By Vanessa Gillis
This itty-bitty grain looks like a pale poppy seed, has been used by Ethiopians since before it was cool, and is now being hailed as the new “superfood” in North America and Europe because of its amazing nutrition profile. It’s high in protein, iron, and calcium, among many other essential nutrients, while also being low in both sodium and fat. And, as an added bonus, this little grain cooks quickly and can be eaten as is, steamed, baked, or even boiled.
It’s easy to see why the Incas considered this powerful little seed the mother of all grains. Not only is it gluten-free and packed with tons of fibre, minerals, and protein, it also has a low glycemic index, which means it controls your appetite, regulates cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and can lower your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Just like teff, quinoa is also very versatile and is incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet.
Originally used by Aztecs and Mayans, chia seeds are low in calories and rich in omega-3 fatty acids (which offer oodles of health benefits), antioxidants, protein, and fibre. Unlike the other grains on this list, chia seeds are relatively tasteless, making it easy to incorporate them into smoothies, yogurts, and cereals, without altering the flavour or pumping up the calories.
This yummy grain has been found to lower blood pressure, stave off your appetite, and give you a healthy dose of both protein and fibre. Some studies have also shown that it could reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol.
Despite its unusual name, buckwheat is not actually wheat, but rather a “pseudo-cereal.” This powerful, gluten-free super grain can be used in a range of foods, from pancakes and waffles to honey and noodles. The proteins in buckwheat are high-quality, making it a great meat substitute for vegetarians. It also has very high levels of zinc, copper, and manganese, which are all essential minerals for a happy and healthy body. Studies also suggest that buckwheat may help in the treatment of hypertension, obesity, and constipation.