Amaranth is a unique plant that has found wide application in medicine and food industry. This is due to the presence in its above-ground part of valuable biologically active components, due to which a very high availability of culture is determined. This material presents an analysis of the chemical composition of amaranth and the possibilities of its use as a raw material for the production of dietary supplements.
Features of the chemical composition of seeds of Amaranthus L
All parts of the plant have biological uniqueness. So, the seeds have a high nutritional value. They are used to make flour, starch, bran and butter.
Depending on the species, the seeds contain:
- from 13 to 21% easily digestible protein;
- 6-9% vegetable oils having a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and biologically active components;
- 60% starch;
- a complex of vitamins A, B, C, E, P, carotenoids and pectin;
- a large number of micro- and macrocomponents, in particular iron and calcium.
- The content of triglycerides in the lipid composition of amaranth seeds ranges from 74 to 85%.
The plant contains a unique protein with a balanced amino acid composition, the main value of which are essential amino acids. Moreover, more than half of this protein includes albumin and globulins.
Amaranth fat contains a complex of acids — fatty oleic, linoleic, and linolenic — and the lipid fraction — up to 11% of the special squalene hydrocarbon, which is the main precursor of triterpenes and steroids, including sterols and their derivatives, which are used in the treatment of atherosclerosis. In accordance with the results of medical research, squalene is recognized as an essential component that plays the role of a regulator of lipid and steroid metabolism in the human body, and also has pronounced antioxidant properties. The high content of this hydrocarbon is a unique feature of seed oil, which makes it possible to consider the product as an industrial source for the production of squalene.
Biological value of aerial parts
The aboveground part of some species of amaranth contains up to 6% potassium and allows to provide 1-1.5 t / ha of digestible vegetable protein. This opens up opportunities for the use of crops in the agricultural sector for feeding livestock. In addition, the aerial part contains about 10-12% pectin, and the grain – insoluble propectin (the precursor of pectin). These substances are widely used in the food industry and medicine in order to remove heavy metals and radionuclides from the body.
Amaranth leaves contain about 15% protein, and it is among the best vegetable proteins in terms of the ratio of essential amino acids. In addition, it contains twice as much sulfur-containing amino acids, dissolves perfectly and is extracted.
A large amount is also found in the leaves of Amaranthus L:
- pectin (about 6%);
- ascorbic acid (120 mg%);
- carotenoids (9 mg%);
- polyphenols (16%, of which 4% are flavonoids quercetin, trepholine and rutin;
- trace elements In, Fe, Ni, Ba
According to information from other studies, they also contain vitamins B, C, A, betacyanin pigments, lipids, pectins and trace elements. The maximum content of biologically active components in the leaves of the culture under consideration was noted during the budding phase – at the beginning of the flowering of plants. At the same time, vitamin C in the leaves of 10 plant species was contained in an amount of from 69 to 100 mg / 100 g.
The use of amaranth as an additive to black baikhovi tea makes it possible to obtain qualitatively new tea products with an increased content of flavonoids, which have an increased P-vitamin and antioxidant activity.
Today, there is an active study of the antioxidant properties of polyphenols, beta-laine pigments, amarantin alkaloid, water-soluble pectins, as well as a variety of extracts and fractions obtained from amaranth. Amaranthus L is extremely rich in substances of secondary origin that determine the medicinal properties of the culture. Thus, the aerial part contains flavonoid glycosides of the type based on the aglycones kaempferol, quercetin and isorhamnetin. In addition, it consists of 3,7,4′-trihydroxyflavone afromosin and daidzein.
Due to this, amaranth shows quite high activity:
- radioprotective; anti-inflammatory;
The oil of this plant, which is capable of regulating lipid metabolism and the level of unsaturated fatty acids in the blood plasma, has a very high value, and also inhibits the growth of tumors and has a membrane-stimulating effect. In addition, amaranth has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties in therapeutic dentistry, providing a positive effect in atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and hyperlipoproteinemia.
The oil has been patented as an immunostimulating agent, which can also be used to correct the state of immunodeficiency during the treatment of diseases of various etiologies:
- metabolic disorders;
- ulcerative and erosive lesions of the gastrointestinal tract;
- neurodermatitis and many others.
Prospects for the use of amaranth
The possibilities of creating a new dosage form using amaranth oil – suppositories for the treatment of inflammatory and infectious diseases of the skin and mucous membranes have been studied. The high content of fatty acid esters and polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties, allows us to recommend the plant for use as an antioxidant in the dairy and baking industry, as well as for the preparation of high-grade nutritious foods / feeds characterized by high protein, dietary fiber, pectin, vitamins, – and macronutrients. Proven effectiveness of amaranth to increase the shelf life of dairy products without the use of chemical antioxidants. In addition, the antioxidant and prebiotic activity of fermented milk products with amaranth extract was studied. Using the nutritional properties of the leaves of this plant as non-traditional food sources will provide an opportunity to create a wide range of types of these products, which have a persistent prebiotic-probiotic effect.
But that’s not all! Today, a number of comprehensive studies are being conducted worldwide to develop efficient technologies for the industrial processing of Amaranthus seeds. This will allow the use of vegetable concentrate as an independent product, as well as for the manufacture of combined milk drinks and special food for persons with increased sensitivity to proteins contained in cow’s milk. The presence of the two most important components (carotene and vitamin A) allows amaranth to increase insulin production, which makes it possible to recommend the plant in the diet of diabetics, as well as the production of specialized dietary products and food mixtures for them. Low gluten content opens up broad prospects for patients with allergies and celiac disease. Betacyanins, which are part of amaranth, are recommended for use as a natural dye in the production of creams, jellies, ice cream and drinks with a high acid-base balance.
Thus, the plant is very promising in many areas of modern human activity – traditional medicine, food industry, agriculture, cosmetology. Subsequent deep research on amaranth should reveal even more beneficial properties of Amaranthus, significantly expanding the range of its use.
Therefore, amaranth can be called a culture with a great past and an even greater future!