5 Nutrient-Packed Grains You Probably Haven't Used Before
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As you have probably heard from countless T.V. commercials, most Americans do not eat enough whole grains. By consuming at least three servings of whole grains each day, you can help prevent chronic health conditions such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.
Many assume whole grain bread, pasta, rice, and oatmeal are their only options for getting their grains, but there are a large number of whole grains available, including these five:
About This Grain: Also called lovegrass, teff originates from Ethiopia, and has a light, yet distinct nutty flavor. Teff is by far the world’s smallest grain (about the size of a poppy seed), and for this reason it cooks quite quickly compared to other whole grains.
Nutritional Benefits: Teff is gluten-free and high in thiamin (31% daily value per cup), folate (11% DV), niacin (11% DV), and vitamin B6 (12% DV). Teff can help prevent colon cancer, thanks to its rich composition of high-resistance starch.
Calories Per Cup (cooked): 255
Baking/Cooking Uses: Teff is a great addition to a wide variety of foods, including soups, muffins, breads, biscuits, cookies, cereals, and even your favorite salad dressing.
About This Grain: Millet originated in Northern China, and was considered to be one of the five sacred crops to the Ancient Chinese. Millet can easily thrive in areas with limited rainfall, and grows on stalks that reach as high as 15 feet tall. This grain has a subtle, yet sweet taste. Believe it or not, some companies use millet in bean bags!
Nutritional Benefits: Millet is a good source of protein (11% DV per cup), fiber (9% DV), manganese (24% DV), copper (14% DV), phosphorus (17% DV), magnesium (19%DV), niacin, and thiamin (12% DV each).
Calories Per Cup (cooked): 207
Baking/Cooking Uses: Millet is used in cereal, tofu, muffins, bread, and pancakes.
#3: Greenwheat Freekeh
About This Grain: Freekeh originated in Egypt and the Middle East, and is harvested at an early stage of the grain’s growth for optimal flavor. How was this discovered, you may wonder. According to legend, an Eastern Mediterranean city-state feared they were about to be attacked by a neighboring enemy back in 2300 B.C. Worried that they would starve since their crops were not yet cultivated, they harvested early, and discovered the wonderful taste of Freekeh when picked early.
Nutritional Benefits: If you’re looking for a grain packed with fiber, Freekeh is the one – one cup contains an astounding 80% DV of fiber, as well as nearly one-quarter the recommended daily serving of protein.
Calories Per Cup (cooked): 400
Baking/Cooking Uses: You can include Freekeh in soup, burgers, stuffing, pilaf, salads, and even cake.
About This Grain: Barley originated in East Asia, and has been used since the Stone Age, and was introduced in North America in 1602 by the Pilgrims. Today, the U.S. is the third largest producer of the grain, and barley is the fourth most consumed grain in the world.
Nutritional Benefits: Barley is high in fiber (52% DV), protein (24% DV), copper (31%), and may help lower cholesterol and prevent some chronic diseases.
Calories Per Cup (cooked): 270
Baking/Cooking Uses: Barley can be used in soups, risotto, baked goods, and malted to make whiskey or beer.
# 5: Khorasan
About This Grain: You probably are more familiar with the name Kamut, which is the common brand of khorasan wheat. Khorasan originated in the Fertile Crescent region, and is widely used throughout the world. It is known for its naturally smooth texture, and nutty tasted.
Nutritional Benefits: Not only does Khorasan have antioxidants, but it also contains high amounts of calcium per cup (60% DV) and iron per cup (over 160% DV).
Calories Per Cup (cooked): 680
Baking/Cooking Uses: Khorasan is commonly used in baked goods, soups, pilaf, pastas, cereals, and salads.
Make sure you are incorporating enough whole grains in your diet, and consider purchasing grains you've never tried (or heard of) before, and try something new!