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The Health Benefits of Ancient Grains


By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 26 June 2020

Although humans have been eating grains for years, the modern grains we consume are not the same as the ones consumed by our ancestors due to their modification or processing. Ancient grains are in fact something of a superfood due to their extensive health benefits, we’ve rounded-up the top five ancient grains that could be beneficial for your diet:


Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.  The seeds are rich in B vitamins, which help to promote better skin health and better hair.


Twice as high in fibre as wheat flour, rye is a recognised prebiotic which supports friendly probiotic bacteria in the gut. It’s also a source of iron and magnesium which can help fight tiredeness and fatigue, as well as zinc which can support a healthy immune system.  The high fibre content alsso aims to fight inflammation and contribute to lower levels of cholesterol.


Buckwheat probably isn’t a food you have on your shopping list all that often, as it is in fact a ‘pseudo-cereal’ super seed related to rhubarb. Nutritionist Cassandra Barns explains that buckwheat can help you manage your weight since “it has a low glycaemic load (GL), which means that the carbohydrates it contains break down and release slowly into your blood. This helps maintain a steady blood sugar level and avoid the ‘swings’ that can happen after eating higher-GL foods such as white bread, rice or corn. You’ll find it easier to manage your appetite and eliminate cravings for sugary foods”.


Farro, also called emmer, is considered to be one of the more “exotic” ancient grains along with sorghum and quinoa and has some amazing health benefits. It’s loaded with nutrients and vitamins including magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B3. It’s also low-fat, low calorie and full of antioxidants.


Amaranth comes from a herb and is jam-packed with calcium and is also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.  It’s naturally gluten free and has been linked to decreased heart disease.

For a quick hit of ancient grains on the go, try Nairn’s Rye & Quinoa Oatcakes (£1.39, Waitrose).