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Ancient Grains: A Real Advantage?

There is a trend in food marketing to promote ancient grains, and many manufacturers understand this. It is now possible to buy breads, cereals and cereal bars made with ancient grains since this trend has become more popular. Is this only a trend or can we introduce them in our facility and see our clients benefit from them, health-wise?

What are ancient grains?

This term implies those grains that have been harvested for thousands of years. Ancient grains include: 

  • Amaranth
  • Barley 
  • Buckwheat
  • Kamut
  • Spelt
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Quinoa

Below is a summary of each different type of grain and also the benefits they would bring to your clients. 

Amaranth is an herbaceous plant that produces edible grains. This cereal has a slightly spicy taste and is gluten free. Amaranth flour can be used to prepare cookies, pancakes or waffles. Amaranth's protein is more balanced than other cereals, meaning it is more complete. 

Barley is the very first cereal crop in the early days of agriculture. It is well known but somewhat neglected, with the exception of the very popular "barley soup". Yet it makes a delicious side dish! Barley is an excellent source of soluble fibre and overall a very good source of fibre. 

Buckwheat is a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb. The darker the buckwheat flour is, the more nutrients it contains. Buckwheat pancakes is a must and greatly appreciated by customers! Roasted buckwheat is an excellent source of iron. 

Kamut and spelt are two varieties of wheat cultivated since ancient times. Their nutritional value is similar to that of wheat. They make colorful and tasty breads that are very popular with customers. 

Millet is a grass-like plant in the same family as sorghum and teff. Those three grains are all gluten free andbarle have quite distinctive taste which not everyone will appreciate. Millet is a good source of magnesium and its protein is of better quality than that of wheat. 

Quinoa is a plant from South America and recently became very popular in Canada. Quinoa is also gluten free and can be used as a side dish or to prepare bread, muffins, and soups. Quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium, iron and potassium. It also contains more protein than most cereals. 

A dietitians view on ancient grains:

Despite the alleged novelty image that is communicated, we did not reinvent the wheel with ancient grains: they are in fact whole grains. They are obviously healthier than refined cereals; they contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals just as all whole grain cereals do. 

This is not the discovery of the century in the health and nutrition world, but the identification that grains deserve consideration and can help increase variety, colour and flavour. Futhermore, ancient grains will increase the fibre content of your meals! Be creative! Barley or quinoa can easily replace traditional white rice or mashed potatoes and add nutritional value.

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