You're probably aware that consuming grains can provide a ton of health benefits. In addition to providing positive effects for supporting your cardiovascular system, whole grains can help improve your digestion and supply a variety of vitamins and minerals to boost other aspects of your overall health. In addition to quinoa and other popular super grains, there are many others that can provide you with a great deal of nutrients. Here are a few to check out:
Nutritional Benefits: A relative of rhubarb, buckwheat is not exactly a wheat or grain but reflects a nutritional content similar to them. Buckwheat is packed with flavonoids, including rutin, which can provide benefits for reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and encouraging improved blood flow and circulation. Buckwheat is also rich with magnesium and fiber, which are necessary for keeping your digestion and body in general functioning properly.
How to Use It: Buckwheat can be used as an alternative to rice and wheat, and it's gluten-free so it's safe for those with celiac disease. Heidi Skolnik, MS. CN, FACSM recommends incorporating buckwheat into your diet as a pilaf. She says to boil toasted buckwheat with water or broth for around ten minutes. After letting it stand for five minutes, add onions or some of your favorite vegetables and sauté together.
Nutritional Benefits: As a green wheat, freekeh tastes similar to bulgur wheat. It's packed with protein, fiber and minerals, and because it's green—signifying the wheat is young at harvest—it contains more nutrients than other grains. Freekeh also contains prebiotic properties that can help encourage healthy bacteria growth in your digestive tract for overall improved digestion. Iron, calcium and zinc are several other nutrients that are found in freekeh, and they can promote healthy cells, bones and immunity along with providing other health benefits.
How to Use It: Freekeh cooks quickly, can be used as a substitute for rice and pasta and is great to enjoy any time of day. For a delicious and healthy breakfast meal, try cooking cracked freekeh for 15-20 minutes in water until the grains are soft. Drain, then pour into a dish. Add chopped apples, raspberries or other fresh fruits. Sprinkle cinnamon on top, add some almond milk and enjoy.
Nutritional Benefits: Millet is a tiny grain that is popular in many places around the world, and certain types of it are used in bird food. However, millet can provide many nutrients for humans and it is very versatile when it comes to the variety of ways you can consume it. With nutrients like B vitamins, copper, phosphorous, magnesium and fiber—among others—millet may be able to contribute to boosting heart health, lowering cholesterol and protecting against certain degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. Certain types of millet also exhibit antioxidant properties, which can protect from oxidative stress and free radical damage.
How to Use It: Pearl millet is a common type that can be used in cereal, snacks, breads, mashed potatoes, fluffy rice and more. To make a millet salad, try toasting the grains in a pot and then cooking in water until the water is absorbed. Remove the millet and let cool, and then add salt, cilantro, jalapeño, tomato and avocado. Chill the mixture and then enjoy as a delicious side dish packed with nutrients and flavor.
While they may seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of foods, super grains pack a powerful punch in terms of all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients they contain, which can provide many health-enhancing properties. Try some of these new and delicious super grains that can help you to live a healthier, more nourished life.
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