Ancient grains: what is special about them and why eat them

    Ancient grains: what is special about them and why eat them

    On the hills of upper Irpinia some local farmers have joined the "Grano Risciola" project, launched by a company in the country that produces special flours. The target? Grow with the techniques of the past and without chemical fertilizers Risciola seeds, a grain that has been forgotten for decades.

    E this is not an isolated case: from Senatore Cappelli to Saragolla, from Monococco to Gentil Rosso, from Tumminia to Verna in our country we are returning to sow many ancient and niche grains.

    There are also special from a nutritional point of view or is it just a trend? Let's clarify with the doctor Giorgio Donegani, food technologist in Milan.

    They are grown with fewer pesticides

    «By ancient grains we mean those cultivated varieties before the use of genetic mutations intensified to obtain plants from the ears with a higher yield. A process that more or less happened since the middle of the last century. In most cases the ancient grains are tall trees: the height makes them less vulnerable to attack by weeds; this is also why many manufacturers choose to do not use pesticides and this is already an advantage. Plus these grains, if they come stone ground in the traditional way, give rise to lightly sifted flours, with one higher amount of fiber, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and with a lower glycemic index than the common 00 ", explains the expert.

    In this case, therefore, even if they cost more, they are really worth buying.

    They contain a "better" gluten

    Some ancient grains contain less gluten: some varieties, such as Risciola, have about 7-9% of it compared to 11-17% of modern wheat but it is not a rule. Rather, it is the quality of the gluten that makes the difference: «Generally the grains of the past have lower amounts of a specific toxic peptide. However it is good to clarify that they are anyway contraindicated for celiacs»Says Donegani.

    They protect biodiversity

    The rediscovery of these beans is mainly due to small farms who courageously face the competition of the giants of food: "Buying them means contributing to their survival, protect the biodiversity of the area and recover the flavors of tradition. Finally, guaranteeing a product with a short supply chain also allows advantages in terms of sustainability», Concludes the technologist.

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