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Amaranth, Buckwheat, Millet and Quinoa – these are listed in the ingredients of an Ancient Grain Mix vacuum sealed bag that I read in a health store. They are also labeled ‘Wheat and Gluten Free’. Yes, all of these fabulous four are (verified!).  
Ancient Grains - Amaranth, Buckwheat, Millet and Quinoa
Well, if one googles for ‘What are Ancient Grains?”, no one can tell exactly what they are. More than the four above, apparently ancient grain is also the name given to Kamut, Spelt, Einkorn, Triticale, Emmer and Teff. Phew! But Kamut and Spelt are NOT gluten free. Why these are classified as Ancient Grains and why not wheat, rice or corn? Were they largely consumed during the cradle of civilization’s era? The answer is “I don’t know. I will tell you after my back-to-past ride :D”.

The term ‘ancient’ was referred owing to the grain’s evolution process. Unlike rice, wheat or corn, these so-called ancient grains evolve or change not much compare their original predecessors that lived thousand years ago.

Well, let’s talk a bit about nutritional value of the first four ancient grains - Amaranth, Buckwheat, Millet and Quinoa since I am feeding them to my tot. Technically speaking, Amaranth, Buckwheat and Quinoa are not grasses thus not grains.

Amaranth seed that is more correctly to be called pseudo-grain, is high in good quality protein(15-18%) and Lysine (an essential amino acid that the human body cannot synthesize it) that is low in other grains. The cooked amaranth or staple food of the Aztecs also contains calcium, iron and potassium. Good source of fiber, cooked amaranth provides less carbohydrate but higher phosphorus, magnesium, vitB6 and water content compares to bread/wheat gem.

Classified as pseudo-cereal, Quinoa is called the ‘Mother of all grains’ by the Incas. Appreciated for high protein content (12-18%), quinoa provides a balanced composition of essential amino acids for human, as well as a good source for dietary fiber. It also contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

Buckwheat? Not related to wheat at all despite its last name. A pseudo-cereal by classification, buckwheat is high in fiber and contains Iron, Niacin, Folate and Vitamin K.

The one and only grain amongst the four here, Millet is the least allergenic and easily digestible. My mom called it the ‘bird seeds’ – yes it is (the unhulled version) but do not purchase it from pet stores for your baby! Rich in B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, millet is also a good protein source (11%).

The world recently is debating on the return of these ancient grains. Are these ancient grains truly wonderful as per claimed or merely healthy food trend in the commercial world? I am momma, I introduced to my tot the first four ancient grains for the sake of getting him to experience a variety of grains. I believe every grain does have its wonder, and that’s the reason they survive on our planet.

We are the smart consumers, we decide if we want them to be on the food aisle in the next decade!

Related:
Recipe for Ancient Grain Mix Porridge.


 

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