What Are Ancient Grains?

We read cereal boxes, snack labels, and hear about these “Ancient Grains” all over the place these days. But, what exactly are they? And, are they as good for us as these sources are claiming?

Ancient Grain Overview

There is a collection of unrefined whole grains that fit into this “ancient” category. Basically, these are grains whose roots trace back to before we kept track of time. Ancient grains have not been mutated, bred, refined, and have been left greatly unchanged over the centuries.

Many ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Egyptians, and the Aztecs used (and worshipped) these grains. The Incas considered quinoa sacred and actually named it “the mother of all grains.” Some say faro was mentioned in the Old Testament.

Not all ancient grains are gluten-free, but fortunately, most are.

Gluten-free grains include amaranth, buckwheat, chia seeds, freekeh, millet, and teff. (Oats, spelt, einkorn, faro, and Khorasan wheat “Kamut” contain gluten.)

Are Ancients Better?

It depends on how one defines better. If we’re discussing the environment, then the answer is yes, ancient grains are better. Many of them thrive with less fertilizer and irrigation, as well as lower levels of pesticides in comparison to the modern, hybrid, selectively-bred grains, like wheat.

Various health experts will debate whether ancient grains compose a healthier diet than other whole grains. Many nutritionists, however, assert that ancients provide more vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

The Grains, Legumes, and Nutrition Council, leading experts in this aspect of health, explains that all the whole grains are similar. However, some ancient grains are considered pseudo-cereal grains because they’re actually derived from plant seeds, and not prepared or use like “true” grains.

Are they healthier? At the very least, the benefits range from superior levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a high omega-3 content. They are also an excellent form of complex carbohydrates. For the benefits and list of complex carbs click here.

Quick Guide To Ancient Grains

1) Teff. GF (Gluten-free). It’s so tiny, it can’t be processed, which is great. One cup packs in over 100mg of calcium. It’s starch resistant, high in fiber, and can help if you’re trying to shed pounds.

2) Quinoa. GF. Can be prepared in a rice-cooker. Comes in red, black, or white, and can be eaten cold like a traditional pasta salad, or warm with veggies and a lean protein. Extremely nutritious.

3) Millet. GF. It’s rich in magnesium and used in many “bread” products. It also hydrates the colon. Comes in red, white, gray, and yellow whole. Can be used whole or crushed into flour.

4) Amaranth. GF. It’s high in protein and can be used in desserts like cookies and cakes.

5) Sorghum. GF. It grows and thrives without much water. It can be utilized from a flour or syrup base, and can be used to make bread, desserts, and even beer.

6) Freekeh. GF. It’s harvested young so it tends to provide high amounts of nutrients. It’s also low in sugar carbs.

Other ancient grains include spelt, faro (also called emmer), Khorasan (also known as Kamut), and Einkorn. Sometimes these too are considered ancient grains: black barley, buckwheat, blue corn, black rice, and wild rice. (Remember, these are not all gluten-free!)

Hope this brief article on ancient grains helped answer some of your questions about this mysterious-and-healthy, old-yet-trendy food. Check back with Get Thrive soon for some delicious recipes using ancient grains, along with other healthy food tips.

 

 

An Ancient Superfood You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

There’s an incredible Superfood that’s been around for thousand of years. You may not know about “horse gram” yet, but you will want to!

No Horsing Around

Horse gram is actually a nickname. And it will soon make sense why. It’s the most protein-rich legume in existence. Racehorses for centuries have been fed this lentil because it’s low in fat, abundant in complex carbs, and offers maximum physical performance from its nutrient-dense composition.

Sounds too good to be true? Indian cuisine will tell you this is the real thing—and for people too! Horse gram in Tamil is called Kollu, and in Hindi, it’s labeled as Kulthi. You can find this Superfood under those monikers at health-conscious markets as well as Indian specialty food stores.

A List of A-mazing

Aside from the health benefits for animals and humans, horse gram is a practical, beneficial, plant-based food, which can be easily grown, maintained, harvested, and profit the earth. In this climate of uncertain weather and crop conditions, Kollu requires very little water to sustain itself. This lentil is virtually drought-resistant.

Where to continue? There are so many positive health components to this organic food; it’s tough to decide which ones are the most outstanding. As far as nutritional content, horse gram ranks high in protein, iron, and calcium. It’s low in sodium and lipid content. It digests very slowly. This is amazing for those who want long-lasting energy, not a lot of sugar and not a lot of fat. Sounds like a gift from the heavens.

Fancy terms like polyphenols and flavanoids are good words. Horse gram is wealthy with these—they are antioxidants—and may help thwart cancer.

A Bean for a Human Be-ing

Horse gram, because of its phenol content, can attack fat. Isn’t that great news? Additionally, it can lower blood sugar after a meal. This is incredible information for those identified as diabetic or obese. (Horse gram slows down carb digestion—thus reducing insulin resistance.)

CanaGel Melts

If you can get beyond the name and the taste, horse gram will work you wonders.

In fact, there are countless, incredibly delicious recipes using Kollu. You just need to find a palatable way to ingest this Superfood, just as you had to when you first discovered Quinoa and Kale. Remember those days?

Medicinal Properties

Horse gram has been used for countless centuries to combat the common cold. That sounds nice—and tame. But check this out: Eastern medical texts use horse gram for relief (and cure) of asthma and bronchitis. It’s a natural expectorant.

Get this too: Horse gram can help disintegrate kidney stones. It also helps with other urinary conditions. How about heart disease? Yes! Check that one off. That’s a biggie. Jaundice? No problem. Horse gram can cure that. How about high cholesterol? Done! “Silly” other ailments like conjunctivitis, hemorrhoids, bad gas, and PMS have also been squelched by ingesting horse gram.

If this isn’t a Superfood, then what really is?

There are many yummy recipes you can find online that incorporate horse gram. Even if the name turns you off, don’t neigh at its health benefits. Yes, I went there. Next, I’m off to the market to get some horse gram to make a delectable, curry soup. How will you incorporate your horse gram tonight?