Going With the Ancient Grain

Going With the Ancient Grain

Movies shot on film often opt for grain to give gritty texture to a scene. For some directors the high-def glossiness of digital movie-making is just too refined.

We like unrefined graininess too … at least when it comes to nutrition. And ancient grains dish up a big helping of health benefits. These grains include einkorn, emmer/farro, khorasan and spelt, in the wheat family; plus black barley, red and black rice, blue corn; and some folks include sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa and amaranth. They’re packed with heart-friendly polyphenols, anti-inflammatories and nutrients.

An Italian study had volunteers eat a diet containing bread made from organic and conventionally grown verna, an ancient grain of Tuscany that’s protein-rich and contains only 0.9 percent gluten (common varieties of flour contain around 14 percent). After eight weeks, they switched to a diet of a nonorganic, modern refined grain; and then to a diet of two other nonorganic ancient grains.

Volunteers’ blood glucose levels and total and lousy LDL cholesterol fell significantly (3.9 to 7.8 percent) after eating bread made from ancient grains, organic or not. And the diet of verna-based bread lead to a substantial increase in circulating cells that repair damaged blood vessels. The diet of modern refined grain made glucose and lousy LDL cholesterol levels worse!

So for something a little different, experiment with adding ancient grains to soups, stews or serve as side dishes laced with fresh herbs. You can order them online or ask for them at your grocery store.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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