What are ancient grains?

Ancient grains are an incredible range of plant-based foods that have been serving civilizations for thousands of years. They are rich in essential nutrients, and unlike some of the more modern grains, ancient grains have not been created through genetic modification, making them a wonderous organic food source. These are the 7 best ancient grains to incorporate or use in everyday meals for a magnificent nutritional boost.

Best ancient grains.

Benefits of ancient grains

  • Magnificent nutrient profile containing a comprehensive range of essential nutrients
  • The best ancient grains will be Non- GMO
  • High in fiber making them fantastic for your digestive health
  • High in non-heme iron
  • Great source of plant based protein
  • Low on the glycemic index
  • Excellent alkaline food source

7 Best ancient grains to enhance a plant-based diet


Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:

Macronutrients: Fat 3.9g, Carbohydrates 46g, Protein 9.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 54.1mcg – 14%, Vitamin E 0.5mg – 3% DV
Minerals: Iron 5.2mg- 29% DV, Magnesium 159.9mg – 38% DV, Zinc 2.1mg – 19% DV

Health benefits and uses of amaranth

  • Amaranth is known as one of the best ancient grains and has been cultivated over thousands of years and has one of the most impressive nutrient profiles because of this. 
  • Amaranth is one of the best plant-based grain sources of iron, providing you with 29% of your recommended daily amount with just a one-cup serving.
  • It boasts a wide range of minerals and vitamins. It is also high in healthy plant-based protein making it great for vegan fitness enthusiasts. 
  • Studies have shown that due to the high antioxidant properties, amaranth is an excellent aid for protection against heart disease and may help to lower bad cholesterol.
  • Amaranth has a wide range of uses in a plant-based kitchen from porridge to health bars. Try out some of our favorite grain recipes to start increasing iron intake and to get the most from this tremendous ancient food.


Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.6g, Carbohydrates 50g, Protein 9.8g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 45.4mcg – 11%, Vitamin B1(thiamin) 0.5mg – 38% DV
Minerals: Iron 5.2mg- 29% DV, Magnesium 126mg – 30% DV, Zinc 2.8mg – 25% DV

Health benefits and uses of teff

  • Teff is another gluten-free ancient grain that is a good source of iron for vegans. Teff, similar to quinoa and wild rice, is not actually a grain but a seed.
  • Each cup of these nutritious seeds provides 29% of your daily iron needs, making it an excellent way to increase the amount of non heme iron you consume per day.
  • Teff is also high in fiber, providing 28% of your daily needs with every cup served, which helps to support optimal digestive health.
  • The comprehensive nutrient profile that teff contains and the gluten-free aspect of this tasty seed makes it one of the best plant foods for vegans to increase their iron absorption.
  • An excellent way to incorporate teff into a vegan diet is in a delicious yet easy to make teff porridge or in vegan pancakes and bread.


Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.4g, Carbohydrates 47.5g, Protein 9.8g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 18.9mcg – 5% DV, Vitamin E 0.4mg – 3% DV
Minerals: Zinc 3.2mg – 29% DV, Magnesium 82.6mg – 20%, Iron 3mg – 17% DV

Health benefits of kamut

  • Kamut (khorasan wheat) falls into the category of best ancient grains similar to amaranth. It is well known throughout many countries for its beneficial nutrients and works exceptionally as a plant-based source of zinc.
  • Each single cup of Kamut provides a wide range of essential nutrients to keep you running at optimal health
  • Kamut is high in selenium and manganese, which are antioxidants that help to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as reduce cell damage.
  • Kamut also provides a sufficient helping of iron and magnesium 2 of the most essential nutrients needed to master a plant-based diet.
  • Some of the best vegan uses of Kamut are in a vegan Mediterranean salad or as a side dish to go with a vegetable curry.


Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.6g, Carbohydrates 51.3g, Protein 10.7g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 25.2mcg – 6% DV, Vitamin E 0.5mg – 3% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.4mg – 22% DV, Magnesium 95.1mg – 23%, Iron 3.2mg – 18% DV

Health benefits and uses of spelt

  • Spelt, an ancient grain similar to wheat, that is highly nutritious and a magnificent vegan protein source.
  • Each cup of spelt provides 10.7 grams of protein, fulfilling 20% of your minimum protein requirements.
  • Studies have shown that grains like spelt are excellent for helping to prevent heart disease and are have also shown potential to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Spelt works wonders in a whole range of vegan recipes from plant-based mushroom risotto, to spelt salads, easily helping you get enough protein on a vegan or vegetarian plant-based diet.


Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.7g, Carbohydrates 41.2g, Protein 6.1g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 45.4mcg – 11%, Vitamin B1(thiamin) 0.5mg – 38% DV
Minerals: Iron 1.1mg – 6% DV, Magnesium 76.6mg – 18% DV, Zinc 1.6mg – 14% DV

Health benefits and uses of millet

  • Millet is a superb ancient grain originating from the continent of Africa that has been around for thousands of years. Unlike modern grains like oats, brown rice and wheat – millet is fundamentally a seed. 
  • With every cooked cup of millet, it provides 10% of your daily fiber needs helping you to maintain optimal digestive health. Millet is also a gluten-free ancient grain that has the benefit of causing less stress on the gut, making it perfect for those with sensitive stomachs or gluten intolerances.
  • Millet is high in magnesium, which has been linked to a reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. Milliet is also high in zinc, which is an essential nutrient needed for healthy immune functioning.
  • Some excellent ways to incorporate this ancient grain into a plant-based diet are as gluten-free millet fritters or in a tasty vegan Mediterranean salad.


Nutrition per 1 cup cooked:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.4g, Carbohydrates 33.8g, Protein 5.6g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 37.8mcg – 9%, Vitamin K 2.7mcg – 2% DV
Minerals: Iron 1.7mg – 10% DV, Magnesium 58.2mg – 14% DV, Zinc 1mg – 9% DV

Health benefits and uses of bulgur

  • Freekeh is an ancient grain, grown predominantly in North Africa and the middle east. Freekeh sits comfortably in the category of best ancient grains since it is jam-packed with beneficial minerals and vitamins.
  • Each cup of cooked freekeh able to boost your iron and magnesium content by 10-15% and your fiber by over 33% of your daily needs.
  • Freekeh is also high in nearly all B vitamins making freekeh practically a vitamin B superfood. B vitamins are necessary for optimal brain function, balanced energy levels, and healthy red blood cell growth, making freekeh an excellent ancient grain to help achieve optimal health.
  • Two great ways to incorporate freekeh into your diet is through a delicious vegan tabbouleh or in a vegan black bean salad.

Sorghum grain

Nutrition per 1/2cup uncooked:

Macronutrients: Fat 3.3g, Carbohydrates 69.2g, Protein 10.2g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 19.2mcg – 5%, Vitamin E 0.5mg – 3% DV
Minerals: Iron 3.2mg – 18% DV, Potassium 348.5mg – 7% DV, Magnesium 158.4mg – 38% DV

Health benefits and uses of sorghum

  • Sorghum is a gluten-free ancient grain grown with an excellent nutritional profile. This highly nutritious grain is predominantly found in Australia, Africa, and Asia, but is gaining further popularity in the west as people become aware of its versatile uses.
  • Sorghum is high in a wide range of essential nutrients, including b vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and protein, which are all vital to a healthy plant-based diet. 
  • Due to its gluten free nature, sorghum is an excellent grain to use for vegans and vegetarians with sensitive digestive systems or food intolerances. 
  • Studies have shown sorghum to be great for digestive health thanks to its high fiber content while also being an excellent source of iron providing 18% of your daily needs with just half a cup.
  • Some great ways to incorporate sorghum into a vegan diet are as a replacement for rice in vegan salads and stir fry dishes or gluten-free bread.

Feeling creative?

Why not try some of our fantastic vegan meals to eat alongside these ancient grains

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