Four years ago, on the Dr. Oz show, Quinoa was introduced to American audiences and can now be found in supermarkets everywhere. Dr. Oz invited Heidi Skolnik, Nutritionist MS., to introduce more super grains to his viewers. Grains have always a staple, but in America, this has been mostly wheat. There are other options, and you don’t have to have a gluten-allergy to give them a try. These super grains are eaten all over the world, and are packed with nutrients, good fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and are normally higher in protein. They all have their own nutrient benefits, and since we need six servings of grains a day, a variety of them can benefit our bodies.
Teff grains are so tiny (smaller than poppy seeds) that factories are unable to refine them, and this is a good thing. Teff tastes like flax seed, and is a little sweeter and milder than wheat. It is 40% resistant starch, which means it keeps us feeling full and satisfied for longer. As opposed to “carbage”, which gets soaked up quickly and spikes our blood sugar, the starches in Teff aren’t digested quickly and so do not cause rebound hunger. Teff has lots of calcium, which is good for bones, PMS management, and blood pressure. A quarter-cup serving contains 160 calories.
Millet is very versatile and can be used in lots of different types of cooking. The texture is more coarse, like a grit, but can be made to be creamy. It is high in magnesium and Vitamin B. Magnesium can relax muscles and reduce migraine pain. Boiled and then blended in a food processor, millet can replace mashed potatoes. Make sure to buy hulled millet, not pearled.
Kamut is a high-energy wheat with 40% more protein than normal wheat. Half a cup of Kumat has the protein of a whole egg, and is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Three women were asked to swap Kumat for their normal carbs, and they found that they stayed full for longer, had more energy, and didn’t crash. Omega-3 is good for our brain health, as a source of Vitamin E (for our immune systems), and reduces inflammation.
Buckwheat is earthy, grainy, and nutty. It is not actually a wheat, but has similar properties. It helps with circulation and lowers the bad cholesterol in our bodies, as well as helping with varicose veins. The kasha variety can be used as a rice replacement.
When shopping for whole grains, try to avoid being fooled by marketing traps. Bran, for instance, is not a whole grain. Like wheat germ, it is only part of a whole grain, so is missing essential ingredients. Also, more grains are not always better, it’s the type of grain that matters. Buy whole grain bread that either has the “100% Whole Grain” stamp on it, or lists the first ingredient as “100% Whole Grain”. Lastly, fiber bars are not whole grain, fiber is just part of a whole grain.