In an age where we view carbs as “evil”, it’s time we talk about healthy, nutritious whole grains that add value to your diet and don’t deserve the bad rep other carbohydrates elicit.

There isn’t an “official” definition of Ancient Grains, but the Whole Grains Council generally defines these nutritious essentials as largely unchanged over the last several hundred years. Contrarily, the modern wheat we are used to, is constantly bred and changed, so it is therefore not an ancient grain.

Although this wholesome fare has been a dietary staple in many Eastern civilizations for centuries, it is becoming increasingly more popular in the West. We can find many examples of these grains mentioned in the lives of Greeks & Romans, Aztecs and even in the Old Testament.

Ancient and whole grains tend to be less processed and include more vitamins and minerals than corn, rice, wheat, or other refined grain products. Every whole grain has something different to offer and will supply beneficial nutrition to its consumer, but overall it is helpful to note that due to their high fiber content, ancient/whole grains are absorbed slowly into the body, helping to regulate spikes in blood sugar (an important attribute for those with diabetes). They also aid in the digestion process and the production of fatty acid-binding proteins. Some studies have even shown a link between consumption of ancient grains to lowered risk of heart disease.

So what are the types of Ancient Grains?

• Quinoa (gluten-free; plant-based protein, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, is a complete protein because it has all 8 essential amino acids)
• Amaranth (gluten-free; decreases risk of heart disease, decreases inflammation)
• Buckwheat (gluten-free)
• Bulgur (great for heart health, digestion, controls blood sugar, high in fiber)
• Rye (fewer carbs and more vitamins and minerals than wheat, high in fiber, alleviates constipation, reduced risk of breast and colorectal cancer)
• Freekah (high in lutein and zeaxanthin, helps to lower risk of degenerative eye disorders)

Some “heirloom” varieties of certain common grains are considered ancient as well.

• Black barley (high in fiber and good for heart health)
• Red/Black rice
• Blue corn

In short, whole grains are important sources of many nutrients and minerals, and one can look forward to a reduced risk of certain chronic diseases by consuming them. So next time you consider cutting carbs, remember your friends at Nutrition Link Services want you to take into account the significance of ancient grains first!