10 Top Benefits & Side Effects Of Amaranth (Rajgira)

amaranth health benefits

Amaranth also called rajgira in India is an amazing ancient grain with wonderful nutritional benefits. We will immense health benefits, if we include it everyday in our diet and if we pop amaranth, it can be had as a high protein snack too. Here at home, we make a stir fry and mash with the leaves and stem of the plant.

Lately, I have started using amaranth seeds in my cooking and I have gotten really creative with it and so far, I have tried amaranth bars, amaranth pudding and a stir fry. I first came across amaranth seeds a few months back attractively packed in my local super market. When I looked at the nutritional information at the back of the pack, I was very much impressed.

I immediately bought a pack for cooking it at home, though I struggled to cook it perfectly (especially popping the seeds without burning) in the beginning, over time I learnt to cook it perfectly. I also did a lot of research about the health benefits and medicinal uses of this wonderful seed.

What Is Amaranth?

Amaranth is one of the oldest grains in the world, and it is a must know grain not only because it is ancient but because it offers a lot of health benefits. Amaranth is actually a pseudo grain that means though it has all the nutrients like a grain, it is actually a seed of amaranth plant.

Amaranth was cultivated by aztecs who lived from 14th to 16th centuries and it made up of 80 % of their diet. Amaranth was not only their staple diet, they also used it in religious ceremonies. The word Amaranth refers to all the plants belonging to the genus Amaranthus that has around 70 species.

Rajgira Health BenefitsAmaranth Common Names:

We call amaranth plant Chaulai in Hindi and the seeds are called Rajgira | Ramdana in Hindi and Marathi, Rajgaro in Gujarati, Mulai Keerai (plant name) in Tamil (if it matures, it is called Thandu Keerai) and the amaranth seeds are called Keerai Vithai in Tamil. Amranth Leaves are called Thotakura in Telugu and the seeds are called Thotakura Ginjalu, Cheera in Malayalam (plant name), and Harive in Kannada (plant name).

Amaranth Nutritional Value:

100 grams of amaranth seeds contain around 367 calories, 66 grams carbohydrates, 13.44 grams of protein, 5.3 grams fat, 4 grams of fiber and 303 mg of calcium. It is rich in minerals like manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, selenium, potassium, sodium and zinc. It is also rich vitamin B6, B9, B2, B3, Vitamin E and thiamine.

amaranth nutritionAmaranth Health Benefits & Medicinal Uses:

1. High Protein Content:

The first thing I noticed when I read the label at the back of the pack is it’s high protein content, 100 grams contain astonishingly almost 14 grams of protein! Especially for people who are on a vegan diet, consuming amaranth will greatly help meet their daily protein requirements easily.

2. Lowers Cholesterol:

Amaranth has wonderful cholesterol lowering properties. Amaranth has been proven to reduce LDL cholesterol significantly, you can read the study that proves it here. Any food that is rich in fiber helps lower cholesterol, fiber binds with the cholesterol and helps excrete it naturally. 100 grams of amaranth has around 4 grams of fiber, people with high cholesterol levels can include amaranth in their diet regularly.

3. Good For Diabetes:

Any food that keeps the blood sugar levels stable is very good for diabetes and amaranth does just that. Also amaranth is rich in manganese and diabetics usually tend to have low amount of manganese, so amaranth is a wonderful ingredient for diabetic patients to include in their diet.

4. Amaranth Antioxidant Properties:

Amaranth has both anti oxidant and anti inflammatory properties making it a miracle grain. Consuming amaranth regularly will keep us in peak health and will help prevent premature ageing as it is full of antioxidants. Try your best to include amaranth everyday, if not at least few times a week.

5. Amaranth For Weight Loss:

Amaranth keeps us full for long periods of time and is a perfect weight loss food. The last time I had a bowl of amaranth pudding, I didn’t feel hungry at all for a very long time. 100 grams of amaranth has around 367 calories but it will be hard to consume even 50 grams at a time as it fill us up so quickly in addition to keeping us fuller for longer periods of time.

6. Amaranth For Bone Health:

Amaranth is rich in calcium, 100 grams of amaranth has around 303 mg of calcium! Since calcium is very crucial for bone health, consuming amaranth regularly will help us have strong bones. For bone health consume amaranth as a porridge along with milk (any milk of your choice) for breakfast.

7. Amaranth is Gluten Free:

Amaranth is gluten free and for people who are allergic to gluten, amaranth is a wonderful choice to include in the daily diet. You can even grind amaranth into a flour and consume. Popped amaranth bars is also a wonderful gluten crunchy snack that you can consume everyday.

8. Amaranth For Hair & Skin:

Amaranth is rich in vitamin, minerals and proteins making it a perfect skin and hair food. Amaranth especially contains lysine which is essential for hair growth. Consuming just a small cup of amaranth porridge or an amaranth bar everyday as a snack will go a long way in meeting our daily protein needs.

9. Amaranth During Fasting & Pregnancy:

Traditionally in India, amaranth is had during fasting in the form of roti. As it is gluten free, high in protein and nutrients, it will keep one from getting tired during the fast. Amranth is also rich in iron that is why pregnant women are advised to include amaranth in their diet. Amaranth also can be included in children’s diet regularly

10. Amaranth Greens:

Like the seeds, the amaranth leaves also have wonderful nutritive value. It is rich in calcium, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin B, K and C. Amaranth leaf is a wonderful body coolant too. You can add amaranth greens in soups, dals and curries.

rajgira side effectsWhere To Buy Amaranth?

Amaranth is sold in all the departmental stores, 500 grams costs approximately around 150 rupees. Amaranth greens can be got easily from local shops that sell greens. We also get amaranth flour | rajgira atta but it is not commonly available here in South India. If you want to to make amaranth flour at home, dry the seeds for an hour or two in hot sunlight and grind in an dry mixer jar to get fine powder.

Amaranth Side Effects:

Amaranth is usually well tolerated by everyone if had in moderation but if you over consume it, it will cause bloating and stomach discomfort. Try not to consume raw amaranth seeds (some people add soaked amaranth seeds to their smoothies) as it has anti nutrients like oxalates.

How To Pop Amaranth Seeds At Home Easily:

1. The secret to popping amaranth is that the pan should be hot. The seeds should pop immediately when you add the seeds to the pan. The white colored ones are the ones that popped immediately upon adding.

rajgira chikki

2. The second important thing is to pop only a tablespoon at a time, since the seeds are very small they tend to burn very very quickly if you add large batches. Once you add the seeds, close the pan with a lid and swirl it around so the heat gets distributed evenly so the rest of the seeds that haven’t popped also pop.

amaranth in Hindi

3. Once you have popped all the seeds, it will look something like this, smaller version of puffed rice. Also, in my personal experience, few seeds don’t pop at all and I just sieve the popped seeds in a large hole strainer and they just fall off…

popped amaranthAmaranth Recipes | Rajgira Recipes:

Traditionally here in India, rajgira is used to make ladoos (using the same method for bars but instead of chocolate using jaggery syrup), rajgira kheer, roti (a mixture of rajgira flour and boiled potato), chikki, puri and rajgira sheera | halwa. Along with the traditional recipes using either popped amaranth, cooked amaranth and amaranth flour, try the recipes I have given below too.

1. Amaranth Bars Recipe:

This is my own recipe and it came out so delicious. For the bars, for a cup of amaranth, use a cup of chocolate chips. First pop the amaranth using the method above and add 2 tbsp of finely cut pistachios to it. Melt the chocolate along with a tsp of butter.

Once fully melted, let cool a bit and then add the popped amaranth and mix well. Line a square tin with cling film and press the mixture firmly and leave it in the refrigerator to firm up and then slice. This is a high protein snack that is wonderful for children.

2. Amaranth Pudding:

This is also an other recipe that I tried on my own and it came out delicious. For the pudding, soak 1 cup amaranth seeds overnight in a cup of water. The next day, add a cup of milk to it, close the lid and cook till it is fully cooked. Open the lid, add a tbsp of cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder and enough raw sugar | brown sugar to sweeten.

Add a few drops of vanilla too. Let the mixture thicken and then switch off. Pour into individual cups and chill in the refrigerator, you can either serve it plain or topped with fruits of your choice. A very healthy high protein dessert, for vegan version, use coconut milk instead of plain milk.

amaranth recipes


  1. Anonymous
    January 9, 2017 / 7:34 am

    Hi Ramya,A great information. Can you plz show us how the seeds and its plant look like originally, to identify this? As far as i know, amaranthus is a green, and its seeds are black in colour. I havent seen these seeds..Thanks.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      January 9, 2017 / 3:43 pm

      We had amaranth plant in our farm but since this year we had very little rainfall, they almost died out. I will update with the pictures soon..

  2. Susi*Pop
    January 9, 2017 / 4:32 pm

    Hello Ramya, this is a very interesting post about one of our ancient food in Mexico! We do a lot of recipes with this amazing seed, like bread using the seeds as flour or the bars as you make them, and we call them "alegrías" or "Joy" bars :)I write to give you another recipe, you can make amaranth drink also and it will be good for you in India when it get really hot during summer. We use to drink this with lot of ice!You need: + 2 cups amaranth seeds+ Sugar to taste+ fresh clean water+ ½ cup of milk (you can use dairy, coconut or any other milk you like)+ grounded cinnamon+ little vanilla extract To make:+ Place the seeds in a bowl and add fresh water to cover. Wait for the seeds to hydrate (as you do with the pudding)+ Place in blender with the sugar, vanilla extract to taste and the milk. Mix!+ Add some more water and serve cold.+ You can add ice to make it like a frappe or just serve it with two of them.You can add more milk or more amaranth if you want to make it thicker.Enjoy, and thank you for sharing all the amazing tips and natural recipes!-Susana

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      January 9, 2017 / 4:40 pm

      Dear Susana, Thanks a lot for the recipe, I am going to try it soon…:)

  3. Anonymous
    January 13, 2017 / 9:34 am

    Hello Madam can you please tell any treatment for ringworm?

  4. Ramya Venkateshwaran
    January 20, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    Yes, I would suggest applying mustard paste for treating ring worm, you can read about it in the blog…

  5. Anonymous
    February 5, 2017 / 10:39 am

    Dear mamhatsoff to your posts. they are very detailed, simple and easy to follow.could you please suggest any herbal treatment for ligament laxity for a 5 yr girl.

  6. Afifa Kauser
    March 29, 2017 / 3:27 pm

    Amarnath seeds refer to kash kash isit?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      October 26, 2017 / 3:11 pm

      Amaranth and kas kas are different Afifa…

  7. Anonymous
    October 23, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    Hello Ramya,I noticed this wonderful blog just yesterday and I am awestruck!You are doing a fabulous job.I regret for not knowing about this site earlier.This is truly a gift to us.Ramya could you please suggest a remedy to reduce belly..post pregnancy am finding it difficult to deal with it.?Awaiting for ur reply.. Many thanks& god bless

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      October 26, 2017 / 3:14 pm

      Hello, I am so glad you like the blog :), try these remedies, it will greatly help (copy and paste the link) :https://youtu.be/eCH_tKiGtR0

    • Saranya Sathish
      December 26, 2017 / 4:47 pm

      I tried amaranth pudding. It's grainy n didn't get cooked even after a long time. Can u pls help with this

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