What is Amaranth Grain & how does this differ to Amaranth E123?
Amaranth refers to a group of flowering plants belonging to the Amaranthaceae family. The seeds of these plants are commonly used as a nutrient-rich grain, and have been celebrated for its health benefits for centuries. However, there's another "amaranth" that you might encounter: E123 Amaranth, a synthetic food dye.
The natural, plant-based Amaranth grain comes in various colours, including gold, red, and black. Its impressive nutritional profile includes complete protein (it contains all 9 essential amino acids), high dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants [1,2].
On the other hand, E123 Amaranth is a synthetic food colourant classified as an artificial dye. E123 Amaranth is created in laboratories. It is used to impart a deep red or purple-red colour to enhance the visual appeal of various food and beverage products, such as aperitif wine, americanos, and fish roe .
Purported Health Implications of both Amaranth Grain and Amaranth E123
Heart Health: Amaranth's dietary fibre content may help lower cholesterol levels to promote heart health, therefore reduce incidence and mortality from cardiovascular disease .
Weight Management & Appetite Regulation: Its fibre promotes satiety and slows down gastric emptying, aiding in weight management by appetite regulation .
Bone Health: Amaranth is a good source of the minerals, calcium and magnesium, crucial for maintaining strong bones. It is also suggested that Amaranth may help prevent osteoporosis, although further research is needed [6,7].
Antioxidant Properties: It contains antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, which can help reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of chronic diseases [1,6].
Vitamins and Minerals: Amaranth provides vitamins like folate and vitamin B6, along with essential minerals like iron, zinc, and phosphorus [2,6].
Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to synthetic food colourants like E123 Amaranth, experiencing asthma or skin rashes .
Hyperactivity: Research has explored potential links between synthetic food colourings, including E123, and hyperactivity, particularly in children. An association was found in one study, however, overall evidence remains inconclusive. .
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
To safely consume amaranth grain and be cautious with E123 Amaranth, consider these recommendations:
Purchase from Reliable Sources: Buy amaranth grain from reputable brands or stores to ensure product quality and safety.
Thoroughly Rinse and Cook: Rinse amaranth grains thoroughly under running water before cooking to remove any residues.
Variety in Diet: Incorporate amaranth grain as part of a diverse and balanced diet, and use it as a base for salads, soups, or side dishes
Allergies and Sensitivities: Be aware of any allergies or sensitivities to synthetic food colourants like E123 Amaranth. Avoid excessive consumption of aperitif wines and americanos. Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect an allergy.
Barba de la Rosa AP, Fomsgaard IS, Laursen B, Mortensen AG, Olvera-Martínez L, Silva-Sánchez C, et al. Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) as an alternative crop for sustainable food production: Phenolic acids and flavonoids with potential impact on its nutraceutical quality. Journal of Cereal Science. 2009 Jan;49(1):117–21.
Zhang X, Shi J, Fu Y, Zhang T, Jiang L, Sui Xiaonan. Structural, nutritional, and functional properties of amaranth protein and its application in the food industry: A review. Sustainable Food Proteins. 2023 Mar 1;1(1):45–55.
European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Amaranth (E 123) as a food additive | EFSA [Internet]. www.efsa.europa.eu. 2010 [cited 2023 Oct 2]. Available from: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1649
McRae MP. Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine [Internet]. 2017 Dec;16(4):289–99. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5731843/
Salleh SN, Fairus AAH, Zahary MN, Bhaskar Raj N, Mhd Jalil AM. Unravelling the Effects of Soluble Dietary Fibre Supplementation on Energy Intake and Perceived Satiety in Healthy Adults: Evidence from Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised-Controlled Trials. Foods. 2019 Jan 6;8(1):15.
Sarker U, Hossain MdM, Oba S. Nutritional and antioxidant components and antioxidant capacity in green morph Amaranthus leafy vegetable. Scientific Reports. 2020 Jan 28;10(1).
Jeong YH, Haeng Jeon Hur, Ae Sin Lee, Lee S, Mi Jeong Sung. Amaranthus mangostanus Inhibits the Differentiation of Osteoclasts and Prevents Ovariectomy-Induced Bone Loss. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine [Internet]. 2020 Feb 7 [cited 2023 Oct 2];2020:1–11. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7029261/
Silva MM, Reboredo FH, Lidon FC. Food Colour Additives: A Synoptical Overview on Their Chemical Properties, Applications in Food Products, and Health Side Effects. Foods [Internet]. 2022 Jan 1;11(3):379. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/11/3/379/htm
European Food Safety Authority. EFSA lowers ADI on amaranth, completing its re-evaluation of azo dye food colours | EFSA [Internet]. www.efsa.europa.eu. 2010 [cited 2023 Oct 5]. Available from: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/100726
We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources. There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.