For centuries, humans consumed ancient, naturally occurring grains, but eventually these were replaced with mass-produced wheat. Now, however, ancient grains are gaining in popularity once more as a healthier alternative to processed, GMO grain.
As reported by Newsmax Health, whole grains have benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. However, today’s wheat grains – even if they are unrefined – are still creating problems for many people.
As Newsmax Health further reported:
Bred for high yields, wheat now contains high levels of gluten, which is a health concern for many. Increased levels of gliadin, another component of wheat, is another side effect of selective wheat breeding to boost mass production, and contributes to chronic inflammation.
That also includes GMO-manipulated wheat.
By comparison, however, ancient grains have not be manipulated or tampered with in any way, are typically not refined, and offer a wealth of health benefits.
“They add variety to the diet, in terms of taste, texture, and nutrition,” Shelley Case, a leading gluten-free expert and author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, told Newsmax Health.
“There’s no single one that’s the superfood,” she added. “You want a variety.”
A word of caution if you’re gluten-intolerant: some, but not all, ancient grains are gluten-free, experts note. The good news is that ancient grains are appearing more often now in large supermarkets.
Here are some of the best ancient grains:
Amaranth (gluten-free): This grain was held in high regard by ancient Aztecs as a sort of “super grain.” It has an earthy, nutty flavor and contains as much as 14 percent protein, including the amino acid lysine. This grain is also a good source of fiber, iron and magnesium, and studies have shown that amaranth can help keep bad cholesterol levels down.
To prepare, you can pop amaranth like you would popcorn. You can also toast it in a skillet until it pops and then consume it as a cereal with raw milk (try a healthy, non-dairy milk alternative!). You can also add it to salads and side dishes, or you can bake with amaranth flour.
Kamut (contains gluten): Pronounced “kah-MOOT,” this ancient grain contains more protein than regular wheat and serves as a nutritious source of fiber, magnesium, selenium, zinc and iron. As reported by Newsmax Health, a recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that kamut helped lower bad cholesterol, blood sugar levels and chronic inflammation.
Kamut has a decidedly nutty flavor. The grains, which are called berries, retain their texture when they are cooked, and that makes them ideal to add to soups and stews, salads, pilafs or as a side dish in place of rice. You can also bake with kamut flour.
Farro (contains gluten): Also referred to as emmer, farro is a nutty, chewy textured grain that became a staple food for the ancient Roman legions. Farro is higher in protein than fiber and regular wheat and serves as a good source of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B3.
Farro/emmer can be added to stews and salads, or it can serve as an alternative to risotto or rice. To prepare, cook one cup of farro in three cups of water or stock and allow it to simmer on low for 30 minutes. Click here for another healthy farro recipe that is quick and easy!
Millet (gluten-free): This ancient grain has long been a staple food in India and is popular in other parts of Asia and South America. It has a sweet, mild flavor and is high in fiber. Millet is easy to digest and it can naturally reduce your body’s acidity.
Uncooked millet can add crunch to breads, while cooked millet can serve as a side dish in place of rice or mashed potatoes. Some people even consume it as breakfast porridge.
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