.Composite flours were generated from mixing amaranth flour with commonly used flours such as wheat, millet, and cassava.This project was designed to enhance production of flours and products from amaranth grain in order to improve utilization of amaranth grain in Uganda.
Why Amaranth (Justification).
Amaranth contains more protein than most of the other cereal grains- and more protein than wheat. Amaranth is an excellent source of lysine, an important amino acid (protein). Grains are notorious for low lysine content, which decreases the quality of their proteins. The high lysine content in amaranth sets it apart from other grains. Food scientists consider the protein content of amaranth of high "biological value", similar in fact, to the proteins found in milk. This means that amaranth contains an excellent combination of essential amino acids and is well absorbed in the intestinal tract. Another advantage of the protein content of amaranth is that the primary proteins in amaranth are "albumins" and "globulins". In comparison, the major proteins in wheat are called "prolamins", which are considered less soluble and less digestible than are albumins and globulin proteins. Bottom line- the amount, types and digestibility of proteins in amaranth make it an excellent plant source of high quality proteins.Amaranth contains more fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron than other gluten-free grains.Amaranth is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (as are most whole grains) and it contains vitamin E in similar amounts to olive oil.