When you consider adding more healthy grains to your diet, your mind likely goes to staples like wheat or rice. Despite there being 19 different types of whole grains, most Americans only regularly eat just a few. If you’re looking to shake up your heart healthy grain eating routine, consider trying these four ancient grains for more variety and health benefits.
- Bulgur. This grain is actually just the remains of traditional whole-wheat grains that have been partially cooked through a steaming and drying process. Since it’s already partially cooked, bulgur makes a quick and easy nutritious addition to a meal. Health-wise, bulgur packs a big fiber punch—18 grams per serving—and is also low in sodium, which can help to prevent high blood pressure. If you’re trying to lose weight, bulgur is also low in fat and calories.
- Millet. Naturally gluten free, millet is also high in fiber and protein, making it a good option for vegetarians. For people with sensitivity to gluten and other grains, millet might be a great option—it’s an alkaline food, which means it’s more easily digestible for sensitive stomachs. Thanks to rich levels of magnesium and niacin, millet can also help lower your risk of heart attack and your blood pressure.
- Barley. Closely resembling rice in taste and texture, barley is known for helping lower cholesterol and promoting a healthy digestive track due to high levels of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. It is also associated with reduced coronary heart disease risks and is rich in potassium and calcium.
- Quinoa. Probably the most popular of the four, quinoa has become a bit of a health craze in the last year or two, and it’s easy to see why. Though it’s technically a seed and not a grain, quinoa is consider a “superfood” thanks to being packed with protein and all the essential amino acids, cholesterol free, and full of fiber and antioxidants.
What’s your favorite type of grain to cook with? Share your favorite heart healthy recipes in the comments section below.