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Ancient Grains - The Breakdown

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I was at the grocery store the other day and I saw a cereal box labeled, “Ancient Grains”. Curious, I checked the ingredients and saw names such as amaranth and barley. Looking around, I noticed that many other boxes sported some of the same labels.

This got me thinking:  what exactly are these “ancient” grains?

According to the Whole Grains Council, ancient grains, also known as Heirloom Grains, can be roughly classified as grains that are, for the most part, unchanged for many years. They are mostly kept as whole grains, which provide the ever popular Whole Grain label. Also, many are actually gluten-free. This counts as a huge plus for those with Celiacs Disease.

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Technically, “grains” such as amaranth and quinoa are classified as pseudo grains due to having a different biological makeup than cereal grains, but contain the same properties and can be used similarly, states the Wheat Foods Council. Sorghum, Millet, and Teff are the only ancient cereal grains without gluten that are actually considered “grains”.

Chia seeds also tend to be bunched in with the rest of the “ancients” as it was used by the Aztecs and Mayans. However, since Chia is a seed, as its name states, it’s not a grain. They still sport some great health benefits.

Ancient Grains Containing Gluten

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  • Spelt
  • Eincorn
  • Emmer/Farro
  • Barley
  • Kamut® Khorasan

Gluten-Free Ancient Grains

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum
  • Teff

Heirloom Grains are also classified as Super Grains due to their health benefits. They are high in fiber, a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Each can be milled to provide flours for any bakery application you can dream of.

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