Teaching an Old Grain New Tricks: The Health Benefits of Ancient Grains and Seeds
by Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN
(NAPSI)—According to recent data, whole grain breads are flying off the shelves and into homes more than ever before. Why the surge? One reason may be that consumers are becoming more aware of the health benefits of whole grains. The superstars—and superfoods—of the whole grain family are ancient grains and seeds, which date back to when our ancestors lived off the land.
Ancient grains and seeds are a popular and smart choice for anyone craving authentic flavors while capitalizing on their health benefits. Naturally gluten free, these grains and seeds are great for everyone, but especially for people who have developed sensitivities to more widely used grains like wheat and corn. If you’re not already familiar with these special grains, here’s a closer look at these superfoods:
• Amaranth is high in protein, fiber and iron for improved brain function. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C and E, which promote a healthy circulatory system, and phytochemicals that lower cancer risk.
o Use amaranth flour to healthfully thicken soups and sauces.
• Chia is nutrient dense and full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, protein and loads of fiber to keep you feeling full.
o Add chia seeds to your breakfast cereal or yogurt for a breakfast boost.
• Flax contains lots of fiber, antioxidants and loads of omega-3s that improve heart and brain health. It also contains lignans, which fight against certain types of cancers and reduce plaque buildup that can lead to heart disease by up to 75 percent.
o Make a smarter smoothie by adding ground flaxseed.
• Millet is an easily digestible, heart-healthy choice rich in magnesium, which studies show can reduce asthma and migraines. It also contains serotonin that helps to level hormones and maintain a calm mood.
o Try roasting this grain before boiling to bring out a nuttier flavor.
• Oats have a high fiber content, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, helping to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and support a healthy cardiovascular system. In addition, oats contain phytochemicals that help to reduce the risk of cancer.
o Udi’s Steel Cut Oats are naturally sweetened with currants and chia and have as much protein as one ounce of chicken.
• Quinoa has high amounts of protein to help sustain energy and riboflavin to reduce the frequency of migraines. It also contains essential amino acids that aid in building muscle and maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails.
o Choose quinoa over white rice for a new take on stir-fry.
For more information and mouthwatering recipes incorporating these great grains and seeds, or to learn how to safely go gluten free, please visit www.udisglutenfree.com.
Bonnie Taub-Dix is director and owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC.