Have you heard the term, “ancient grains”? You may have seen it on cereal labels, cracker labels, breads, and other grainy products.
Sounds like a better , healthier, or fancier form of wheat or flour, right?
What to Know Before You Buy
Are the grains really all that ancient? The funny thing is that we have been eating all of these un-processed whole foods for thousands of years anyways. Can we call apples ancient? Haha, if you like.
These “ancient grains” are not produced on such a massive, global scale like our wheat and corn crops are. Some fanatics like to think this makes “ancient grains” healthier because they are not as over produced, and therefore, they think they are more nutrient rich. To me, I think these anti-wheat radicals are hypothesizing and pushing it a little too far. Even if this is 100% true, how much does it really affect our health?
I will still choose quinoa products over wheat when I have the chance because this one particular grain provides me a complete protein, and overall, more nutrition.
But, what about the other grains? Let’s check them out…
This one may be my all time favorite for its lovely nutritional profile. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids necessary to make a complete protein in our bodies.
Aka Khorasan. This is probably my least favorite simply due to taste. Kamut likely originated in Egypt, or Iran. Kamut does contain more nutrients than traditional wheat.
When I think of farro, I think of this tasty Giada recipe for a mac ‘n cheese style farro. Farro has a nuttier, richer taste and is delicious! It is also one of the more expensive grains.
Different grains are called “farro” in different countries. Sometimes barley or spelt can be called farro depending on what country you are in. The largest size farro is technically called spelt. But, the smaller sized grains are likely referred to as farro. Confusing, I know. If you want to learn more, NPR did a pretty good job explaining it HERE.
The main takeaway, is that it has depth of flavor and more fiber than many other grains.
When I think of millet, I think of the grains given to birds. But we can eat it too! Millet is gluten free, traditional to West Africa, and is not a rich source of nutrients and health except it does contain some B vitamins.
Perhaps the oldest grain? Dates back to the BC years! Spelt is a type of wheat, and its nutrition facts are similar to common wheat.
Amaranth reminds me of the flour used in graham crackers, one of my favorite comfort snacks! Amaranth has high nutrition and protein value similar to quinoa. When made into a flour, it is not as palatable, but the seed is often cooked to make a sort of porridge. It reminds me of an oatmeal version of quinoa if that makes sense. I predict amaranth will become the next popular healthy grain for its excellent nutritional value. 1 cup cooked contains 9 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 29% of your daily value for iron!
There are other grains considered to be “ancient grains”, but I think I will stop here or this post could go on and on!
Bottom Line: Read the nutrition facts before you buy. Read the ingredient label and make sure your first ingredient reads “whole wheat” or “whole oat” or “whole brown rice” or “whole spelt”, etc. etc.
Grains are healthy so long as we eat them in their most natural, whole form!