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.
- 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.
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)
- Seeds and supplements in the cybermarket.