Ancient grains have become staples in many diets due to their health benefits and exotic appeal. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend daily intake of whole grains to be at least half of total grain consumption. IFT Past President Mary Ellen Camire, PhD, CFS, discussed various ancient grains and their dietary benefits with IFT Food Facts to create this video.
Amaranth is a drought-tolerant grain that has been cultivated since 8,000 B.C. A good source of antioxidants and protein, Amaranth is an environmentally friendly crop because it can be grown without the use of expensive irrigation or a lot of water. Amaranth does not contain gluten, so it is not ideal for baking, but can be used to make porridges, soups and simple flatbreads.
Buckwheat is actually not a true grain, it’s a seed. Buckwheat originated in Central Asia and spread from Asia to Europe and eventually to the Americas. Buckwheat is gluten free and a good source of zinc, copper, manganese and high-quality protein.
Kamut is a protein-packed grain that can grow in places where many other plants cannot because it is drought and salt-resistant. It is closely related to wheat and has a nutty flavor profile. A 2013 preliminary study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found consuming products formulated with Kamut was associated with significant reduction in total cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Most people are familiar with millet because it is frequently used as bird feed. Millet is highly nutritious and packed with antioxidants and magnesium. Recent research has also found certain types of millet may be helpful in controlling diabetes and inflammation. Millet is cultivated in the Midwest United States, Africa and parts of Asia.
Sources: Characterization of Khorasan wheat (Kamut) and impact of a replacement diet on cardiovascular risk factors: cross-over dietary intervention study, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013.
2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
“Whole Grains and Health: Empowering Dietary Change,” Food Technology magazine, April 2016.
Finger millet bran supplementation alleviates obesity-induced oxidative stress, inflammation and gut microbial derangements in high-fat diet-fed mice, British Journal of Nutrition, 2014.