shutterstock_80839456Numerous studies have shown that diets which include high amounts of whole grains can help improve overall health. Whole grains are a naturally good source of fiber, and some also contain large amounts of protein, vitamins and essential minerals.

Here are 5 great grains you may not have heard of:

Quinoa- A grain native to South America, quinoa was once called a “food of the Gods” as the Incans used it to increase strength and stamina of their warriors. This great grain has a nutty taste and is very healthful. Containing all nine essential amino acids, it’s also a perfect protein. Use this grain to top salads, or in place of rice with your favorite Asian dishes.

Farro- A grain that’s related to wheat, Farro is believed to be one of the oldest cultivated grains in the world. When cooked properly this grain is tender, and slightly chewy with a texture similar to puffed rice. A solid whole grain Farro is a great source of fiber, with about 5 grams per ¼ cup. Add farro to your favorite soups and stews.

Teff- A tiny grain that’s sometimes ground into flour, this grain is new to the United States. Native to Ethiopia, it has also been widely used in northeast African dishes for centuries. A good source of protein, iron and calcium this great grain has a mild nutty flavor, similar to hazelnut and a texture that’s soft and chewy. Works well as a base for meat or vegetarian dishes.

Kasha- Also known as buckwheat groats, this grain is native to Eastern Europe where it is eaten as a porridge. An excellent source of potassium, and fiber kasha has a slightly bitter flavor and readily soaks up flavors like garlic. Use this great grain in place of rice, to top salads or in soups, and stews.

 

Amaranth- A staple food of the Aztecs this grain is not really a grain at all, but rather the fruit of the amaranth plant. This tiny seed-like grain is high in protein and has a mild peppery flavor. Great for use in meat loaf, hamburgers, breads and biscuits.

Studies have shown that eating whole grains in place of refined grains may help lower the risk of a variety of chronic illnesses. Some studies have shown that even consuming only 1 serving a day can help reduce risks. Benefits include a reduce risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even aid in weight loss.

What’s your favorite grain? Do you have some great grain recipes, which are your favs? Leave us a comment below to share your secrets.

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