CULTIVATING AMARANTH IN CHILI: HOW AN OLDER PLANT WILL HELP IMPROVE THE RATION OF SCHOOL CHILDREN

Автор - | 20.02.2019

Amarant steadily walks on the planet. It is most actively studied and cultivated in the countries of Central and Latin America. This is not surprising – in fact it was in this part of the planet that it originated.

Today, there are constantly conducted various studies. In particular, how the use of amaranth can change the diet of schoolchildren. Not so long ago, a program was launched in Chile whose goal is to find alternative sources of healthy nutrition. The program is attended by Chilean and Mexican scientists. In particular, representatives of the University of Iztapalapa from Mexico.

About this in February 2018, wrote the Chilean edition of the Diario UchileRadio Universidad de Chile.

As part of research, scientists are considering the feasibility and feasibility of actively cultivating amaranth in Chile. After all, this plant has a mass of nutritional properties and high nutritional value.

“Amaranth was part of the diet of the Aztec culture, and its cultivation does not require too much financial expenditure, because the plant is characterized by drought tolerance and the ability to adapt to various soil characteristics,” says Cecilia Baginskaya, academician of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences. It was she who led the program “Promoting the cultivation and consumption of amaranth: enhancing the potential of Chile and Mexico.”

The project, funded by the Chilean Agency for International Development Cooperation (AGCID Chile), was submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture. The draft states that amaranth is of interest, as a plant that can change the diet of school-age children and make their diet more healthy and healthy. Indeed, in recent years, the level of obesity among children has increased significantly, due to the lack of dietary, but nutritious food. In particular, the rate of obesity among children of preschool age increased from 22% to 23.9% – this figure is not yet catastrophic and looks like average. If we talk directly about schoolchildren, over the past six years, starting in 2011, the number of children suffering from overweight and obesity has increased from 36.1% to 45.2%.

Why amaranth help children
Why was amaranth chosen for research? Because the seeds of this plant have a high nutritional value. Regular consumption of amaranth in food helps prevent diabetes, and more – they have the highest antioxidant capacity. That is, the consumption of amaranth makes it possible to protect the body from the negative effects of toxins and poisons. For example, it has already been proven that amaranth can even fight cancer cells.

As part of a study in October 2016, amaranth fields were planted in several regions of Chile — near the cities of Isla de Maipo, San Fernando and Larmahu. For this, Chilean farmers used specialized equipment brought from Mexico and amaranth seeds.

As Paola Silva told the Department of Agricultural Production of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, crops in different parts of the country were made in order to best understand how adaptation of various amaranth genotypes in the central zone of Chile is going. As a result of such studies, it was found that some varieties showed themselves better, others a little worse. But in any case, researchers will receive basic information about the yield of amaranth and the quality of grain. Such data, according to researchers, will be available as early as 2018.

Along with this, as Anna Pinheiro, technical adviser of the Department of Nutrition of the Health Department, explained the next steps of the project – to prepare proposals for the development of food prototypes based on amaranth for schoolchildren in the second semester of the 2018 school year.

Different ways of consuming amaranth: what can Chilean students offer
For consumption, all the amaranth in general will fit:

  • leaves and stems;
  • grains;
  • panicle.

From the grains of amaranth, you can cook porridge or get flour, which is suitable for baking – like bread, and any other.

Amaranth leaves are a cross between chard, arugula and spinach, with a high iron content. Therefore, amaranth greens can be used as a salad or become one of the ingredients of the salad in the chili school.

“In India, amaranth herbs are called spinach for the poor. We are working to determine which of the varieties of amaranth is most suitable for consumption in the form that contains the highest amount of protein and various vitamins, ”explained Professor Carmen Saenz, another member of the initiative group who works on the program to study amaranth and the possibility of using it in the diet of schoolchildren.

Finally, as chef Juan Pablo Ponce explained, another member of the project: “Amaranth can be used 100% in the kitchen because it is not so different from the everyday food of people.” Ponce is responsible in the project for experimenting with varieties of amaranth in the preparation of various foods, for example:

  • stew;
  • preserves;
  • chips;
  • mustard;
  • amaranth hamburgers.

The work of the chef allows you to create new recipes not just delicious, but also useful for children’s body dishes.

Summing up: what conclusions suggest a study in Chile
All this information once again confirms how valuable and useful amaranth can be in the case of its rational use. We are sure that soon the amaranth will be officially included in the diet of Chilean schoolchildren. Perhaps the experience of Latin American researchers should be adopted by our scientists, nutritionists, who are responsible for the nutrition of schoolchildren. After all, amaranth can significantly improve the health of children, make them stronger, and their organisms – able to resist diseases and viruses.

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