There are at least 70 species of Amaranth, and some of them produce seeds of sufficient size and quantity to be harvested and used similarly to grains. These seeds are eaten in various parts of the world, and are seeing a resurgence in the Americas after Spanish suppression. Listed here are species most noted for producing edible seeds. For Greens, see our Amaranth Greens page.
[Kiwicha (Inca); Amaranthus cruentis, A. hypochondriaca, A. caudatus | India Amaranthus viridis]
The most important seed amaranths are native to the American tropics, but are now grown worldwide. Amaranth was of great importance to the Incas because it grew well in the high mountainous regions of Peru and was highly nutritious. It has more recently become of some importance in the Himalayan region of Asia for similar reasons.
Spanish conquerors of Peru were highly disturbed by amaranths use
in a ritual too close to Christian communion for comfort, and banned
its cultivation. The crop has recently gone back into production because
of its nutritional attributes, and it is now widely available. It is
slowly escaping from the "health food" market into the mainstream,
though not as quickly as Quinoa.
Buying: Amaranth seeds are still found mainly in markets serving a Yuppie community - Whole Foods Market and the like, generally in small packages of about 8 to 16 ounces.
Storing: Seeds should be kept in a tightly sealed jar, away from light and as cool as possible. Under these conditions it will keep for about a year. Once ground into flour it is highly perishable and should be kept refrigerated and only for a few days - preferably grind as needed.
Health & Nutrition: Amaranth is high in protein and that protein is nearly perfectly balanced for human consumption. Wheat, rice and corn must be accompanied by beans to balance the protein content but that isn't necessary with amaranth. Amaranth is also gluten free and can be freely eaten by people with a gluten intolerance (celiacs). Amaranth seed is thought to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.