When you are looking for ways to improve your health, enhance the glow of your skin, and keep your body looking its best, consider incorporating superfoods – like grains and seeds – into your diet. Some of them may be unfamiliar despite the fact that they have been enjoyed for centuries in other cultures. All in all, the superior nutritional value of these whole grains and nutritious seeds puts them at the top of the list for dietary changes that can make a major impact on your health and wellness. While there are many superfoods to choose from, these five are easy to work into existing meals and provide outstanding nutritional value.
This African grain is the main ingredient in Ethiopian flatbread. Teff provides a spongy texture and molasses-like sweetness and it is naturally gluten-free. It can be used as an alternative for oatmeal or rolled into energy bars, cookies, or even in savory meals or as a coating for lean proteins. A good source of vitamin C, each cup of raw teff also contains more than 347 mg of calcium and 14.7 milligrams of iron. Its highly resistant starch composition helps regulate blood sugar levels which is key to weight control.
Grown in Peru’s Andes Mountains, this nutrient-packed bran is a seed that can be cooked and used like a grain. Kaniwa is very versatile with a mild, nutty and slightly sweet taste, similar to quinoa. It can be added to fruit dishes, in a smoothie or enjoyed with yogurt, or even ground for use in breads and pastries. Serve it as a pilaf or add it to salads, stir-fries, burgers, and stews. Adding Kaniwa to your recipe will boost protein, minerals, and antioxidants in your diet.
Another African staple, sorghum is a cereal grain that been used in Egypt for thousands of years. Naturally gluten free, it is digested slowly, contributing to excellent blood sugar regulation and staving off hunger. Sorghum can be used in salads, smoothies or popped like popcorn. 1 cup of raw sorghum contains 365 milligrams of magnesium and it is high in antioxidants which have been shown to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and some neurological diseases.
A truly ancient ingredient, Amaranth is a seed that can be traced back more than 8,000 to Pre-Columbian Aztec civilization. Amaranth has a malty, slightly sweet taste with nutty undertones. Packed with nutrients, one cup of raw amaranth contains 28.1 grams of protein and 298 milligrams of calcium. In addition, Amaranth contains the amino acids lysine and methionine. It is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, and vitamin C.
A favorite Mexican treat, Alegría, is made by popping Amaranth like popcorn and mixing it with honey, molasses or chocolate. It is also an exceptional thickener for sauces, soups and stews.
The natural pigment of black rice comes from its unique antioxidant properties that provide protection against heart disease, cancer, obesity and have been linked to improvements in memory. Black rice also has potent anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of protein, iron and fiber. It’s complex flavor, described as nutty with a hint of fruit, works well as a tasty side dish, or served as hot cereal with coconut milk, fruit and nuts. It can even be added to a garden salad, meatloaf, or chili.
While you are looking for ways to incorporate these nutrient packed grains, be aware that they vary greatly in their water absorption rates and starch or gum properties. For best results, look for a recipe that calls for your grain of choice and tailor the recipe to your taste once you become familiar with the flavor.
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