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         Whole grains, often referred to as cereals, are members of the grass (Gramineae) family of plants and produce a dry, edible, one-seeded fruit, or caryopsis, which is commonly referred to as a kernel, grain, or berry. There are eight grains from cereal grass: wheat, corn, rice, oats, rye, barley, millet, and sorghum. Spelt and kamut, which are gaining popularity today, are types of wheat considered to be ancient wheats.4

Amaranth, quinoa, flaxseed, and buckwheat are technically not grains because they come from broad leaf plants, not grasses. They are often referred to as pseudograins or false grains.4

Whole grains are composed of three layers: the germ, endosperm, and bran. The germ, or embryo, is the small innermost part that contains vitamins E and K, essential oils, minerals, and protein. The endosperm is the center starchy part, representing roughly 80% of the kernel. The bran layer is the outer covering that consists of fiber, protein, B-complex vitamins, and minerals. Although all grains contain these three layers, the composition and nutrient value vary.6 Grains can be divided into different categories or groups (see Table 1).

Why Ancient and Alternative Grains?
A simple reason for the resurgence of ancient and alternative grains is “because we can.” Humans seek variety in their diets. Modern transportation and communications have made foreign foods familiar and available. But there are other, more substantive reasons, including the following:

• Taste: Ancient grains have a distinctive taste and are more flavorful than modern whole grains. Unlike modern grains, ancient grains have survived intact for centuries and remained virtually untouched by modern plant science. To increase crop yields, decrease vulnerability to disease and pests, improve tolerance for storage and handling, and accommodate processing, modern grains have been carefully bred or hybridized and may even be genetically engineered. As a result, modern grains may be less flavorful, though taste is subjective.

• Nutrition: Grains are unique because they contain all the major nutrient groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Ancient grains are often a richer source of nutrients than modern grains because a lack of breeding has left their nutrition profile intact. For example, quinoa has been called the “super grain” because researchers have found that it can contain up to 50% more protein than common grains and higher levels of fat, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and B vitamins.10-12

• Health Benefits: People have known about the benefits of whole grains for centuries. Hippocrates said in 400 BC, to the human body, it makes a great difference whether the bread is made of fine flour or coarse, whether of wheat, with the bran, or without the bran.

Whole grains are considered functional foods because of the many health benefits they offer, including protection from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.8-10 Whole grains are unique in that they are naturally low in fat, cholesterol-free, 10% to 15% protein, and a good source of dietary fiber, resistant starch, oligosaccharides, trace minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, numerous phytochemicals, and phytoestrogens.8-10

Ancient and alternative grains offer unique health benefits and are ideal for people with food allergies or intolerances. Ancient grains are also a welcome alternative for people with celiac disease and/or who are allergic to wheat and other gluten-containing grains. Celiac disease involves an inability to break down gluten. The presence of gluten in the digestive tract of a person with celiac disease triggers devastating symptoms—ranging from severe cramping to chronic fatigue and even organ disorders.13 In addition, many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cannot tolerate gluten and rely on alternative grains as their dietary staples. The number of children with ASD is now estimated at one in 150. A growing number of people are eliminating wheat from their diet in hopes of reducing their frequent headaches, lethargy, and diarrhea, which they attribute to wheat sensitivity or allergy.1,11,12

More information on the above  article  can be read by clicking Ancient and Alternative Grains By Carol Ann Brannon, MS, RD, LD.











Amaranth Chaulai


Pearl millet

Pennisetum-typhoidcum - Graminae

Pennisetum americanum








Banyard Echinochloa colona Kudiraivalli Kuthira-valli Jhangora


Hordeum vulgare - Graminae



Barley, Jau





Buckwheat Fagopyrum Tataricum Papparai Kaspat or Oggal or kotu kuttu, koottu


Panicum sarmenntosum or sumstrense  - Shama Millet








Corn Zea-mays - Graminae

Makka solam

makka cholam







Avena Sativa

oats oats
Proso Millet Panicum miiiaceaum (HOG MILLET) PANIVARAGU CHENA


Elucine coracana - Graminae

Ragi Panja-pullu, pullu, Ragi MANDIKA


Oryza sativa  - Graminae

Arisi Ari

Rough Chaff or Prickly Chaff

Achyranthus aspera - Amrantaceae

nayuruvi van-kadaladi




Sanwa/ Japanese Millet









Teff Eragrostis tef








Thena-Italian (fox) Millet

Steria-Italica - Graminae








Varagu - Fox tail
Australia Ditch Millet, Hureek
Kodo Millet
Paspalum scrobiculatum



 Khododhan, Kodoadhan  (Bengali)_






Triticum-sativum - Graminae








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