Convenience foods are much-needed nutritional crutch to lean on for those with a demanding schedule. Sometimes, the only way to get a little caloric intake is to grab a ready-made snack bar. There are many conventional varieties available that claim to be healthy foods. But, in reality, these snack bars are often loaded with salt and sugar. Here’s some health advice: consider a snack bar made from amaranth.
Researchers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, recently studied the nutritional benefits of eating snack bars made from amaranth, an ancient grain originally used by the Aztecs. They noted the increasing appeal of convenience foods that could also supply potential health benefits for the consumer. So they set out to find what the best raw ingredients would be as far as high nutritional value is concerned. They eventually chose amaranth.
Why did amaranth end up at the top of the list? The researchers cited many reasons. Amaranth is gluten-free, so even those who have celiac disease can eat a snack bar made from this healthy grain. They also discovered that amaranth contains two special ingredients: inulin; and oligofructose. These two prebiotic nutrients help with the enhancement of calcium absorption. This is an important health benefit for you, as calcium keeps your bones strong and helps protect against osteoporosis, especially as you age.
The researchers then compared amaranth bars to commercial cereal bars. In all, they rated the nutritional value of traditional cereal bars, “light” cereal bars (lower in fat), diet bars, soy bars, and finally quinoa bars, all compared to amaranth bars.
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The researchers found that test participants rated amaranth from a 6.3 to a 7.6 out of a possible 9 when it came to liking the taste and texture of the bars. They also found that amaranth bars scored high when it came to caloric reduction and higher levels of dietary fiber. They concluded by stating that amaranth is an underused ingredient in ready-to-eat foods and that efforts should be made to incorporate this healthy grain into snack bars.
To boost the health benefits of your snacks even more, consider buying amaranth bars made with other healing foods like walnut, coconut and strawberry. If it’s hard to find anything made with amaranth, look for quinoa or other whole grains as a main ingredient to boost your nutrient intake.