How many of you have heard of the following grains?
Spelt, Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet, Einkorn, Triticale, Emmer, or Teff
Buoyed by record levels of health awareness, a search of gluten free baked goods, and a good dose of marketing, products made with ancient grains are finding their way out of specialty shops and into mainstream grocers. According to the writers,
Claims about the (ancient grain) breads abound: They’re said to be packed with whole grains, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and they’re supposedly safe for people with wheat allergies or gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease. But although the ancient grains are undoubtedly healthful and tasty, not all of the claims hold up. read more…
What you need to know:
These “ancient grains” have been around for thousands of years, just like corn and wheat. But unlike corn and wheat that have been selectively bred to the point that they are not similar to their ancient origins, amaranth and its brethren have largely been unchanged.
Nutritionally, each grain is a bit different, just like individual fruit or vegetable species vary. But that does not necessarily mean a superiority over the standard whole grain wheat. And while amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and teff are gluten free, spelt and kamut are NOT.
If you are choosing a bread, regardless of the grain type, you should opt for Whole Grain options, at least 3 grams of fiber per slice, and a minimum amount of added ingredients. See our series of posts on choosing breads. Spelt, for example, can be ground whole, or hulled. Always opt for unhulled, whole grains.
What to do at the supermarket:
Products utilizing these interesting grains come in all sorts of nutritional shapes and sizes. The fact that a bread is using kamut does not automatically make it healthy. So, as usual, be sure to read ingredient lists and nutrition labels.