This humble plant has the potential to end world hunger, and to save any nation struck by agriculture disaster from starvation. The reasons are many:
1. High grow out ratio
A small amount of amaranth seed can quickly be increased so as to feed a large population.
2. Essential amino acids
Amaranth is a complete protein; it has every essential amino acid in better proportions than the minimum levels, recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. Amaranth has 108% of the minimum recommended level of lysine, and higher proportions for all other essential amino acids.
3. Total Protein
high in total protein – the USDA national nutrient database puts the protein level for amaranth grain at 13.5%. Hard red winter wheat is 12.6% protein and soft white wheat is 10.7% protein. Long-grain brown rice is only 7.5% protein.
Amaranth is high enough in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium to be a complete source of those four electrolytes. The only other electrolytes obtained from food are NaCl, which is simply table salt. So a diet high in amaranth, with about 3 grams of added salt per day (1/2 teaspoon), contains all electrolytes.
5. Other nutrients
Amaranth is a complete source of copper, iron, selenium, manganese, and zinc. It is a good source of some of the B vitamins. And the leaves provide vitamins A, C, and K1.
6. Amaranth is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, making it a complete source of fiber.
7. Amaranth is tolerant of adverse conditions (soil, weather, etc.), and is easy to grow.
8. The grains are easy to harvest, as there are many grains on each stalk, and no hulling is needed.
9. Amaranth does not require removal of a saponin coating, as quinoa does.
10. Amaranth is easy to cook.
11. The dried grains store well.
12. Amaranth, plus vegetable oil, plus iodized table salt is a near-complete diet. Add a backyard garden (or a vitamin supplement) and people can survive indefinitely.