If you’re looking for information about the healthiest grains, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we discuss what makes a grain a grain and give you insight into some of the most common varieties you’ll find on your supermarket shelf.
We’ll also reveal the quickest, easiest, and best way to include all the healthiest grains in your diet.
Finally, we’ll let you in on how you can be a part of The Soulfull Project’s unique community efforts to supply servings of our hot cereal to food banks in your area.
What Are Grains
To put it as simply as possible, grains — sometimes referred to as cereals or cereal grains — are edible seeds.
Within the grain category, there are a number of common (and not-so-common) options. Scientists and nutritionists divide those options into two categories: true grains and pseudograins.
True grains come from the Poaceae botanical family and are some of the oldest cultivated foods on the planet.
True grains include familiar staples such as:
True grains also include more modern wheat variations, like:
- Triticale (a mix of wheat and rye)
Pseudograins are seeds from other plant species (not in the Poaceae botanical family) that are nutritionally similar to true grains and used in much the same way.
The Healthiest Grains To Eat Anytime
Humans have been eating oats for more than 10,000 years! That makes oats one of the oldest cultivated grains on the planet.
There’s a reason oats have been around for so long: they’re one of the healthiest grains you can eat.
Modern oat producers seldom remove the bran and the germ from the grain itself, making oats a true whole grain.
Nutritionally speaking, oats include both the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and the micronutrients (beta-glucan, avenanthramides, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus just to name a few) that contribute to good health.
In fact, recent studies show that beta-glucan may decrease cholesterol levels and improve insulin response after a meal, while avenanthramides may help protect blood vessels from the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol.
That’s a powerfully healthy combination in a small and delicious package.
Chia seeds have been an important food for many Central American cultures for thousands of years. Despite that long history, scientists have only recently recognized the nutritional benefits that chia provides.
Chia seeds are incredibly small compared to corn, oat, and wheat kernels, but they pack a healthy punch (which puts them toward the top of any healthiest grains list).
Two tablespoons of chia contain:
- 4 grams of protein
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
- 10 grams of fiber
- 9 grams of healthy fat
Chia also contains other essential micronutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and manganese (just to name a few).
Flaxseed has been cultivated as a food crop since the third millennium B.C.E. (some 5,000 years ago).
Flax holds its own on this list of healthy grains thanks to high levels of:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Research indicates that flaxseed may even help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer as well as lung disease and cardiovascular disease.
We’re especially fond of flaxseed because you can mix it with water to make a flax egg — a vegan alternative to the chicken eggs that are a staple in many recipes.
Rice takes the prize for the grain that is eaten the most. This is thanks, in large part, to the fact that three of the most populated regions in the world — Indonesia, China, and India — rely on rice as their staple food.
There are many different types of rice (40,000 to be exact), but the most popular varieties include:
Though rice is primarily a carbohydrate, it does contain healthy doses of protein, vitamins, and fiber.
Rye is — and has been for centuries — the main bread-making grain in Northern Europe and Russia thanks to its ability to grow well in colder, harsher climates.
Compared to wheat and wheat flour, rye contains less gluten. As a result, breads made from rye tend to be denser than those made with wheat.
Interestingly, high levels of fiber in the plant itself mean that rye has a lower glycemic index than other similar grains (meaning it doesn’t spike your blood sugar after you eat it).
Where the healthiest grains are concerned, rye is right up there.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is very much like chia in that it’s a pseudograin that is not related to wheat, oats, or rice.
Quinoa was originally cultivated by the Inca in the Andes of South America before being transplanted to and grown in similar environments around the world.
One of the most unique things about quinoa is that, compared to other grains, it contains very high levels of protein and provides all the essential amino acids (including lysine) that your body needs to function properly.
Barley was probably domesticated around the same time as wheat, but, because it has a lower gluten content than wheat, it fell out of favor in many parts of the world.
While it’s true that barley-based breads won’t rise as much as wheat-based breads (for example), barely is still incredibly popular for one specific reason: it’s used to make beer.
That, however, doesn’t mean that no one eats barley anymore. In areas where wheat is hard to grow — such as North Africa and Tibet — barley is still a big part of the daily diet.
If you’re looking for the crop that is the most widely cultivated, wheat has all the other grains beat because it’s used in so many other products.
Wheat is a low-fat food and contains a wide variety of micronutrients, including:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
One of the main drawbacks of wheat is that it contains high levels of gluten when compared to many of the other grains on this list.
Gluten can cause stomach and other health issues in those whose bodies cannot break down the protein during digestion.
So, while wheat is, indeed, a healthy grain, it might not be right for everyone.
All The Healthiest Grains In One Place
If you’re looking for all the healthiest grains in an easy-to-eat option, The Soulfull Project’s hot cereal is the way to go.
No matter which delicious flavor you choose, you’ll get hearty grains and healthy ingredients, including:
Or, if you want something a little crunchier in your life, try our three delicious flavors of crispy granola:
Either way, you get a tasty and vitamin-packed treat that does your body good.
If that weren’t incentive enough, you’ll also be helping out those in need in your community. For every serving you purchase, The Soulfull Project will donate a serving of our hot cereal to a food bank in your area.
We’re making a better world, one serving at a time. You can help!
To get more information on the serving-for-serving program and check out all of our delicious oatmeal and hot cereal flavors, visit TheSoulfullProject.com today.