Most of us probably have heard of grains such as Chia seeds, Quinoa and Flax seeds but very few of us have heard of grains including Teff, Freekeh or even Amaranth. These foods including few others qualify as ancient grains. And they are being re-discovered in today’s ‘scantily’ nourished world as more and more people are becoming mindful of their eating habits and turning towards a healthier lifestyle, which includes being green-aware. And choosing what’s good from personal and even environmental point of view.
But first, the ancient grains! Nutrient-rich and full of good calories, these ancient grains offer us a whole range of health benefits, starting from enhancing immunity to improved digestion.
What Exactly Are Ancient Grains?
Though there is no specific definition for ancient grains, one definition from a whole grains council states them as those grains that are relatively ‘unchanged over the recent few centuries. For instance, a lot of changes have occurred to wheat over the decades so wheat cannot be called an ancient grain. But grains like Farro or Einkorn can be categorised as ‘ancient’.
Health Benefits of a few of the Ancient Grains
Let us take a look at the myriad health benefits of some ancient grains:
Sorghum: Sorghum applies to an entire genus of grasses that grow in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Only 1 variety of this grain though is fit for human consumption. Sorghum is full of dietary fibre; it is excellent for digestion. This grain is beneficial in regulating blood sugar and monitoring efficient blood circulation.
Teff: Teff looks like poppy seeds, but they are loaded with nutrients. You can find high levels of iron, calcium and dietary fibre. Cooked into a polenta or used in baked foods, Teff is excellent for blood circulation and as a weight loss agent.
Amaranth: Amaranth is used to make gluten-free flour and pizza dough. Rich in calcium, iron, potassium and fibre, amaranth grains can be cooked like oatmeal or can be used to coat a salad.
Kamut: Kamut is a grain that looks just like wheat but it is much richer in nutrients like polyphenols and fatty acids. It is also rich in selenium that helps to boost immunity. Full of anti-oxidants, it helps to reduce pains associated with IBS and it is great for reducing inflammation of the gut.
Farro: Farro is used proficiently in the Mediterranean diet. High in dietary fibre, it is also full of protein, much more than what is found in brown rice. Kamut is full of B vitamins – important for the brain and in maintaining a sound metabolic rate. Farro has a typical chewy texture that makes it great for making rice dishes.
Freekeh: A kind of wheat form, freekeh has a nutty flavour and is rich in protein apart from minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. Because the consumption of this grain gives one a full feeling for a long time, it is a good food for weight loss.
Millet: These grains resemble birdseed! But don’t be misguided by their appearance for they are full of heart-friendly benefits. They help to lower blood pressure and support healthy heart contractions. The magnesium in millet helps to improve blood vessel functioning.
From improving blood circulation to boosting immunity, from helping weight loss to reducing inflammation, these ancient grains are proving to act as health warriors for us! And chefs love their versatility and flavour. As per The Guardian, Michael Marriage of Doves Farm says “There’s been a phenomenal interest in older varieties recently. Many people tell us they find these historic grains are more digestible.” Go-to chef for all things grain-related, Yotam Ottolenghi, agrees. “They’re a very cheap way to eat well. A lot of these grains are great for those looking for an alternative to white pasta or rice or who’re keeping an eye on their intake of wheat.”
What’s your take on this?