• June 12, 2024 7 min read

    In recent years, there's been a significant shift toward more natural and traditional foods, and whole ancient grains are at the forefront of this movement. Unlike modern refined grains, ancient grains like Emmer Farro, Whole Einkorn Berries, and Spelt Farro have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. They offer a plethora of health benefits and add a unique flavor and texture to your meals. This article explores why incorporating these ancient grains into your diet can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

    What Are Whole Ancient Grains?

    buy healthy ancient grains

    Whole ancient grains are grains that have remained relatively unchanged over millennia. Unlike modern grains, which have been bred for higher yields and ease of processing, ancient grains retain their original nutritional profiles and unique flavors. They include grains such as Emmer Farro, Whole Einkorn Berries, and Spelt Farro.

    Benefits of Eating Whole Ancient Grains

    A Harvard study, discovered that individuals consuming four servings of whole grains daily (approximately 70 grams) experienced significant health benefits compared to those with minimal whole grain intake. Specifically, the study found a 22% reduction in the risk of death from any cause, a 23% lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, and a 20% decrease in the risk of dying from cancer. While the study does not definitively prove that whole grains prevent early death, it contributes to the growing body of evidence suggesting that whole grains are indeed beneficial for health. Because they are free of genetic modifications and have not been bread to increase yield at the expense of nutrient density, ancient grains are an even better source of nutrition than other whole grain. Switching to whole ancient grains provides numerous health benefits, including:
    • Rich in Nutrients: These grains are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are often stripped away in refined grains.
    • High Fiber Content: Whole ancient grains are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which aids digestion and promotes gut health.
    • Lower Glycemic Index: They have a lower glycemic index compared to refined grains, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
    • Gluten Sensitivity Friendly: Some ancient grains contain different forms of gluten that are easier to digest for those with gluten sensitivities.  Sorghum is a naturally gluten free ancient grain.

    Emmer Farro

    organic emmer farro

    Nutritional Profile

    Emmer Farro, one of the oldest cultivated grains, is rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and iron.

    Health Benefits

    • Bone Health: Emmer Farro is a good source of magnesium, which is crucial for bone health.
    • Weight Management: The high protein and fiber content help in managing weight by promoting satiety.
    • Blood Sugar Control: Its low glycemic index helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, making it suitable for people with diabetes.

    Culinary Uses

    Emmer Farro can be used in soups, salads, and risottos. Its nutty flavor and chewy texture make it a versatile ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes.

    Whole Grain Einkorn Berries

    Nutritional Profile

    Whole Einkorn Berries are ancient grains known for their high levels of protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. They are also rich in vitamins B and E.

    Health Benefits

    • Antioxidant-Rich: Einkorn Berries contain high levels of antioxidants, which help protect the body against oxidative stress.
    • Digestive Aid: The grain's high fiber content aids digestion and supports a healthy gut microbiome.
    • Improved Vision: The vitamin E content in Einkorn Berries contributes to better eye health.

    Culinary Uses

    Whole Einkorn Berries can be used in a variety of recipes, including pilafs, salads, and baked goods. Their slightly sweet flavor and chewy texture make them a favorite in many kitchens.

    Spelt Farro

    Nutritional Profile

    whole grain salad with lemons

    Spelt Farro is a whole grain packed with nutrients such as fiber, protein, iron, and magnesium. It is also a good source of niacin (vitamin B3).

    Health Benefits

    • Cardiovascular Health: The fiber and niacin in Spelt Farro help reduce cholesterol levels and support heart health.
    • Muscle Function: The magnesium content is essential for muscle function and energy production.
    • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The antioxidants in Spelt Farro help reduce inflammation in the body.

    Culinary Uses

    Spelt Farro is versatile and can be used in soups, stews, salads, and as a side dish. Its slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture make it a delightful addition to many recipes. 

    Seashore Black Rye

    seashore black rye

    Although not strictly speaking an ancient grain, Seashore Black Rye is a landrace grain that is so important it has earned a place in the Slow Food Ark Of Taste. It was popular in the United States in the early 1800s but was overtaken by more modernized, higher yielding grains by the early 1900s. Now only a handful of farms plant this delicious and unique grain.

    Nutritional Profile

    Cracked Seashore Black Rye is a nutrient-dense grain that offers a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is particularly high in iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.

    Health Benefits

    • Heart Health: The high fiber content in Black Rye helps reduce cholesterol levels, promoting cardiovascular health.
    • Digestive Health: The grain's robust fiber profile aids in digestion and prevents constipation.
    • Sustained Energy: Its low glycemic index ensures a slow release of energy, keeping you fuller for longer and preventing energy crashes.

    Culinary Uses

    Cracked Seashore Black Rye can be used in various dishes, from hearty breads and crackers to porridge and salads. Its distinctive flavor adds a depth of taste to any recipe.

    tibetan purple barley bowl
    Heirloom Tibetan Purple Barley

    Nutritional Profile

    Heirloom Tibetan Purple Barley is a vibrant, nutrient-dense grain that boasts high levels of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. It is also rich in essential minerals like iron and zinc.

    Health Benefits

    • Antioxidant Powerhouse: The deep purple color indicates a high anthocyanin content, which has potent antioxidant properties.
    • Digestive Health: Its high fiber content supports digestive health and regularity.
    • Immune Support: The vitamins and minerals in Purple Barley enhance immune function.

    Culinary Uses

    Heirloom Tibetan Purple Barley can be used in a variety of dishes, from colorful salads to hearty soups and stews. Its unique color and nutty flavor make it an attractive and tasty addition to meals.


    organic white sorghum

    This gluten free grain is a versatile alternative to other whole grains with a dense chewy texture similar to wheat berries and a delicious nutty taste. It can be popped like popcorn or used in everything from risotto to pilaf. Soghum is popular in Asian and African cuisine but it's just starting to catch on in the US. This earth friendly crop doesn't require as much water as other grains but delivers on nutritional density with high fiber, protein, Vitamin B and Magnesium  and Iron. 

    Nutritional Profile

    Sorghum is a gluten-free grain that is rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like iron, phosphorus, and B vitamins. 

    Health Benefits

    • Gluten-Free: Sorghum is an excellent option for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.
    • Heart Health: The fiber in sorghum helps lower cholesterol levels and supports heart health.
    • Energy Boost: Sorghum provides a steady release of energy, making it ideal for maintaining energy levels throughout the day.

    Culinary Uses

    Sorghum can be used in a variety of ways, including as a base for grain bowls, in salads, or as a gluten-free flour alternative in baking. Its mild flavor and versatility make it a staple in many cuisines.

    How to Incorporate Whole Ancient Grains into Your Diet

    Breakfast Ideas

    Start your day with a nutritious breakfast by incorporating ancient grains into your meals. Try making a hearty porridge with Cracked Seashore Black Rye or adding Whole Einkorn Berries to your morning smoothie.

    Lunch and Dinner Options

    For lunch or dinner, use Emmer Farro or Spelt Farro as a base for salads or grain bowls. These grains also make excellent additions to soups and stews, providing a satisfying and nutritious boost.

    Deserts with Ancient Grains

    With the addition of some fruit, yogurt and healthy sweeteners like honey or sorghum syrup, ancient grains can become a healthy indulgence at the end of a meal.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What makes ancient grains different from modern grains? Ancient grains have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years, retaining their original nutritional profiles and flavors. Modern grains, on the other hand, have been selectively bred for higher yields and ease of processing, often losing some nutritional value in the process.

    Are ancient grains suitable for people with gluten sensitivities? Sorghum is a gluten free ancient grain. Some ancient grains contain different forms of gluten that are easier to digest for those with gluten sensitivities. However, individuals with celiac disease should consult their healthcare provider before consuming any grains containing gluten.

    How do I store whole ancient grains to keep them fresh? Store whole ancient grains in airtight containers in a cool dry place or the refrigerator. Cracked or milled grains should always be stored in the refrigerator. This helps maintain their freshness and prevents them from becoming rancid.

    Can ancient grains help with weight management? Yes, the high fiber and protein content in ancient grains can help with weight management by promoting satiety and reducing overall calorie intake.

    What are some easy recipes to try with ancient grains? Simple recipes include using Emmer Farro or Spelt Farro in grain bowls, adding Whole Einkorn Berries to salads, and making porridge with Cracked Seashore Black Rye. These grains can also be used in baking for added nutrition.

    Why should I choose whole ancient grains over refined grains? Whole ancient grains are more nutritious than refined grains as they retain their bran, germ, and endosperm, which are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Refined grains often lose these nutrients during processing.


    Incorporating whole ancient grains like Cracked Seashore Black Rye, Emmer Farro, Whole Einkorn Berries, Spelt Farro, Heirloom Tibetan Purple Barley, and Sorghum into your diet can offer a multitude of health benefits. These grains are rich in essential nutrients, promote digestive health, and help maintain stable blood sugar levels. By making the switch to ancient grains, you not only enhance your nutritional intake but also contribute to a more sustainable and wholesome diet. Start experimenting with these ancient grains today and experience the positive impact on your health and well-being.