September is Whole Grains Month, which is a great reminder for us all that dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that we make at least half of our grains – 3-5 servings – whole.
So what are whole grains and why exactly are they better for us? Well, all grains are actually whole – to begin with. A whole grain includes the entire seed of a plant, which is made up of three key edible parts – the bran, the germ and the endosperm. These three components contain Vitamin B, protein, antioxidants, fiber, minerals and healthy fats.
However, refined grains don’t include the bran and germ, meaning about 25 percent of the grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. Processors add back some vitamins and minerals to enrich refined grains, but whole grains are healthier for you.
But wait! There’s more. Even healthier for you than whole grains are ancient grains. Unlike modern grains, ancient grains have survived intact for centuries and have more vitamins, minerals, fiber and proteins than modern grains, as well as a more distinctive and flavorful taste. Ancient grains include KAMUT® khorasan wheat, einkorn, emmer/farro and spelt. Other ancient grains include sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa and amaranth.
In addition to their nutritional benefits, it’s also been proven that some ancient grains improve a person’s health. In fact, KAMUT® wheat in particular has been found to reduce inflammation and improve conditions of those suffering from irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and heart disease. A study recently published in the journal Nutrients revealed that a KAMUT® khorasan wheat-based replacement diet actually improves the risk profile of patients with acute coronary syndrome, and a previous study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a KAMUT® khorasan wheat-based replacement diet could potentially reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in healthy people. And a third study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed significant reduction in symptoms associated with IBS.
Due to their rise in popularity and demand, ancient grains are now more accessible than ever before, especially as well known brands, such as Kashi® and Kellogg’s, have started to incorporate them into their products. In August 2015, Kashi® released its Organic Promise® Cocoa Coconut with KAMUT® Khorasan Wheat Granola, which pairs ancient grains with superfoods, including oats and coconut. This granola is part of a line of five all organic and Non-GMO Project Verified granola products that Kashi® recently released, created with blends of whole grains, sprouted grain, nuts and seeds, to allow people to enjoy simply delicious foods in unexpected ways. In July 2015, Kellogg Company introduced more than 40 new products across its U.S. lineup with a wave of foods that fit the latest trends in nutrition, taste and convenience. Among these new products is Kellogg’s Origins™ Ancient Grains Blend cereal, which combines nutritional value with delicious taste. The cereal is made with crunchy flakes of wheat, brown rice and barley, KAMUT® khorasan wheat puffs, spelt and quinoa.
While ancient grains, like KAMUT® wheat, which is organic and non-GMO, are already included in many products on the market, they can also be easily swapped with regular wheat to make your favorite recipes more delicious and nutritious.
Ancient grains are so good for you that TIME magazine named KAMUT® wheat as one of the top 50 healthiest foods of all time. So, if you haven’t already jumped on the whole grains/ancient grains bandwagon, now is the time to make the switch! Your health, and taste buds, will thank you.
Happy Whole Grains Month!