Considered the favorite food for astronauts in their diet, amaranth today has become the perfect ally for health , thanks to its inexhaustible properties. Amaranth, which in its beginnings became the main food of the ancient Aztecs, is highly appreciated in South and Central America. This wonderful food that is grown mainly in Mexico, is rich in benefits and nutritional properties, perfect for humans.
It is a tall plant whose leaves are wide and green, golden or bright red flowers, which can be found in about 60 species. Its flowers stand out for tiny shoots similar to grains, for this reason amaranth is often included in the category of grains. We must clarify that amaranth is not a grain like wheat, rice or oats; but its nutritional value is very similar to that of grains, which is why amaranth is sometimes called a pseudo cereal.
One of the most outstanding characteristics of amaranth is that it does not contain gluten. When it is ground, a pale ivory colored flour is obtained, although it is also possible to grind the red colored shoots and obtain a very healthy fiber dyed red. Because amaranth is quite dense, this food by itself is very heavy and therefore it is usually mixed with some kinds of grains to obtain a softer consistency.
The cooking of amaranth can be easily compared with that of rice or pasta, to prepare it you can boil enough water in a container, measure the amaranth inside, take it to the fire between 15 and 20 minutes while you stir the water and amaranth, then you must strain, rinse and finally enjoy the amaranth. As you can see, cooking it is not too complicated , if you prefer you can use amaranth for soups, sauces thickener, jellies, smoothies, tea, stews, salads, among others. When preparing amaranth you will have the total security of having an excellent food whose nutritional value has nothing to envy to real grains.
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Where does amaranth come from?
Amaranth comes from Central, South America (Ecuador and Peru) and North America (Guatemala and Mexico). Together with beans, corn and chia, they represented one of the main foods of pre-Columbian cultures in America. The Mayans used to call it “xtes”, it was this culture that used amaranth for the first time as a crop due to its high yield and its great nutritional contributions.
The Aztecs included it in their religious rites and it was known by this culture as “huautli”. The graves were adorned with the beautiful amaranth flowers. Regardless of the species you want to choose, after being cut they last for a long time, they retain their aroma, they become more delicate, but when they are on the way they are very beautiful; for this reason, it is widely known as a symbol of immortality and is called the “eternal plant.”
The Incas called it a little giant (kiwicha) and it was highly appreciated primarily for its medicinal and healing properties . During the conquest, when the Spanish arrived in America, amaranth was eliminated from the indigenous diet, for political and religious reasons since its consumption was prohibited in addition to cultivation, considering amaranth a pagan plant. Certain studies affirm that this was simply a military strategy to weaken the population and the conquest was not complicated, since this food was for the warriors. Despite this, its production remained in certain places away from the Spanish conquest.
Then between the years 1577 and 1890 it reached Asia and Africa, introducing its ornamental forms in the gardens of Europe. And later, in mid-1975 after a great effort to expand the food base in the world, a study was made which was published under the title “Under-exploited Tropical Plants whose Economic Value is Promising”, the study included the amaranth as one of 36 high potential vegetables. Thanks to this, different exclusive initiatives have been developed, which have achieved that amaranth is reinserted into gastronomic customs and gastronomic practice in order to include it as a frequent food in the food diet.
What other names does it have?
The scientific name of the amaranth plant is ” Amaranthus hypochondriacus “, it is also known by other names: purple attack, prickly amaranth, cockscomb, pigweed, flower that wilts basin, plush, velvet, sangorache and the unfading plant o eternal, the one that never fades. Although depending on the country or region it is also known under the following names: joy and huatli.
Why is it important to consume amaranth?
Despite its undeniable properties and benefits, all this potential has not been fully exploited. Growing amaranth requires a lot of effort and work, but trade and its harvest bring greater benefits. Forgotten by society, this treasure of nature is of vital importance, but unlike soybeans and corn, this plant has not been widely used and is still awaiting extensive technological and industrial development in its unexplored territory.
Compared with some grains, amaranth despite requiring a lot of effort, this is rewarded in the high yield, since it is possible to obtain a greater amount of amaranth per hectare, unlike sowing grains such as rice, beans, wheat or corn. Not only that, it is possible to take full advantage of the entire amaranth plant: the stem can be used as stubble and can be consumed as a vegetable, it has greater resistance to drought since it needs less water than other kinds of crops.
Amaranth has the potential to become one of the fundamental foods for humans today. For humans, the nutritional quality of amaranth is exceptional , thanks to its high content of excellent proteins, which, unlike grains, contain high amounts of basic amino acids and when mixed with some cereals, it is close to the ideal food described by FAO for humans.
It is of vital importance for human development as a support in the fight against poverty and child malnutrition and other degrees of malnutrition. In addition to having been used as a development tip for small communities and in cupboard endowment programs. Amaranth serves mainly as food for self-consumption of excellent quality, then the flour or grain is commercialized, until finally the micro-industries that manufacture amaranth product are carried out.
Amaranth is not just a plant, it also represents the perfect opportunity to develop a new industry with benefits for companies, the field, scientific research, trade and technology related to work. In this plant all a potential for development is concentrated for any nation and those who can achieve this, will obtain important benefits in the economic area and population health.
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Glycemic index of this food
Amaranth has a glycemic index of 35, this food categorized as a cereal. A serving (about 193 grams) of amaranth contains about 716 calories. Amaranth is more caloric, compared to the average for cereals, because for every 100 grams of amaranth it contains about 371 calories; while a serving of brown rice barely has about 111 calories, to cite one example. When talking about the glycemic index in amaranth , it depends more on the way in which it is processed and the rest of the foods that accompany it . In any case, most foods that are made with amaranth, generally have a high glycemic index.
Glycemic index of amaranth when it is ground into flour
Sometimes amaranth is ground or roasted into flour, this whole process can significantly increase the glycemic index, since flour is more easily digested than intact grains. When mixing half wheat and half amaranth we will have a GI of 75.5; But a combination of 75% wheat and 25% amaranth has a glycemic index of 65.6 (very close to the GI of unmixed wheat). Scores above 76 are considered high, but a GI between 56 and 75 is tolerable.
Glycemic index of amaranth when mixed with milk
When serving amaranth along with milk as a cereal, the glycemic index is 97.3 (very high). Amaranth alone would have a higher GI because milk barely has a GI between 32 and 41, of course this varies according to the type of milk chosen.
Amaranth in a low glycemic index diet
To include amaranth in a low GI diet, consume it with foods high in lean protein, with foods low in the glycemic index, or foods with a lot of unsaturated fats. The main thing is to choose vegetables that do not contain starch and prefer fruits such as oranges, pears, apples, in addition to other foods such as seeds or nuts that are naturally low foods. It is essential that amaranth is not highly processed in sandwiches. For example, you can cook amaranth grains whole, but using three parts of water for each serving of amaranth.
Uses and benefits of amaranth
It is not in vain that amaranth is currently considered the perfect food for human beings throughout the world, its properties give the body countless benefits and uses for health , among which we can highlight: its leaves can be Consumed like spinach and mixed with other foods or in salads, amaranth is often used to make granola and cereals, in the preparation of flours for tortillas, breads and delicious desserts.
The cosmetic and chemical industry has also used amaranth to make different dyes and oils . It is an excellent food not only because of the important amount of nutrients, but because practically the entire plant can be consumed and it is easily preserved, since it can be refrigerated for a long time.
With regard to the benefits of amaranth these are endless, but in general terms this plant helps regulate kidney failure, constipation, liver failure, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, among other conditions. From the amaranth plant the seed can be used to prevent colon cancer and it is an excellent food to be consumed by people who suffer from some kind of cancer, as well as being an excellent digestive.
On the other hand, amaranth is part of the foods selected as beneficial for patients with celiac disease and autistic people , it is an excellent support for geriatric patients and those with malnutrition problems due to its high nutritional value. Thanks to its low fat content, amaranth is ideal to be included in diets to lose weight and helps in improving learning and memory.
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Medicinal and healing properties
Amaranth contains polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-6, omega-3 and squalene, in its seeds, which help to reduce cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Squalene in amaranth seeds represents an essential organic compound that is also present in shark liver oil and olive oil, which performs preventive functions in certain types of cancer and protects cells that have not been attacked by the illness. The antioxidants contained in amaranth seeds have an anticancer and antihypertensive function in the human body. Furthermore, its ability to increase the efficacy of various drugs used in cancer treatments has been confirmed.
Amaranth seeds contain minerals and vitamins, among which are: folic acid, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, zinc and vitamins of group B1, B2, B3, B, A and C ; which help the better functioning of the person’s central nervous system. Lysine, one of the most complete proteins of plant origin, is contained in amaranth. All these peculiarities make the amaranth plant a cardioprotective that helps reduce glycemic levels, which is why it is widely used for the treatment of diabetes.
It helps people with diverticulosis and constipation through its high fiber content. In addition to being an excellent diuretic for the treatment of cases of chronic kidney failure or liver failure. It is a food whose properties are ideal for celiacs.
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Benefits of amaranth in children
To help increase the cognitive and physical capacities, the child’s feeding during the school stage must be adequate. For this reason, amaranth is usually widely recommended to be consumed by children, since it provides additional proteins to their body and improves nutritional levels . The variety in the food diet often becomes a big problem when analyzing the best strategies to maintain adequate nutrition in children and there is latent concern in many families, because nutritional values encompass different factors.
This concern arises at school age between 7 and 12 years, so it is important that as parents, take into account in their daily struggle to maintain a balanced diet some foods such as amaranth, which is not only nutritious, it also provides them with the daily protein needed to stimulate the learning process.
The high profile of amino acids contained in amaranth, among which is lysine, shows us a key food in the improvement of brain cells and growth. In addition, lysine is closely related to the development of memory, learning and intelligence. When the child has a diet low in amino acids such as lysine, it slows down the child’s normal learning and development process. Amaranth with its different properties provides you with an important amount of minerals and proteins that improve the body.
Now, we will detail the food groups that must be present in the daily diet of a child during the school stage, in addition to the nutritional contribution as amaranth is included in the last group. With regard to the first food group we find cheese and dairy products; fish, meat, and eggs are in the second group; then in the third group are fruits and vegetables; finally in the last food group we have legumes, cereals, pasta, sugar, bread, oils and this is where we include amaranth, which is a pseudocreal.
The adequate inclusion of amaranth in the diet will provide energy and protein at the appropriate levels to maintain excellent health, the natural development and growth of the child and the rest of the activities. We are sure that children will like to know that amaranth is a widely used food at NASA and highly recommended for the future . Depending on the age of the child, the amount of daily protein needed varies. In the growth stage, the requirements for the formation of new tissues increase. At the moment of organizing the daily feeding of the child in the school stage, amaranth represents an excellent option to be included in the diet because it is a rich, healthy and nutritious food supplement.
Benefits of amaranth in pregnancy
The consumption of amaranth during pregnancy is highly beneficial in this important stage, since it contributes to the good health of the baby and the mother. For this reason, amaranth is recommended because it contains significant levels of: iron, calcium , fiber, phosphorus, plant-based protein, fat , vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium.
The benefits of amaranth in the pregnancy stage can be summarized as follows:
- It benefits the correct and adequate formation of the bones in the fetus.
- It collaborates in the maintenance of calcium reserves in the mother’s body.
- It helps in the prevention of anomalies or defects in the fetus.
- Prevents anemia in the mother.
- It helps to avoid a common condition in pregnancy: constipation.
If you are in this wonderful stage and you have not yet tried amaranth, you can include it in your diet from now on, you will find it in flour or flakes and you can easily add it in salads, soups, yogurt, because it adapts perfectly to the flavors. If you prefer, you can consume some sweets that include amaranth. Currently there are no contraindications, but before starting to consume amaranth it is best to consult the treating doctor.
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AMARANTH IN LACTATION
Currently regarding the consumption of amaranth in the lactation stage, the risk is really very low both for the infant and for the lactation. So if you are breastfeeding, you can consume amaranth with full assurance that it will not cause any negative effects for any of you. Even in many countries amaranth milk is used as food for babies, it is quite alkaline, allergenic and protein.
Benefits of amaranth for diabetics
Amaranth is an excellent food that helps in the prevention of certain diseases, among which is diabetes, even amaranth is considered a superfood with high potential to save human beings in a scenario of famine.
We already know that amaranth is not a cereal, it is a pseudocereal that belongs to a herbaceous species. In extensive studies carried out in the USA, it has been shown that amaranth represents an excellent plant food to be consumed by humans. Surely you will wonder about the benefits of amaranth for a diabetic person, here we clarify this question. About 16% of protein is found in amaranth, compared to some common wheats that are between 12% and 14%. This is related to the caloric intake and the amount of carbohydrates that a diabetic should receive. An uncontrolled increase in this lipid or protein ration would be quite risky.
Thanks to lysine, amaranth provides quality to the diabetic . Cereals such as wheat, oats and corn are considered unbalanced foods, taking into account the constitution of amino acids, because they require high amounts of lysine to offer a good condition to the daily diet. However, the proteins found in amaranth have almost three times the lysine of corn, two times more than wheat. For this reason, amaranth is considered a highly recommended food for patients with diabetes , since it helps to fortify their immune system and as these patients need more fiber consumption, amaranth becomes an excellent support.
Indeed, for a diabetic person, eating can be a bit complicated and the quality of life depends largely on their behavior when eating. This is why it is necessary to include changes in the diet of patients with diabetes, so that mealtime is nutritious and enjoyable. Amaranth significantly favors this kind of problem, because in addition to being a useful food, it is rich in protein and is novel.
Amaranth, a food for astronauts?
Due to its high nutritional value, the speed of its cultivation stage and its comprehensive benefit, in addition to its excellent ability to develop in unfavorable conditions; amaranth was chosen to be included in the astronauts’ diet.
The amaranth plant was classified as a Controlled Ecologial Life Support System (CELLSS) crop, the plant is responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, generating food, oxygen and water for astronauts. In this way, the amaranth plant began to be cultivated since 1985 in space travel. During that year the plant germinated and flourished in space during the orbital flight of Atlantis. Dr. Rodolfo Neri Vela (Mexican astronaut) became the promoter of this important event and began to form part of the astronauts’ diet thanks to its nutritional and nutritional properties.
How to prepare amaranth
We have already spoken extensively about the incredible properties of the amaranth plant, in addition to its important contribution of proteins to the body , standing out among certain foods. Each of these properties makes amaranth the ideal ally for those who do not include animal protein in their vegetarian or vegan diet.
Here are some recipes with amaranth for this type of people among others, do not miss them:
How to take amaranth to lose weight?
As we already know, the protein content of amaranth has been proven according to important scientific research, even higher than that of any kind of grain. This plant can be used in its entirety, because its leaves, flowers and grains can be consumed without any contraindication.
Regarding the dietary point of view, it is possible to include amaranth in a diet to lose weight, thanks to its high fiber content, satiating properties and its high protein value. Taking these benefits into consideration, there is the possibility of adding amaranth in different preparations such as: amaranth tea, amaranth smoothies with flaxseeds, which will facilitate healthy weight loss.
On the other hand, for people who want the opposite, the following article may be of interest to them, How to Get Fat and Gain Muscle Mass Healthily .
Amaranth smoothie for weight loss
Nothing better to start a slimming regimen than preparing nutritious and energizing shakes to consume in the morning, read on to start enjoying this delicious option to lose weight .
You need a glass of lactose-free soy milk, a pinch of ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of amaranth, a cup of strawberries and a tablespoon of pure honey.
The way to prepare this smoothie is very simple: you just have to mix the ingredients and blend them in hot weather. You can also substitute the cinnamon for the vanilla to vary the smoothie a bit.
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Amaranth seeds for weight loss
Make amaranth seeds the perfect supplement to help you reduce measures in a healthy and natural way, following a high protein diet plan. Amaranth seeds are rich in magnesium, vitamins A and C, phosphorus, zinc, fibers, amino acids, among others; facilitating weight loss. They help protect cardiovascular health and combat the accumulation of fat in the body, because it is a good source of fiber that helps reduce hunger during the meal.
Here is a recipe for amaranth seeds with brown rice .
Prepare a delicious brown rice with amaranth seeds to lose weight with these ingredients: 100 grams of toasted amaranth seeds, 200 grams of boiled brown rice, cut a green pepper into wedges, some bean tips or asparagus.
First you must mix the brown rice with the toasted amaranth seeds, the pepper in wedges and the asparagus. To make the rice more digestive, add some zucchini with olive oil and salt. Cut the tender shoes into small cubes, they are really delicious and they are perfect at dinner time. Add a touch of cilantro or chopped parsley to the dish, if you like.
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Amaranth tea for weight loss
The virtues of the amaranth plant are undeniable, especially in the medicinal area and as a complement to a diet to lose weight. For this reason, we have chosen a recipe to prepare amaranth tea or amaranth water to lose weight , start now to lose weight in a healthy way with the antioxidant properties of amaranth.
You will only need a liter of water and two tablespoons of amaranth flowers or amaranth leaves.
Start by boiling the water in a container. Then you must place the leaves or flowers of amaranth. Let this combination boil for about 10 minutes. Remove the container from the heat. Let it sit for a while and finally serve the amaranth tea. You must bear in mind that for the proper functioning of amaranth tea, you need to maintain a diet low in fat and perform some physical activity. This delicious amaranth tea can be taken three times a day, after each meal.
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Where can I buy amaranth?
It is very simple to acquire amaranth in any presentation through multiple online stores. Although you can also find the fresh amaranth plant in stores dedicated to the sale of natural products closer to your locality, but if you prefer you can do it quickly through the online shopping giant Amazon .
- Bio Amaranth Seeds 500g – Rich in Proteins – Gluten Free
- Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic D’Amaranto Grains 1kg
- ECOLOGICAL SWOLLED AMARANTH
- AMARANTH GRAIN BIO 500GR
- Bio Virgin Amaranth Oil 50ml – Squalene – Omega 6 – Vitamin E – Antioxidant
- Amaranth Midzu 250g x 4 – 1Kg
- Bio Amaranth Flour 300g – Rich in Proteins, Fiber and Minerals – Gluten Free
- El Granero Whole Wheat Amaranth Flour 500 g
- Organic Amaranth Seeds 500 gr – Produced by certified organic agriculture
Nutritional information on amaranth
Amaranth has an excellent nutritional quality, it contains especially calcium, proteins, vitamin C and folic acid. In addition, roasted amaranth seeds provide the recommended proteins for children and have the ability to provide 70% of energy from the diet. When combining amaranth with rice, in equal proportions it is good to obtain the proteins suggested by the WHO (World Health Organization).
The amaranth plant has approximately 16% protein. Compared to certain varieties of traditional wheat, amaranth contains between 12% and 14% protein, with corn between 9% and 10%, between 7% and 10% with rice. It also has lysine which is an essential amino acid for the body, compared to some cereals the amount contained in amaranth exceeds it
Amaranth nutritional table
With regard to the nutritional table of amaranth, we can highlight that for every 100 grams of the amaranth plant , it provides the body with:
- Calories: 370 calories;
- Saturated fat: 1.5 g;
- Polyunsaturated fat: 2.88 g;
- Monounsaturated fats: 1.7 g;
- Sugars: 1.7 g;
- Dietary fiber: 6.7 g;
- Proteins: 13.6 grams;
- Potassium: 508 mg;
- Magnesium 248 mg;
- Iron 7.6 mg,
- Calcium 159 mg;
- Phosphorus 557 mg;
- Zinc 2.9 mg.
What vitamins does it contain?
Amaranth is rich in vitamins corresponding to group B, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A, it is low in gluten and polyunsaturated fats. As for the leaves, they have high amounts of magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphorus.
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Advantages of amaranth
We cannot deny all the advantages that amaranth offers us, a food that can be fully exploited, has a short cultivation cycle, in addition to having the advantage of developing without complications in adverse conditions such as drought, altitude, poor soils and resistant to cold. .
Thanks to the quality and quantity of proteins, amaranth has a high nutritional value, it contains, as we have already said, an important amino acid for humans: lysine, which is low in most cereals.
Amaranth also contains methionine, glycine, tryptophan and glutamic acid; perfect for pregnant women and children in school, breastfeeding since its protein value is higher than that of milk.
As for amaranth oil, it contains linoleic acid and is cholesterol-free. It is an excellent food supplement for grains. In general, the consumption of cooked and tender leaves is recommended to block nitrites and oxalates (antinutritional agents). There are various applications of amaranth or popping amaranth cereal: it is possible to make granola, artisan sweets, semolina, baked goods, fried foods, pasta, baby porridge, atoles, edible oils, among others.
Contraindications of Amaranth
Although amaranth does not present any contraindication, we have been able to find some possible negative effects in a low proportion, but that it is necessary to know: amaranth can cause irritation and diarrhea in people with irritable bowel, in people who are not used to fiber consumption Amaranth can general intestinal irritation, amaranth should be consumed without excess because it can cause abdominal cramps.
As you can see, amaranth can offer you some advantages and disadvantages, it all depends on the amount ingested and the circumstances of consumption. One way to avoid some complications is to first consult your doctor before adding amaranth to your diet, especially if you suffer from irritable bowel or other conditions.
What is better amaranth or quinoa?
The only way to know if amaranth is better than quinoa is through a simple comparison: for example, in a cup of quinoa we can find 40 grams of carbohydrates and 222 calories, but in a cup of previously cooked amaranth we will find more amount of carbohydrates (46 to be exact) and about 251 calories. Both have dietary fiber in about 5 grams. We can highlight that amaranth is richer in protein compared to quinoa , but both provide twice the protein that you can get from oats, brown rice and whole wheat. In a cup of amaranth we can find 9 grams of protein, but in quinoa only 8 grams.
Both quinoa and amaranth are high in zinc and magnesium, in addition to the contribution of iron, being that of amaranth higher. For example, we will have about 5 milligrams of iron in a cup of cooked amaranth, but in a cup of quinoa there is barely 3 milligrams of iron. Quinoa contains the required 18% of vitamin B6 required daily, whereas a cup of amaranth contains 22% of vitamin B6. Regarding the recommended amount of riboflavin and thiamine, amaranth is widely surpassed by quinoa with 15%, which corresponds to four times the contribution of amaranth.
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What is better amaranth or chia?
Both seeds contain significant amounts of fiber and omega 3 acids, making these seeds excellent foods to help reduce triglycerides and cholesterol naturally. Both chia and amaranth collaborate in the reduction of incidents related to cardiovascular diseases. Amaranth and chia help improve digestive transit and help reverse the symptoms of constipation. The two foods help in the purification of the body, improve glycemic regulation and when both are included in a diet to lose weight, excellent results are obtained.
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Which is better amaranth or oatmeal?
Without a doubt, amaranth has a high nutritional value and we have already demonstrated this. It is an excellent support in cases of malnutrition and anemia; rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins, being perfect for children and pregnant women. As well as the improvement of the symptoms associated with osteoporosis. As for oats, for decades we humans know and have verified the benefits of this cereal: together with amaranth it is considered one of the superfoods, thanks to all its excellent properties. Currently amaranth is taking a high position in popularity, in addition to being available more quickly and its nutritional value is allowing it to climb positions in which it is possible to surpass oats,It only remains to wait for the development of industrial technology that allows expanding the benefits of amaranth.
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Amaranth and its cosmetic uses
When talking about amaranth and its uses within the cosmetic area, we find some benefits related to its use in this field:
- Amaranth helps to delay the graying of the hair : not only is amaranth tea beneficial for the skin and neck, because your hair can also experience the benefits of its properties. You can apply amaranth tea or juice to your hair to help reduce hair breakage and prevent hair loss. It is possible to take advantage of amaranth leaves because they help to inhibit premature graying of the hair, these results have been openly proven.
- Vitamin E: amaranth is a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids with significant amounts of vitamin E , this makes it the ideal ally for beauty.
- Amaranth and its antioxidant properties: rich in antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; characteristics that make amaranth the perfect home medicine for cleansing the skin (eliminates free radicals), decreases inflammation and is quite good for treating microbes and skin infections.
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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.