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Family Amaranthaceae
Amaranthus cruentus Linn.

Lao ya gu

Scientific names Common names
Amaranthus anacardana Hook.f. Halon (Tag.)
Amaranthus arardhanus Sweet Kadiapa (Tag.)
Amaranthus carneus Moq. Kalunai (Ilk.)
Amaranthus cruentus L. Koyapa (C. Bis.)
Amaranthus esculentus Besser ex Moq. Kudiapa (Bis.)
Amaranthus farinaceus Roxb. ex Moq. Kuliapa (P. Bis.)
Amaranthus guadelupensis Moq. Urai (Tag.)
Amaranthus incarnatus Moq. Foxtail amaranthus (Engl.)
Amaranthus montevidensis Moq. Red amaranth (Engl.)
Amaranthus paniculatus Linn. Red shank (Engl.)
Amaranthus purgans Moq. Wild amaranth (Engl.)
Amaranthus rubescens Moq.  
Amaranthus sanguineus L.  
Amaranthus sanguinolentus Schrad. ex Moq.  
Amaranthus speciosus Sims  
Amaranthus spicatus Wirzen  
Amaranthus Strictus Willd..  
Halon is a common name shared by Amaranthus paniculatus Linn. and Morinda umbellata Linn.
Amaranthus paniculatus L. is a synonym of Amaranthus cruentus L. The Plant List
Amaranthus cruentus L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Fan xui xian, Tian xue mu, Ye gu, Luo ye gu, Lao ya gu.
INDIA: Rajgira.
MALAYSIA: Bayam putih.
MEXICO: Amaranto, Chichilquilit, Huauhquilit, Yerba de bledos.

Halon is an erect, stout, branched, unarmed, annual herb, growing to a height of 1 to 2 meters. All parts are usually reddish-purple. Lower leaves are oblong-ovate to ovate-lanceolate, up to 25 centimeters long, 8 centimeters wide, with long petioles. Upper leaves are similar in shape but smaller. Panicled inflorescences are terminal and are borne in the upper axils of the leaves. Panicles are 15 to 30 centimeters long, red, green or yellow. Flowers are numerous, about 1.5 centimeters long. Sepals are oblong to oblong-obovate, apiculate and shorter than the bracts. Utricle is 3-toothed at the apex, circumciss, exceeding the calyx. Seeds are brown or black, shining, about 1 millimeter in diameter.

- In open waste places, at low and medium altitudes, from northern Luzon to Mindanao.
- Introduced.
- Cultivated as a grain crop in some countries.

- Contains a high content of beta-carotene, ascorbic acid and folate.
- Oil from Amaranthus cruentus contain 19% palmitic acid, 3.4% stearic acid, 34% oleic acid, 33% linoleic acid, 9% docosaenoic acid.

- Crude protein of grain amaranth ranges from 12.5 to 17.6 % dry matter, higher than most grains except for soybeans. The protein yields around 5% lysine and 4.4% sulfure amino acids. Total lipid content ranges from 5.4 to 17.0 % dry matter with about 75% unsaturation, containing about 50% linoleic acid.   (14)
- Proximate analysis of A. cruentus are moisture 6.23 - 6.71%, crude protein 13.2-17.6 % (dmNx6.25), total lipids 6.3-8.1, crude fiber 3.4-5.3, crude ash 2.8-3.6, Na 31.0 mg (mg/100gDM), K 290 mg, Ca 175 mg, Mg 244 mg, Fe 17.4 mg, Zn 3.7 mg, Cu 1.2 mg, Mn 4.6 mg, riboflavin 0.19-0.23 mg, niacin 1.17-1.45 mg, ascorbic acid 4.5 mg, thiamin 0.07-0.1 mg, phytate (%) 0.50-0.58 mg, tannin (catechin equiv %) 0.043-0.13 mg. (14)
- Mineral analysis showed

- Nutritionally, leaves are an excellent source of protein. Plant is a good source of minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphorus and carotenoids.
- Studies have shown antioxidant, chemopreventive, radioprotective, phytoremediative properties.

Parts used
Leaves, seeds.


Culinary / Nutrition
- Seeds eaten as cereal grain; ground into flour, popped like popcorn, or cooked into porridge.
- In Iran and Iraq, seeds and tender leaves are eaten.
- Leaves considered an excellent source of protein.
- In France, leaves are used like spinach.
- In Southeast Asia, plant is used as a vegetable.
- In Nepal, dried seeds and ground into flour and eaten as gruel.
- Decoction of leaves used for chest afflictions
- In traditional and folk medicine, used for respiratory infections, vision defects, tuberculosis, fleshy tumors, liver problems and inflammations.
- In Ayurveda, leaf decoction used for chest afflictions and gastroenteritis; seeds applied to sores. . Seeds and leaves use as astringent for stopping diarrhea, bloody stools, hematuria, and excessive menstruation. (10)
- In India, seeds are used as food and medicinally, as diuretic.
- Also, applied to scrofulous sores.

Radiomodulatory / Gamma Irradiation:
In pretreated irradiated animals the level of GSH was significantly higher but LPO level decreased significantly. Study showed albino mice pretreated with leaf extract provided protection against gamma irradiation in mice. (1)
Antioxidants and Radioprotection: Study showed mice pretreated with Amaranthus extract was protected against various biochemical changes. Results support the postulate that increased ROS induced by radiation exposure may be involved in some of the aversive effects of stress. Antioxidants in the extract are able to cope with radiation-induced oxidative stress to some extent, and may be due to the synergistic effects of some herb constituents. (3) Study showed Amaranth supplementation provides antioxidative efficacy and benefits in learning performance after ionizing radiation exposure to the brain.
Radioprotective / Antioxidant Constituents: Methanolic extract of Ap increased survivability in Swiss albino mice against lethal dose of gamma radiation. Radiation induced augmentation in MDA, protein, and glycogen content of liver is significantly ameliorated by amaranth extract, and radiation-induced depletion in glutathione and cholesterol is checked by treatment with AE. Protection may be attributed to synergistic effects of constituents rather than a single factor, as all constituents are well known antioxidants. (8)
Antioxidant: (1) The ability of A. paniculatus extract to act as a free radical scavenger or hydrogen donor was revealed by DPPH radical-scavenging activity assay. (2) Amaranth seeds, in a dose-dependent manner, can act as a moderate protective agent against fructose-induced changes in rats by reducing lipid peroixidation and by enhancing the antioxidant capacity.
Saponins / Toxicity Study / Safety: Study concludes that the low content of saponins in amaranth seeds and their relatively low toxicity
guarantee that amaranth-derived products create no significant hazard for the consumer.
Antioxidant / Chemopreventive Potential: Study investigated the antioxidant capacity and possible protective effect of leaves on the antioxidant defense system in Erhlich's ascites carcinoma-treated mice. The leaf extract showed significant reduction in tumor volume, viable cell count, tumor weight, and increase life span of EAC-bearing mice. There was also improved antioxidant potential. Results suggest significant protection against oxidative stress conditions and a chemopreventive potential that can be exploited for antitumor agents. (10)
Radioprotective / Leaves / Gamma Radiation: In a study that investigated the radioprotective effect of an aqueous extract of leaves against gamma radiation in Swiss albino mice, results showed a modulation of radiation-induced decrease of reduced glutathione and the radiation-induced increase in lipid peroxidation in the liver and blood. (11)
Anaphylaxis Report from Rajgira Seed Flour: Clinical and immunological investigation on anaphylaxis after consuming Rajgira seed flour revealed SPT (skin prick tests) and oral challenge positivity beside high allergen specific IgE in the serum of the patient. Three IgE binding protein fractions were detect in roasted flour extract which were considered allergenically important for triggering anaphylaxis. (12)
Nutritional and Functional Properties as Infant Complementary Food: Study evaluated the nutritional and functional properties of A. cruentus grain grown in Kenya for preparation of a ready-to-eat product that can be recommended as infant complementary food. Processing amaranth grain did not significantly affect its nutritional and physiochemical properties. Amaranth grain was rich in protein, with good amounts of important minerals. Reconstituting the product with milk can enrich the deficient nutrients. The product would also be appropriate for use in geriatrics and immuno-compromised individuals. (15)
Phytoremediation: Study evaluated the potential of A. cruentus as a soil lead remediating plant. Results showed EDTA has some effect on lead solubility in soil as well as lead absorption by A. cruentus. Lead contamination did not have significant effect on growth and yield parameters of A. cruentus. Since the transfer factor (TF) is greater than one, AC may be a promising species for phytoremediation. (16)
Seeds and Products / Source of Bioactive Compounds: New products have been produced from seeds including expanded "popping" seeds and flakes. Study evaluated the susceptibility of biologically active products due to processing. Study showed protein, fat, and starch content did not change during seed processing. However, total tocopherol content of 10.6 mg/100 g seeds was reduced by about 35% in "popping" and flakes. Squalene content ranged from 469.96 mg/100g for seeds to 358.9 mg/100 g flakes. No differences were observed in fatty acid profile of seeds and products, while differences were noted in the sterol content. (17)

- Wild-crafted.
- Seeds and supplements in the cybermarket.

Last Update June 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: Digitally modified (1) Public Domain / Amaranthus cruentus L. - Hippolyte Coste - Flore descriptive et illustrée de la France, de la Corse et des contrées limitrophes, 1901-1906 (2) Photo - Amaranthus cruentus / Permission granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber. Source: www.biolib.deL. AlterVISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Radiomodulatory influence of Rajgira (Amaranthus paniculatus) leaf extract in Swiss albino mice / J Maharwal et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 17 Issue 10, Pages 1150 - 1154 / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1340
Modulation of Radiation Induced Biochemical Changes in Testis of Swiss Albino Mice by Amaranthus paniculatus Linn / Ritu Kamal Yadav et al / Asian J. Exp. Sci., Vol. 18, No. 1&2, 2004, 63-74
Amaranthus paniculatus (Linn.) improves learning after radiation stress / A L Bhatia and Manish Jain /

Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 85, Issue 1, March 2003, Pages 73-79 /
doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(02)00337-9 |
Indian medicinal herbs as sources of antioxidants / Shahin Sharif Ali et al / Food Research International 41 (2008) 1–15
Amaranth oil application for coronary heart disease and hypertension / Danik M Martirosyan et al / Lipids in Health and Disease 2007, 6:1doi:10.1186/1476-511X-6-1
Effect of Amaranthus cruentus seeds on oxidative status in plasma and selected tissues of rats fed with high doses of fructose / Pawel Pasko, Henryk Barton et al / bashanfoundation.org
Determination and Toxicity of Saponins from Amaranthus cruentus Seeds / Wieslaw Oleszek et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 1999, 47 (9), pp 3685–3687 / DOI: 10.1021/jf990182k
Studies of Methanolic extract of Amaranthus paniculatus L. on Mice Liver against Gamma Radiation / Manish Jain, Rashmi Sisodia and A.L. Bhatia /

Amaranthus cruentus L. (accepted name) / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Antioxidant Properties of Rajgira (Amaranthus paniculatus) Leaves and Potential Synergy in Chemoprevention / S Sreelatha*, E Dinesh, C Uma / Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, Vol 13, 2012
Evaluation of radioprotective effects of Rajgira (Amaranthus paniculatus) extract in Swiss albino mice./
Krishna A, Kumar A. / J Radiat Res. 2005 Jun;46(2):233-9
First case report of anaphylaxis caused by Rajgira seed flour (Amaranthus paniculatus) from India: A clinico-immunologic evaluation / Ramkrashan Kasera, P.V. Niphadkar, Aditya Saran, Chandni Mathur and A.B. Singh / Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol 2013;31:79-83
Amaranthus cruentus "Hot Biscuits" / Seedaholic
AMARANTH: Composition, Properties, and Applications of a Rediscovered Food Crop / Rita A. Teutonico and Dietrich Knorr / Ecological Agricultural Projects
Phyto-Remediation Of Lead-Contaminated Soil Using Amaranthus Cruentus / Opeolu B O, Bamgbose O, Arowolo T A, Kadiri S J / http://purl.umn.edu/54398
Amaranth Seeds and Products – The Source of Bioactive Compounds / Dorota Ogrodowska, Ryszard Zadernowski, Sylwester Czaplicki*, Dorota Derewiaka, Beata Wronowska / Pol. J. Food Nutr. Sci., 2014, Vol. 64, No. 3, pp. 165-170 / DOI: 10.2478/v10222-012-0095-z
Contribution of Amaranth Grain (A. Cruentus) on dietary intake and Nutritional Status of Adults Living with HIV in Mweiga, Nyeri, Kenya / Ndungu W. Zipporah; Kuria Elizabeth; Gikonyo Nicholas; Mbithe Dorcus / J. Basic. Appl. Sci. Res., 4(4)196-203, 2014

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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