What Are Ancient Grains?

Ancient grains are grains that have been around for millennia; they have existed and grown in their current form almost since time began, so they are proven, stable and healthy for humans to eat.  While some ancient grains may be household names, familiar to everyone, others are almost unknown to Western cultures.  Ancient grains include quinoa, sorghum, amaranth, teff, spelt, Kamut and even unadulterated (therefore rare) wheat.

In gluten-free diets, the most common substitute for gluten containing wheat flour is rice flour.  Unfortunately, rice flour does not provide a grain taste or texture and doesn’t bake to a consistency that lends itself to crispiness.

The Smart Flour blend doesn’t use rice but the following three naturally gluten-free grains instead:

Sorghum

  • First collected in Egypt 8,000 years ago
  • Contains more antioxidants than blueberries or pomegranates(2)
  • The wax surrounding the sorghum grain contains compounds called policosanols, which can have a positive impact on cardiac health

Amaranth

  • Made up as much as 80% of the diet of Aztecs(1)
  • Called a “protein powerhouse” by the Whole Grains Council
  • Rich in the amino acid L-Lysine, known for its anti-inflammatory properties
  • A complete protein
  • Cholesterol-lowering properties
    • Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada found that amaranth can be a rich dietary source of phytosterols, which can reduce cholesterol

Teff

  • Ethiopian grain
  • Very high in calcium, in fact Ethiopians get a significant portion of their calcium from teff
  • Also high in protein, fiber, iron and calcium
  • Higher in L-Lysine than barley
  • Good for blood sugar management

We use these ancient grains, not only because of their exceptional nutritional value, but also because, when combined, they produce a consistency similar to wheat flour, so our gluten-free baked goods have a taste and texture like traditional flour.

(1)    Coe, S.D. (1994). America’s First Cuisines. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292711594.

(2)   McAlpin (2010).  Study finds that sorghum bran has more antioxidants than blueberries, pomegranates.  University of Georgia.