Have You Heard Of These 5 Whole Grains?

by Sumdima Rai

Low-carb diets, Paleo diet and gluten-free diets seem to have become the norm these days. Like many others, I have mulled over the impact of carbs because of their tendency to impact weight gain. I often wonder, with carbs getting such a bad rap, and with so many other nutrients doing the work for me, do I really need to include carbs in my food? 

The truth, research suggests, is that not all carbs are bad. While simple carbs need to be shunned from your diet, complex carbs, found mainly in whole grains, provide a number of health benefits that no other foods can give you. Unlike refined grains (white rice, bread, pasta) in which the bran and germ are stripped away, whole grain (wheat, amaranth, barley) have all of the parts of the original kernel—bran, germ, endosperm, and therefore contain all the naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in its original proportions. “You’re getting fiber, a healthy plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals and a variety of phytochemicals that will improve your health,” says Lilian Cheung, a lecturer in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, as reported by the Huffington Post.

But don’t whole grains contain the popularly despised and controversial gluten? The USDA recommends eating grains daily and it also says that at least half of those should be whole grains. So, unless you have celiac disease (an autoimmune form of gluten intolerance), are allergic to wheat, or may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no reason for the rest of us to go gluten-free. But if you want to go gluten-free anyway, there are plenty of whole grain options you can indulge in.

We've round up a list of five whole grains that take care of your daily nutritional requirement, are gluten-free and make for delicious, wholesome meals.  

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is considered a pseudocereal (foods that are cooked and eaten like grains and have similar nutrient profile). Quinoa has acquired a superfood status because of its high nutritional content, muscle-boosting and fat-burning protein, fiber which helps fight cardiovascular diseases and controls blood sugar, and other beneficial nutrients like magnesium, potassium, B-vitamins, iron, zinc, copper and antioxidants that boost metabolism and lower risks of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. And, it's gluten-free!

Have it plain or whip up these yummy quinoa recipes.

2. Amaranth

Amaranth is gaining popularity because it contains high-quality protein, is gluten- free, and is a rich source of minerals. It is the only grain that contains vitamin C, which protects against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, eye diseases and skin wrinkling. Since grains like amaranth increase your metabolism, significantly reduce your appetite and help you feel full for longer, they can help with your weight management too.  

Try these great recipes that uses this not so humble grain.


3. Buckwheat

It is a pseudocereal like quinoa. It scores low on the glycemic index and helps keep blood sugar levels under check. It is the only grain with high levels of rutin—an antioxidant that improves circulation and prevents LDL, or bad cholesterol, from blocking blood vessels.

Load up on some healthy buckwheat with these versatile recipes of muffins, Japanese soba noodles and others.

4. Bulgur

A staple of Middle-Eastern cuisine, Bulgur has been traditionally used to make tabbouleh and pilafs. But its satisfying chewy, nutty taste and texture have made it popular in the US too. Low in fat, high in fiber and rich in minerals, bulgur is one healthy dietary choice can help lower incidences of heart disease, gallstone, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

Bulgur is really easy and quick to cook—about 10 minutes to boil and it’s ready to eat. Go for these flavorful recipes with bulgur.  

5. Millet

Millet is known for a host of health benefits. It’s a good source of vitamin B3 which aids quick metabolism, nervous system regulation and red blood cell production. It is also high in antioxidants and helps prevent degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Want to try a millet risotto or some millet croquettes? Explore these interesting recipes.
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