The Truth About Amaranth Allergy

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Amaranth is sometimes promoted as a safe grain for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy. However, amaranth may not be suitable for everyone. Some people have an amaranth allergy, and others have to avoid amaranth for other reasons.

In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for amaranth allergy. We will also discuss other reasons to avoid amaranth and alternatives to amaranth.

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There is no cure for amaranth allergy. Avoiding allergic reactions, developing a safety plan, and ensuring a healthy diet are the main treatments.

Amaranth allergy is not common but has been documented in medical literature.

Amaranth allergy is caused by an immune reaction to the proteins found in the plant. When a person with an allergy consumes amaranth, their body produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies bind to the proteins in the plant.

This triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause the allergic reaction.

What is Amaranth?

Amaranth is a plant that is native to South America. It has been used for food and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It is a staple crop in Mexico, Central America, and many parts of the world.

The amaranth plant produces small, edible seeds which are rich in protein, fiber, and minerals. Amaranth leaves are also edible.

Amaranth is used in cooking and meal planning as a grain. However, it is more accurately described as a pseudo-grain or a seed. From a food group and nutrient perspective, it is considered a starch because it is a good source of complex carbohydrates.

Amaranth Food Family

Amaranth is part of the Amaranthaceae Food family.

The Amaranthaceae Food family is also known as the Amaranth Food Family.

If you are allergic or sensitive to amaranth, you might react to other foods in the Amaranth food family. These foods share similar proteins and may cross-react, causing an allergic reaction.

The following foods are part of the Amaranth food family:

●    Beetroot

●    Chard

●    Lambs Quarters

●    Pigweed

●    Spinach

●    Quinoa

●    Sugar Beet

Amaranth Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of an amaranth allergy are similar to the symptoms of other food allergies.

Reactions may include one or many reactions. Severity may vary based on factors such as the amount eaten and other factors.

Common food allergy signs and symptoms include the following.  

●    Abdominal pain

●    Atopic Dermatitis

●    Diarrhea

●    Difficulty swallowing

●    Dizziness

●    Eczema

●    Fainting

●    Hives

●    Itching

●    Itching in the mouth

●    Lightheadedness

●    Nausea

●    Nasal congestion

●    Swelling of any body part

●    Swelling of the face

●    Swelling of the lips

●    Swelling of the tongue and throat

●    Tingling in the mouth

●    Trouble breathing

●    Vomiting

●    Wheezing   

Call your doctor immediately if you or your child have symptoms of an allergic reaction. Call 911 in case of difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, or other life-threatening symptoms.


Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis can be caused by a food allergy or other allergens. Reactions may be more severe if more than one part of the body is affected.

Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis include:

●    Angioedema

●    Cardiovascular symptoms

●    Constriction of the airway

●    Difficulty breathing

●    Dizziness

●    Fast pulse

●    Lightheadedness

●    Loss of consciousness

●    Sensation of a lump in the throat

●    Drop in blood pressure

●    Shock, including a drastic drop in blood pressure

●    Swollen throat

●    Tightening of the airway

These reactions require immediate medical attention.

Amaranth Sensitivity

Amaranth may also trigger other immune mediated, non-IgE hypersensitivity reactions.

Amaranth may be a food sensitivity for some people.

Food sensitivities may play a role in many conditions, such as:


●    Atopic Dermatitis

●    Autism Spectrum Disorders

●    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

●    Crohn’s Disease

●    Colitis

●    Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

●    Depression

●    Diarrhea

●    Epilepsy

●    Fibromyalgia

●    GERD

●    Inflammatory Arthritis

●    Insomnia

●    Interstitial Cystitis

●    Irritable Bowel Syndrome

●    Migraine

●    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

●    Psoriasis

●    Restless Leg Syndrome

●    Urticaria (Hives)

Amaranth Intolerance

Food intolerances are generally defined as adverse food reactions that are not allergic reactions. These symptoms are not due to allergic or immune-mediated changes in the body.

Symptoms of Amaranth Intolerance may include:

●    Abdominal pain

●    Bloating

●    Cramping

●    Gas

●    Diarrhea

●    Flatulence

●    Loose Stools

These symptoms may be due to the presence of fibers or other starches that are difficult for some people to digest.

Cross Reactivity

Scientific studies on cross-reactivity to amaranth are very limited. People who react to amaranth may also experience symptoms with other grains, pseudo-grains, or similar plants.

Cross Contamination

Amaranth is often processed and used as an ingredient in a variety of products such as cereals, breads, and snack foods. These products may contain traces of amaranth proteins and can cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals.

It is important to read labels carefully. Also, be sure to ask questions when eating out to avoid these products.

Cross-contamination is a risk for people with food allergies. Cross-contamination can occur in many locations. For example, during farming and processing various foods may touch each other. Foods can also come in to contact with each other in homes, restaurants, and food service settings like hospitals and schools.

Practicing good food hygiene may help prevent the risk of cross-contamination.

Help For Amaranth Allergy, Sensitivity & Intolerance

Amaranth is often considered a healthy food and many people enjoy it as a gluten-free grain alternative. However, if you can’t eat amaranth, it is important to learn more. Working with a healthcare provider can help you manage your condition.

Working with an allergist can help you get an accurate diagnosis.

We recommend working with an a Registered Dietitian, Certified Nutrition Specialist, or Certified Leap Therapist. These food experts can help you identify which foods are safest for you and which foods you should avoid. Blood and skin tests may be beneficial.

Only a medical professional can diagnose an amaranth allergy with certainty.


Diagnosis of amaranth allergy is generally based on a combination of a physical examination, medical history, and allergy testing. A skin prick test or blood test can be used to detect the presence of IgE antibodies to amaranth. In some cases, a food challenge may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.


Treatment for amaranth allergy typically involves avoiding amaranth and foods that may contain amaranth. This can be challenging as amaranth is found in many products, such as cereals, breads, and snack foods.

In addition to avoiding amaranth, your doctor may recommend medications to manage symptoms in case of accidental exposure. These may include antihistamines or epinephrine.

Safety – Eating Out – School & Social Settings

If you avoid amaranth or any specific foods, it is good to have a safety plan. The following strategies may be helpful:

●    Always check ingredient lists and read all food labels.

●    Be aware of common ways the trigger food is used.

●    Be aware of possible hidden sources of the trigger food.

●    Ask your doctor if you should carry an EpiPen or other medication in case of accidental ingestion.

●    Have a support system such as friends, family members, school nurse, teachers, coworkers, and health care providers.

●    Ask questions about how food is prepared and handled.

●    When in doubt, choose safety first.

Other Reasons to Avoid Amaranth

Autoimmune protocol

Amaranth is not generally allowed in autoimmune protocol diets.


For people following a carbohydrate-controlled diet, amaranth would be considered a starch, cereal, or complex carbohydrate. It would be allowed in most diabetic diets and would be measured or counted as a source of carbohydrates and calories.


Amaranth is high in oxalates, which may contribute to kidney stones in some people.


Amaranth is generally tolerated well and included in Low FODMAP diets.


While technically a seed, amaranth is also called a pseudo-grain. It is rich in carbohydrates and would generally be avoided or minimized by people following a ketogenic diet.

Common Forms of Amaranth

Amaranth is often used as an ingredient in processed foods, and it can be found in a variety of products such as cereals, breads, and snack foods.

It is often used as a gluten-free alternative in baking and cooking.

It can be ground into flour and used to make bread, cakes, and other baked goods.

The seeds can be used as a side dish or added to soups and stews, similarly to other grains and pseudo-grains. It can also be served as a hot cereal.

Amaranth Leaves can be used as a leafy green vegetable, similar to spinach.

It is also used in traditional dishes in Mexico and Central America to make a sweet treat called Alegria, which is made by mixing amaranth with honey or another sweetener and adding other flavorful ingredients such as seeds.

Hot amaranth cereal in a white bowl with fresh blueberries and seeds for Single Ingredient Groceries blog post about amaranth allergy.

Hidden Sources of Amaranth

Be sure to check labels of processed foods to make sure they don’t contain amaranth.

It may be used as a main ingredient, condiment, candy, sauce, side dish, garnish, etc.

Be on the lookout for amaranth in the following foods:

●    Crackers

●    Baked Goods

●    Energy Bars & Energy Bites

●    Gluten Free Desserts & Baked Goods

●    Smoothie Bowls

●    Snack Bars

●    Vegetarian Burgers

Amaranth leaves may also be found in the following foods:

●    Stir Fries

●    Soup

Substitutes and Alternatives

If you are unable to consume amaranth, there are many alternative grains and pseudocereals that can be used in its place.

Some options include quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and sorghum. These grains are similar to amaranth in terms of nutrition and can be used in a variety of ways. Other options are rye, barley, oat, rice, and corn. These foods have similar macronutrient profiles.

Flours made from nuts and seeds, such as almond flour or flaxseed meal, may also be used in baking.

When choosing an ingredient to replace amaranth, it is important to consider how it will be used in the recipe, your tolerance of the specific ingredient, and if you need it to be gluten-free.

Infographic with title Amaranth Alternatives and list and images of barley, corn, millet, quinoa, rice for Single Ingredient Groceries blog post about amaranth allergy.

Final Thoughts

If you suspect that you have an allergy to amaranth, it is important to see an allergist for proper diagnosis and treatment. With the right care, you can enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle.

Lastly, choosing groceries when you have food allergies can be challenging. This is why we recommend choosing groceries made with a single ingredient and focusing on what you CAN eat, not just what you have to avoid.

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  • Dr. Lisa Hugh DHA MSHS RD LDN CLT

    Dr. Lisa Hugh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Leap Therapist. She is a Doctor of Healthcare Administration and has a Master's of Science in Healthcare Administration. As a Food Sensitivity Expert, her passion is helping people with complex medical and nutrition needs find food and groceries that are safe and enjoyable. Lisa enjoys helping clients in her private practice.

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