The humble grain or seed is often dismissed as being bird food or tasteless but many of them are actually highly nutritious. I agree, on their own they might be tasteless pap but they are usually good flavour carriers so with the right recipe and mix of ingredients you can end up something that is not only healthy but appealing to eat. Some of them are classed as superfoods - here are some of the best.
They aren’t just for porridge. Oatmeal contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and is a good source of protein, carbohydrates and iron. The fibre content is soluble – the best kind – and oats are thought to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes. Recently, it is claimed the constituents of oats help inhibit the formation of cancer cells.
Pronounced keen-wah, this has been eaten by man since pre-historic times and is now making a comeback. It’s a seed that has a cream fluffy texture when cooked. Quinoa is a protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is good source of magnesium which will be of interest to migraine sufferers.
3. Bulgur Wheat
A high fibre low fat cereal food usually made from durum wheat. It swells on contact with any liquid meaning it can be prepared with cold water – so no cooking! It contains more fibre and protein than white rice and has a nice nutty taste. It is rich in iron and Potassium. Try a tabbouleh; they are really tasty and packed with good things.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of phosphorus, magnesium and manganese and also a good source of other minerals including zinc, iron and copper. They are also a protein and rich in vitamin K. They actually pack quite a nutritional wallop so just a small handful in a salad or as a snack is beneficial. They are thought to be good for healthy bones, particularly in men, prostrate health and consequently reduce the risk of or alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.
5. Flax Seeds
These aren’t the most palatable of seeds but it is worth grinding them up to use as a seasoning on salads or cereals or to throw in to muffins, casseroles, stews or even homemade burgers and fish cakes. They are a terrific source of Omega 3 fatty acids. They also contain a high quality protein, are rich in soluble fibre and contain a whole slew of other nutrients including Vitamins B, C and E, iron and zinc. They are also fabulously wealthy in lignin which is the focus of some intensive and encouraging cancer research, particularly breast and colon.
6. Pearl Barley
Also known as polished barley, it’s a very good source of fiber and selenium. It also serves as a good source of the minerals phosphorus, copper and manganese. Selenium is important to our bodies because it works with enzymes and also helps stimulate antibody production. It is also an anti-oxidant which helps fight those nasty free radicals that cause all sorts of problems.
7. Wild Rice
Not really a rice but the seeds of an aquatic grass that’s not really that nice on it’s own but mixed with white or brown rice is perfectly edible and lends a different texture to any dish. It is also better than both brown and white rice because it is higher in protein and has fewer calories. It is low in fat and sodium but is a good source of potassium, phosphorus, thiamine and riboflavin. It is also high in fibre and even more importantly folic acid which as we know is especially important during pregnancy.
I hope this has introduced some new thoughts about grains and seeds to you and that you start adding these into your diet because I’m sure you’ll experience the benefits. Eating foods that are naturally good for you are much better than fad foods that promise much and deliver nothing.
Have I missed any?
Top Photo Credit: sweetbeetandgreenbean