Grains for Good Health

Being someone who has had to steer clear from wheat for almost over 10 years now I have found many alternatives to keep my diet interesting.  Rice and corn can get a little dull so it is good to add some variety to the grains family.  Here are a few that have some great benefits and I love to use.


Barley is a cereal grain often used as an alternative to wheat.  It does contain gluten like proteins and is thus not conducive to the gluten free diet.  However it is tolerable for many who are unable to digest wheat.

In the early 90s’ CSIRO assessed a variety of new non-GM barley grains for their potential health beneficial properties such as a high content of resistant starch and other dietary fibre components.  A new type of barley grain emerged now known as BARLEYmax.  BARLEYmax is high in all three types of fiber (Soluble Fibre, Insoluble Fibre and Resistant starch)  important for digestive health. When added to food as a key ingredient the GI of that food was low and the texture of the food improved.  BarleyMAX has a pleasant nutty flavor that distinguishes it from other barley grains.

Thus far I have only tried BarleyMAX inside cereal and have found the flavour and texture extremely palatable and a great replacement from my regular oats.

Quinoa (pronounced kinwa)

Originating in South America, Quinoa has been around in our diets of over 3000 years.  Referred to by the early Incas as “chisaya mama” or “mother of all grains” it does well to live up to its name.  With a high protein content (12-10%), Quinoa also boasts a balanced make up of essential amino acids which sets it aside from other grains and makes it a rare plant source of complete protein,  this is great news for vegetarians.  In addition, it is also a good source of dietary fibre, phosphorous and high in magnesium and iron. Unlike Barley, quinoa is gluten free and easy to digest so a great option for those with an intolerance to other grains.

Quinoa is an ideal alternative to throw into salads and stir-frys for a grainy protein boost.

Black Rice

Did you know that rice can be found everywhere except Antarctica?

I thought that I would take a rarer type of rice to right about than your more common, jasmine or brown variety.  Black Rice is also known as “forbidden rice” as in China it was once the Emperors rice with anyone else being forbidden to eat it.  Black Rice is a nutty kind of rice that is high in iron and fibre.  Consumption of black rice has been linked to a decreased risk in heart disease and cancer as well as having a lowering effect on high blood pressure.  Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti oxidant properties this type of rice may be beneficial in assisting to prevent diseases such as arthritis and alzheimers disease.

Mix black rice with your brown or white rice to add texture to you food.

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