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Food Highlight: Ancient Grains

Food Highlight: Ancient Grains

The title of “ancient grains” is creeping its way into the grocery store and on food packages lately. You may have seen it on a box of cereal, but not known what it is or whether ancient grains can benefit those who have had a gastric bypass, lap band, or gastric sleeve. Let’s take a closer look into ancient grains.

First, there is no comprehensive list of ancient grains, and some are not even grains. But as the title seems to elude, ancient grains are those that have been harvested for centuries. These include amaranth, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, kamut, millet, spelt, teff, and quinoa (with quinoa and amaranth not technically being grains or grasses). Ancient grains are seen as the opposite of modern day wheat. While wheat is typically eaten highly processed, these ancient grains are most often eaten in a relatively unprocessed form


Ancient grains seem to be a poster child for many recent food trends including whole grain, non-GMO, gluten free, natural, organic, high fiber, high protein, and vegan trends. Not all ancient grains fit into each category, however as a group they are taking the carbohydrate world by storm, largely because some are accepted into popular diets that otherwise condemn many types of carbohydrates.

Ancient grains are touted to be packed with whole grains, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. When eaten whole, ancient grains can be rich in fiber and whole grains, as well as a variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals. However, when ancient grains are in prepared in commercial products, such as breads, chips, or cereals, it is important to read ingredient lists and look at nutrition labels. The amount of ancient grains, whether they are whole or ground into flour, and if any additional sugars are added can impact the nutritional benefits of the product.

Adding amaranth, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, kamut, millet, spelt, teff, and quinoa to your diet may help add variety, flavor, and enhance the nutritional quality of your diet. By substituting an ancient grain for an otherwise more refined carbohydrate, such as white bread or white rice, you can enhance your diet quality and possibly improve your cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, heart health, and bowel regime. But, as with any food, do your research and read labels, especially if you have dietary restrictions or special dietary needs.

This food highlight is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in adjustable lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass surgeries. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric weight loss practice is located in Boca Raton, Florida and serves patients from all over South Florida including Coral Springs, Delray Beach, Miami, Wellington, Naples, and Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric patients often ask about healthy foods to include in their post bariatric surgery diets.