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Suitability of Amaranthus species for alleviating human dietary deficiencies

Jimoh, Muhali Olaide, Afolayan, Anthony Jide, Lewu, Francis Bayo
South African journal of botany 2018 v.115 pp. 65-73
Amaranthus, calcium, crops, developing countries, dietary fiber, dietary minerals, economic valuation, essential amino acids, functional foods, gluten-free foods, grains, humans, hunger, medicine, nutrient deficiencies, nutrients, processed foods, public health, quality of life, tropical plants, vegetables, United States
Nearly all essential nutrients for humans are available in plants. Among vegetables, amaranths are rich sources for micronutrients and dietary minerals; an interesting group of crops to answer mounting demand for food. They are a promising group of crops with unique nutritional compositions that could enhance the biological value of processed foods. Compared to other grains, amaranths have the highest amount of gluten free protein, calcium, dietary fibers and essential amino acids required for a healthy living. By the estimation of the United States National Academy of Science of 1975, Amaranthus species were ranked major potential crops with the most promising economic values among the 36 underexploited tropical plants indicating that there are untapped prospects and potentials in their utilization. Worthy of mention is the menace of dietary deficiencies threatening public health and quality of life in developing worlds due to little attention being paid to one of the world's most promising vegetables. This paper therefore reviews existing literatures on the use of Amaranthus species as sources of food and medicine; their evolutionary history and overlapping roles in dietary fortification; nutraceutical properties; availability and wide-ranging adaptability to adverse environments; their global endorsement and how bioavailable their nutrients are with a view to finding a lasting solution to hidden hunger and nutrient deficiencies ravaging developing countries and the world at large.