So, before we jump right into it, what are grains exactly?
Grains are the fruits and seeds of cereal grasses. There are 2 types of grains you can find at the market: whole grains & refined grains.
Whole grains include the entire seed: germ + endosperm + bran. Refined grains are processed to only include the endosperm. Thus, stripping away much of its nutritional value.
Grains provide us with fiber, B Vitamins, and minerals. Fiber helps keep a healthy bowel and aids constipation. B Vitamins aid the body in releasing energy from carbs, proteins, and fats. Minerals commonly found in grains include iron, selenium, and magnesium. Wheat, rice, oats, & corn are probably some grains you already incorporate in your diet.
Here are several “up and coming” grains you’d probably like to try next!
Pronounced as “keen-wah,” this grain is better classified as a “pseudo –grain.” It is actually a seed, but falls under the grain category because of its similar nutritional content and how it is prepared in meals.
While most other grains are considered low in amino acids, quinoa is one of the exceptions. It is considered to be a complete protein source, meaning it provides all 9 of the essential amino acids. One cup of quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein, about 15% of our Daily Value.
This plump grain often substitutes wheat in a variety of ways.
Some health benefits to switching your wheat for spelt include its richness in B-Vitamin, niacin. Niacin assists our nervous system, regulating stress hormones. Additionally, niacin is great at maintaining efficient blood circulation. Spelt also contains high levels of potassium and low levels of sodium, keeping blood pressure levels at a steady level.
Freekeh (pronounced as “free-kah”) is an ancient roasted grain. It is simply wheat harvested at an earlier age, providing optimum nutritional value. The young grains are then roasted to give it a rich smoky and nutty flavor.
This ancient grain is abundant in carotenoid antioxidants that have been studied to be beneficial towards eye and skin health. Lastly, freekeh functions as a prebiotic inducing “healthy” bacterium in our digestive tract.