Hi friends, how are you all? All good at my end too, thank you.
If you read on health topics, you might have come across a relatively recent term “ancient grains”. As for me, anything with the word ‘ancient’ about it gets my attention fast.
Ancient history, ancient literature, ancient civilizations and their customs, ancient wisdom…you name it and I find it fascinating. Do you too? Not that I don’t find modern wonders equally enchanting. New discoveries, new science and modern approaches to many things are equally awe-inspiring. But the pull of ancient is too great, for me!
When I first came across the term ‘’ancient grains’’, I was stumped! I even imagined archeologists finding a huge storage of grains dating back to very, very old times and selling it now. When I explored further, I realized that ancient here means something different but equally wonderful. Why wonderful? Just imagine something witnessing and withstanding all the major events our Earth has gone through, and surviving still!
What Are Ancient Grains?
Technically, the ancient grains are grains (or grass or seeds) that have been planted and harvested for thousands of years on Earth, genetically undisturbed.
Not exactly what I originally thought (as a huge grain-store found buried somewhere). There is no official definition available anywhere for ancient grains. Also, many whole grains can be loosely termed as ancient grains!
This could be a fancy marketing word too, to entice people like me! I mean we already know of many of these grains or pseudo-cereals. These grains might have been a new concept for western world but for us Indians (and for those in China, Africa and Middle East etc), many of these grains have always been used a lot. To name a few:
- Amaranth or Rajgira/Ramdana
- Buckwheat (Kuttu)
- Millets – such as Pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet (kangni/kakum), sorghum (jowar), finger millet (ragi) etc
- Chia seeds
- A few varieties of wheat e.g. kamut, spelt, farro, freekeh, einkorn etc
- Some wild or heirloom varieties of rice, barley and corn etc
Benefits of Ancient Grains
Am not going in detail of each of these, today. Each warrants a post of its own and I might do it as a series some day. Do you want me to, or not needed?
Since these are generally non-processed or less-processed, ancient grains are relatively:
- Denser in nutrition values such as vitamins, minerals, protein etc
- Higher on antioxidants and flavonoids
- Better source of fibre
And hence, these grains, when included in regular diet, can be linked to many health benefits such as better digestion, lower risks of heart diseases and cancer, better blood-sugar level management, reduced inflammation and many more.
Is it Worth It?
No doubt these are very healthy grains. Consumed whole and largely unprocessed still (at least till now), these grains are quite rich in fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Many of these grains are also gluten-free which is an added bonus, for people who are gluten-sensitive.
Healthy whole grains don’t have to be exotic. Most of the heirloom varieties are quite expensive too. The common varieties when made a part of well-balanced diet, are good enough for most of us.
Having said that, we can definitely add some of these ‘ancient grains’ to our regular diet. Not the exotic versions but the commonly available ones, for sure. They have always been around, actually!
However, before you do so, make sure the grain suits you. There isn’t a thumb rule. Each of these grains might do wonders or might make situation worse for certain medical conditions or specific goals. Do research the grain properly or consult your nutritionist for more details if you want to add these grains to your daily diet.
Hope you found today’s post useful and interesting. Do share it around if you want and do join me on Instagram for regular stories on Health, Nutrition and Fitness. DM me on Instagram if have a feedback or if you want to consult me on a one-on-one basis.
Till next Friday
Love, Health & Peace