What are ancient grains and are they healthy?

Ancient grains are grains that have been planted and harvested for thousands of years.  Some ancient grains are not grains, but actually grasses or seeds.

Some common ancient grains include:

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

Health benefits

Ancient grains in their “whole grain” form provide fibre, vitamins and minerals, and healthy fats. Research shows that people who eat more whole grains may have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Look for the words “whole grain” in the ingredient list (such as whole grain amaranth).

Some ancient grains have special health properties:

  • Barley contains soluble fibre that may lower cholesterol and blood glucose in healthy adults.
  • Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids making it a complete protein.

Are ancient grains gluten-free? 

Amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and teff are gluten-free. Read labels to make sure these grains are pure and not contaminated with wheat, barley, rye or other gluten-containing ingredients.

Here are some recipes to try: 

Yummy Quinoa Lunch
Vegetable Quinoa Salad
Sweet Quinoa 
Quinoa and lentil pilaf

If you have any questions about ancient grains, call EatRight Ontario to speak with a Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-5102 or send an email.

Last Update – October 9, 2016

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