Is Amaranth Paleo?


After quinoa – the gold of the Andes – left Peru and found its way into popular diets around the world, a variety of other unknown plants and ancient grains have begun moving into the world of American “healthy” foods. Just because traditional South American cultures have been consuming it for a few hundred years doesn’t mean its history stretches into the Paleolithic era. Let’s take a look at one such food item that is making its way into health food stores around the country: Amaranth. Is it Paleo?

What is Amaranth?

Amaranth is much like quinoa, it is a gluten-free seed that is cooked and treated like a cereal grain. It is not in the cereal family though, so cannot be classified as a grain. The common name amaranth refers to more than sixty different species of tall plants with broad leaves and bright flowers, often used as a vegetable, a grain, or an ornamental accessory. It dates back centuries as a staple grain in both Mexico and Peru, where it is still popular, often popped like popcorn and mixed with honey, or cooked into a porridge-like consistency. You often see it pop up in flour form as an ingredient in gluten-free baking.

Is Amaranth Paleo?

This grain-like seed is high in carbs – at around 65 grams per serving – with notable levels of iron, magnesium, protein, and calcium. It sounds like it might pass the Paleo test, but remember that pseudo-cereal grains still contain phytic acid, which is difficult for the body to break down. Amaranth is not Paleo or Primal, but if you’re going to eat it, make sure you soak and sprout it to break down some of the phytic acid.

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Image Source: Gluten Grain Free