Amaranth Seeds or Amaranth Oil: Which is Better for You?
About 8,000 years ago, the Aztecs cultivated a powerful crop that became a prominent part of their diet, medicinal and religious practices. That crop was amaranth.
Since then, amaranth hasn’t had quite so much buzz, but even more has been discovered about the health benefits it has to offer. Did you know, though, that both amaranth seeds and the pressed oils from the seeds have their own set of benefits and strengths?
We’ve broken down the benefits of both amaranth seeds and amaranth oil so you can decide which works better for you depending what you’re looking for on your health journey.
Amaranth for beauty
The beauty benefits of amaranth are probably the most well-known today. Your hair and skin can both benefit from adding amaranth to your daily routine.
Both the seeds and the oil can bring you a beauty boost, but this is where the oil really shines.
The reason amaranth is so great in terms of getting softer, younger looking skin and stronger, shinier hair is partly because of the squalene in it. Squalene keeps your skin and other tissues lubricated and protects your body from toxins. To learn more about squalene, check out our recent blog post.
According to The Best Organic Skin Care, amaranth oil contains one of the highest levels of squalene of any plant source on Earth.
Many beauty products, especially skin care products, have squalene in them because it works wonders for skin health and anti-aging. However, you have to be careful because squalene is sometimes sourced from shark liver, which is both cruel and environmentally problematic as many of these sharks are endangered.
Luckily, amaranth oil has a high squalene content and comes from a cultivated plant that is very sustainable to grow.
Since amaranth oil is all of the oil without any of the solid seed parts, you can take less of it in order to get the squalene content you need in order to see beauty benefits.
On top of skin health, amaranth is also great for your hair. This is because of the amino acid lysine, found in the seed. According to Organic Facts, lysine “increases your calcium uptake efficiency and helps to keep the hair on your head, strengthening follicles and preventing male pattern baldness.”
There isn’t much evidence to support finding amino acids like lysine in cold pressed oils, like amaranth seed oil. It seems that unrefined amaranth probably does have some lysine in it but you’ll get more from eating the whole seeds.
Amaranth for heart health
In terms of heart health, both the amaranth seeds and the oil can do you good.
In a feature on Huffpost, they cite multiple studies that “have shown that amaranth could have cholesterol-lowering potential. For example, in 1996 an American study found that the oil found in amaranth could lower total and LDL cholesterol in chickens. Another published in 2003, out of Guelph, showed that amaranth has phytosterols, which have cholesterol-cutting properties”.
Squalene, the same compound that beautifies your hair and smoothes your skin, can also protect your heart. A study done by the US Department of Agriculture found that in hamsters, the healthy oils in amaranth reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
NYR Natural News says amaranth also contains a peptide called lunasin, which has been known to combat inflammation associated with issues such as heart disease and stroke, rutin, which can strengthen capillary walls and nicotiflorin, which also works against inflammation.
Lunasin is found in both the seed and in the seed oils, but like many of the benefits the seed and the oil share, it’s easier to get the compound in a concentrated amount by taking the oil.
In a study published in the journal of Lipids in Health and Disease, it was concluded that amaranth oil can protect cellular membranes against oxidative damage, working as an antioxidant supplement.
“The inclusion of amaranth oil in the diet has a beneficial action upon the clinical presentation of Coronary Heart Disease and Hypertension. Its beneficial action is seen best when used at a dose of 18 ml per day. Amaranth oil decreases the amount of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and VLDL significantly. The concentration-dependent cholesterol lowering effect of characterizing amaranth oil has been proven. The inclusion of amaranth oil in the diet contributes to an increase in the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly, long-chain acid of omega 3 families in patients suffering from hypertension and coronary heart disease.”
Source of key vitamins and minerals
Eating either amaranth grains or the oil can almost be compared to taking a multivitamin.
This small seed is packed full of vitamins and minerals. According to the Huffpost feature on amaranth we mentioned above, this seed is a source of key vitamins and minerals, containing “calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. One cup of uncooked amaranth has 31 percent of the RDA for calcium, 14 percent for vitamin C, and a whopping 82 percent for iron.”
According to Food Facts by Dr. Mercola, “amaranth is one of the most protein-rich of any plant-based food, rivaling that of animal based foods like cheese. […] One cup of raw amaranth also contains 18 milligrams of fiber; in comparison, white rice contains 2.4 grams. At 105% of the daily value per serving, the manganese in amaranth is off the charts, yet it contains fewer carbohydrates. […] Amaranth contains 6 to 10% oil, predominantly unsaturated, or around 77% unsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic acid, required for optimum nutrition. […] amaranth is the only grain with documented vitamin C content.”
The high nutritional value of amaranth means this small seed can help boost your immune system and keep your body’s defenses up against pesky viruses. It can also make it a valuable part of eating for complete nutrition, which can curtail cravings. Check out our posts on complete nutrition for weight loss and controlling cravings with minerals and vitamins to learn more.
In terms of vitamins, the oil has a concentrated amount in each serving. However, if you’re taking amaranth for the mineral content, the seeds are a better bet. There isn’t much evidence to indicate whether or not minerals come through in unrefined oils.
So, which is best?
As it turns out, we aren’t here to recommend one or the other, but rather both. To get the most out of amaranth seed, we recommend taking both the seed and the pressed oil.
The seed is quite similar to quinoa, which makes it pretty easy to add to your diet. Swap it into any recipe in place of quinoa, rice, couscous, bulgur or other grains you may be eating.
What’s great about the oil is that you can get a lot of the nutrients from a small amount, making it a healthy boost to your daily smoothie (not a smoothie fan? Just take it by the spoonful!).
Either way, it’s very important to put only the best seeds and oils into your body. Perfect Press® Amaranth Oil is made from 100% organic, non-GMO seeds pressed using Perfect Press Technology.