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Rajgira, also known as Amaranth or Ramdana grains, is consumed in India and other countries like Mexico, South America and Africa. It is considered to be highly nutritious compared to other staple foods such as wheat and rice.
The plants of Rajgira comes in all shapes, sizes and colours and the leaves are lanced or round. The flowers are like tiny globes and are pink, red or yellow while the seeds (or grains) are pink, white, yellow, brown, golden or black. Both, the seeds and leaves of Rajgira plants have therapeutic properties.
Rajgira is believed to be cereal but botanically, it is not. It is classified as a pseudocereal with edible starchy seeds similar to cereals. Rajgira belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae, which includes plants like spinach, quinoa, beetroot and chard. This is the reason why Rajgira is largely used for the preparation of dishes during fasting or festivals when the consumption of grain or cereals are restricted. 
In this article, we will discuss some of the amazing health benefits of rajgira. Take a look.
Nutritional Profile Of Rajgira
According to the USDA, 100 g of Amaranth grain (uncooked) contains around 11.3 g of water and 1550 kJ of energy. It also contains the aforementioned nutrients like: 
Health Benefits Of Rajgira
1. Lowers blood cholesterol
A study talks about the cholesterol-lowering properties of Amaranth grains. It says that when amaranth grain can help reduce around 20 per cent of total and HDL or ‘bad' cholesterol levels. It also helps reduce very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL) and improve digestive health. 
2. Provides satiety or reduces hunger
Ramdana is packed with high amounts of fibre that helps keep the stomach full for longer, provide satiety and reduce hunger. Also, starch in this non-cereal food item may help satisfy the appetite. This is the reason why amaranth is a part of some weight loss diets.
3. Has anti-diabetic properties
Amaranth has anti-diabetic properties, says a study. Dysregulation of calcium signalling indicates an imbalance of glucose levels in diabetics and Amaranth could help increase the content of calcium in the diet and improve its signalling in the liver, blood and kidney in patients with diabetes, thus improving their condition.  Also, the glycemic index of amaranth wheat is least compared to wheat and rice. 
4. Good alternative for people with Celiac disease
Rajgira is a gluten-free grain, meaning it is beneficial for people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which a person is unable to digest gluten found in food items like wheat, rye and barley due to immune reaction to eating gluten.
5. Slows ageing
Amaranth seeds are high in antioxidants due to the presence of compounds like gallic acid, vanillic acid, flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin and zinc. Antioxidants help reduce damage to the body organs, including the skin caused due to harmful free radicals. This can help slow down the ageing process and maintain good skin health. 
6. May help with migraine
Some studies say that Amaranth may help reduce the frequency of migraine due to the presence of magnesium. The nutrient helps prevent the constriction of blood vessels and arteries and can help relieve pain due to migraine. Rajgira also has potent anti-inflammatory properties; as inflammation also stimulate migraine pain, the grain can help prevent it by reducing the neuroinflammation. 
7. Helps boost immunity
Ramdana contains good amounts of vitamin A, a micronutrient that plays an important role in enhancing the immune system. It also contains other immune-boosting compounds like flavonoids, zinc, manganese and vitamin C that may help regulate the cellular immune response and fight against infections and diseases. 
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8. Good for bones
Calcium is the primary nutrient in making the bones stronger and preventing the risk of related diseases. Rajgira contains around 159 mg of calcium and thus, its consumption can help improve bone health, prevent deficiency of calcium in the body and reduce the risk of bone-related diseases like osteoporosis. Protein in rajgira also helps make the bone stronger.
9. Reduces the risk of heart diseases
Rajgira is good for the heart in many ways. It helps reduce oxidative damage to the heart cells due to the presence of high amounts of antioxidants. On the other hand, it helps maintain a balance of calcium in the body that further, helps with the smooth functioning of the arteries and blood vessels and reduce the risk of heart diseases like hypertension. Amaranth oil also helps reduce cholesterol and prevent the risk of stroke. 
10. May have cancer-preventive properties
A study talks about the anticancer properties of plants belonging to the family Amaranthus. It says that these plants contain bioactive phytochemicals such as flavonoids, phenols and tannins that may help inhibit the proliferation of cells and reduce the risk of cancer. Amaranth also helps scavenge harmful free radicals which could be the reason for the development of cancer. 
11. Helps improve vision
Rajgira is packed with vitamin A or beta carotenoids, a vital nutrient for good eye health and improved vision. Consumption of this non-cereal can help benefit the ocular system and improve one's eyesight.
Side Effects Of Rajgira
Rajgira has many health benefits but it may have certain side effects to some people and also when consumed in large amounts.
- High fibre in rajgira may lead to constipation, diarrhoea and kidney problems.
- High potassium in the grain can lead to heart palpitations, nausea and numbness in the limbs.
- Some case studies talk about anaphylaxis in people caused due to amaranth grains consumption. 
- People with intolerance to lysinuric protein must avoid consumption of amaranth as it may lead to gastrointestinal problems like diarrhoea and stomach pain.
Avoid consumption of raw amaranth grains as it contains anti-nutrients like oxalates.
How To Consume Rajgira
Rajgira is mainly used in the form of flour to make baked food items and desserts like laddo and chikkie. The flour is also used in the preparation of bread and parathas. Rajgira could be prepared in the same way as quinoa and popped rajgira could be eaten as oats by mixing it with milk, dried fruits and fruits.
Rajgira can be eaten every day but in small quantities. If you have a medical condition, consult a medical expert or a nutritionist before consumption.
Rajgira has many benefits; from preventing heart diseases to boosting immunity and from benefitting the skin to preventing cancer. It is more nutritious than other staple foods like rice and wheat.
Rajgira is rich in phytochemicals like carotenoids and nutrients like protein, magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron.
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