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whole grains

New Whole Grains on the Block

Did you know that people who regularly consume whole grains are less likely to be obese?

They also have lower cholesterol levels. And according to the Whole Grains Council, adding whole grains to your diet will reduce your risk of stroke by as much as 36 percent, cut your risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 30 percent, and lower your risk of heart disease by as much as 28 percent. Other benefits indicated by recent studies include a reduced risk of asthma and inflammatory diseases, healthier carotid arteries and a lower incidence of colorectal cancer.

That’s an impressive list of benefits—and you can get them from more than barley, bulgur, quinoa and oats. Consider the following new (and delicious) whole grains on the block.

Fonio

Fonio is a tiny variety of millet, a whole grain that has been around for thousands of years and is a staple in many diets around the world. It packs a ton of nutritional value including essential amino acids. One of these acids—methionine—helps the liver process fat. Another—cysteine—helps to remove toxins from the liver and brain. This whole grain is also high in magnesium, zinc and manganese.

Thanks to its nutty flavor and fine texture, fonio makes an excellent addition to salads, stews and porridges. Because it’s gluten-free, you can use fonio flour to bake bread for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or diabetes.

Freekeh

Freekeh is basically very young (or green) wheat. Roasted after harvest to impart a smoky flavor, this whole grain contains four times as much protein as brown rice plus a ton of fiber (twice as much as quinoa). It also contains resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that acts like a fiber and will keep you feeling fuller longer.

Low on the glycemic index, freekeh won’t cause spikes in blood sugar (making it a fantastic option for diabetics). Because its preparation is similar to rice, freekeh is popular in pilafs and risottos.

Kamut

Its full name is Kamut® Khorasan grain, and it’s an ancient variety of wheat. Rich and buttery tasting, whole grain Kamut contains 11 grams of protein per cup plus plenty of nutrients including selenium, zinc, phosphorus, thiamin and magnesium. Kamut is higher in antioxidants than regular wheat and has more fatty acids as well—making it a high-energy grain. In one recent study, subjects who suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) experienced significant symptom improvement after switching to a diet containing khorasan grain.

Lupin

A member of the legume family, the whole grain lupin is comprised of as much as 45 percent protein and 30 percent fiber. It contains little to no starch and is very low in fat. According to researchers in Australia (where most of the world’s lupin is grown), the gain is a natural weapon against cardiovascular disease, reducing the incidence of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin insensitivity. Related to peanuts, anyone with a nut allergy should exercise caution when trying lupin.

Teff

This tiny whole grain may be about the size of a poppy seed, but it packs a serious nutritional punch. For example, one cup of teff contains 12 percent of the RDA of calcium. It’s also high in vitamin C, a nutrient you usually don’t find in grains. Gluten-free, it is an excellent carbohydrate option for those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or diabetes. And like freekeh, it contains resistant starch that can help prevent colon cancer and keeps you feeling fuller longer.

With a sweet, molasses-like flavor, you can prepare teff as porridge, add it to baked goods, or prepare it like polenta. You’ll find it in your grocery store in red, brown or white, and it cooks in 12 to 20 minutes.

Leave a Comment: What’s your favorite whole grain, and how do you like to prepare them?

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