Amaranth, the Aztecs Wheat

Nutrition concepters August 8, 2016 4 0
Wheat, oats, barley, rice and rye are known cereals, staple for half the world. But worldwide there are dozens of other grains that have had a great reputation in the past and are now coming back into the spotlight. Think of millet, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth now.

Amaranthus grain of the gods

The huautli, tzoalli or alegna is one of the oldest and most important plant for the pre-Columbian life world of the Old Mexicans. From archaeological remains make the scholars that Amaranth was already used 8000 years ago, as well as food and in religious rituals to expel or influence the harvest favorably evil spirits. The seeds modeled one deities by mixing them with blood and honey. At the end of the religious ceremony, the idols were then eaten by the faithful as joint communion.
The Spanish conquistadors banned the 'sacrilegious' ceremonies, said amaranth deities were also discussed. The missionaries were held responsible for the eradication of this plant. But certain ethnic groups resisted: they kept in secret small fields of their sacred plant, and since independence from Mexico in 1810 and the huautli alegna reappeared in public in the form of delicacy.
Along with the corn and the beans are amaranth one of five tax payment in the Aztec Empire: annually spent nearly 21 tons of seeds! Amaranth grows well even in open and windy habitats and is easy to cross and quickly adapts to different ecological niches to. Domestication among the Aztecs was to look for it especially in plants with a higher yield of seeds that were collected and maintained to be processed in times of need. So it was that tumbleweeds with their black seeds, which served as a vegetable and as decoration, were gradually replaced by plants with white seeds, which have a higher nutritional value.


The same selection also increased the amount of red dye from the plant could be drawn, and which was appreciated by the Old Mexicans for its religious connotation: red was always the color of blood, the color of the devil, the fire and danger. Other wild amaranth species are grown and collected for Amaranthus cruentus, who supplied the red dye; Blitoides A. and A. hybridus which are eaten as a wild vegetable.

Nutritive value

The Amaranth leaves have contained a high nutritional value and the seed an extraordinarily high percentage of protein, and the essential amino acids for man. The seeds are processed into flour to make biscuits, marzipan, tamales and prepare like it. Along with honey and cane molasses also they make it turron with it, a soft nougat, which in almost all the streets of Mexico is offered for sale. What still remains of the plant, then serves as fodder. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. In Europe we also find various wild amaranth species which can also be used.
Especially in the sixties increasing interest in the huautli, along with the trend of vegetarian food and muesli. Meanwhile, there are food multinationals who huautli flakes mixing with the grains into their products. So, unfortunately or fortunately, Amaranth is not only ethnically or alternative food.