WHY WE AVOID IT:
Once the staple of Aztecs, amaranth grains aren’t as widely available as other grains. Some cultures even consider it an annoying weed. The saponin content, a class of compounds that can irritate the gut, is a concern for some people.
WHY WE SHOULD EAT IT:
As a relative of spinach, amaranth grains contain much more lysine, an amino acid that is limited in most cereal grains and other plants. Compared to wheat, it is gluten-free, contains about four times more calcium and twice as much iron and magnesium. Several studies have shown that regular consumption of amaranth seed or oil may reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. As for irritating saponins, concentrations are much lower than in quinoa and can be easily removed by soaking and washing the seeds. As a leaf vegetable, amaranth is a nutrient powerhouse and is a good source of vitamin A, C, and folate.