A tall plant with broad, crinkly leaves and tiny bunched up flowers, kulitis is a native vegetable that is packed full of nutrients. Our local kulitis is a member of the Amaranth family, a group of edible plants that thrives in the hot regions of the world. The leaves are edible and are cooked similarly to spinach. The seeds are also edible and highly nutritious as they are packed with protein and calcium, making them healthier than quinoa or other popular grains. It was the staple food for some ancient South American civilizations. In the Philippines the leaves are widely consumed as a vegetable.
Effects on Immunity
Take a look at that nutritional chart! Kulitis is basically a super food, providing nearly your full daily requirement of Vitamin A,C & K1 with a single 100 gram serving. It is also very rich in minerals, providing high levels o f iron, manganese and calcium. This is much higher than many popular greens such as lettuce, kale and spinach (kale does have slightly higher Vit. A) . The seeds also provide a good deal of protein, calcium and minerals.
As we discussed before, Vitamin A & C are great at bolstering your immune response. Let’s take a look at vitamin K, or K1 to be more specific.
This vitamin, found mostly in leafy greens is very important in immunomodulation. Our immune system uses certain things like inflammation and high temperatures(fevers) to contain and destroy diseases. However these processes need to be regulated as they can harm the body if left unchecked. Many deaths occur when the immune system is tasked past it’s capacity. You may have heard of cykotine storms when reading about COVID. This is an example of one such instance.
Vitamin K is highly important in regulating and modulating your immune response. It makes sure that your body produces just the right reaction to handle your disease. 1.
As of this writing, Amaranth/Kulitis has the highest Vit K levels per 100g of any leafy green despite not receiving the same attention. Make sure to consume a good supply to ensure that your immune system is performing at maximum efficiency.
Kulitis is very hardy, easily grown and propagated. They love the heat and can survive long droughts. Chances are you will have some growing in your area (unless you’ve weeded it out!). The leaves are best eaten when young and small as the larger ones take on a bitter taste. They should be cooked till soft. As the plant matures it puts out a head of tiny flowers and in time each one contains a tiny seed. Our native Amaranth has light green stem and leaves, while varieties from around the world come in a range of colors. Our local variety tends to produce dark, even black seeds, but some foreign varieties have light brown colored seeds. The seeds can be direct seeded or prepared for transplanting and grow very easily, though they are attractive to ants! Cook the seeds like you would any grain, and a few spoonfuls go well in any soup.
Despite it’s ease of growing and abundance it is important to ensure that the kulitis you buy at the market is organic. While farmers do not typically apply chemicals to grow kulitis, it can often be found growing in the middle of chemically treated fields. Because it is so adaptable, kulitis has actually become herbicide resistant! That means that if the leaves are coming from a conventional farm system, they may have toxic glyphosate residues. Kulitis is so hardy it will also grow out of sewage and canals so knowing the source is very important. Avoid such plants for food. Try finding some seeds and growing some of your own. They will grow in any garden and will even thrive in containers, providing you with a source of reliable organic food.