Amaranth is grown in Asia and the Americas and harvested primarily for its grain, which is used as a food source for bread, pasta, and infant food.
Amaranth oil has been shown to decrease cholesterol and lipid levels when taken with a low-sodium, heart-healthy diet. However, other studies have shown that amaranth in conjunction with a low-fat diet has no effect on cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol. Early research has also shown that amaranth oil may lower blood sugar.
There is not enough scientific evidence of an effect of amaranth for any indication. High-quality research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Limited evidence suggests that amaranth may have antioxidant properties when combined with a heart-healthy diet. Additional studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Amaranth plus a low-sodium, heart-healthy diet decreased cholesterol and blood pressure in patients with heart disease. However, additional evidence is needed before a recommendation can be made in this area.
Limited evidence suggests that amaranth may stimulate the immune system when combined with a heart-healthy diet in patients with heart disease and high cholesterol. However, additional studies of amaranth alone are needed in this area.
Early research suggests that consuming amaranth greens may improve night blindness. However, more studies are needed before a recommendation can be made.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
A tea may be prepared by adding 1 teaspoon of amaranth leaves to 1 cup of cold water and consuming 1 to 2 cups per day. As an antioxidant, 200-400 milligrams of squalene, a constituent of amaranth, has been used daily. To enhance immune function, 600 milligrams of squalene has been used daily. A daily dose of 18 milligrams of amaranth oil has been used for 3 weeks for heart disease. For night vision, a daily dose of 850 micrograms retinol equivalents in the form of amaranth leaves has been used in pregnant women for 6 days per week for 6 weeks.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for amaranth in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid with allergy or sensitivity to amaranth.
Side Effects and Warnings
There is limited evidence of amaranth's adverse effects. Amaranth may contain high levels of cadmium, nitrates, antitrypsin proteins, and heat-labile factors, which may affect the nervous system. In addition, amaranth grown in nitrogen-rich soil may cause health problems. Amaranth should be used cautiously in those with kidney disorders due to its high oxalate content.
Amaranth may decrease serotonin levels. Amaranth may increase or decrease immune function and should be used with caution in patients with immune disorders or in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect the immune system.
Amaranth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Amaranth may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients with low blood pressure or in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure. Blood pressure may need to be monitored, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Amaranth is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Amaranth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or injection should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Amaranth may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood pressure. Blood pressure may need to be monitored, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Amaranth may interact with antihistamines, agents that affect the immune system, agents that have effects in the eye, and agents that affect the kidney, and may add to the effects of lipid-lowering drugs.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Amaranth may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood sugar levels should be monitored closely and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Amaranth may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood pressure. Blood pressure may need to be monitored, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Amaranth may interact with antihistamines, probiotics, agents that affect the immune system, agents that have effects in the eye, and agents that affect the kidney. Amaranth may add to the effects of lipid-lowering, fiber-containing, and mineral supplements.
Amaranth may affect the levels of amino acid-containing supplements and some essential fatty acids.
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Berger A, Gremaud G, Baumgartner M, et al. Cholesterol-lowering properties of amaranth grain and oil in hamsters. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2003;73(1):39-47.
Carlson BC, Jansson AM, Larsson A, et al. The endogenous adjuvant squalene can induce a chronic T-cell-mediated arthritis in rats. Am J Pathol. 2000;156(6):2057-2065.
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Haskell MJ, Pandey P, Graham JM, et al. Recovery from impaired dark adaptation in nightblind pregnant Nepali women who receive small daily doses of vitamin A as amaranth leaves, carrots, goat liver, vitamin A-fortified rice, or retinyl palmitate. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(2):461-471.
Kim HK, Kim MJ, Cho HY, et al. Antioxidative and anti-diabetic effects of amaranth (Amaranthus esculantus) in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Cell Biochem Funct. 2006;24(3):195-199.
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Shin DH, Heo HJ, Lee YJ, et al. Amaranth squalene reduces serum and liver lipid levels in rats fed a cholesterol diet. Br J Biomed Sci. 2004;61(1):11-14.
Shukla S, Bhargava A, Chatterjee A, et al. Mineral profile and variability in vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor). Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2006;61(1):23-28.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.