More and more people are seeking alternatives to wheat and refined grains. Gluten, the protein in wheat, triggers an inflammatory reaction in the body and messes up the digestive system. Things are even worse for those with celiac disease or wheat allergy. Breakfast cereals aren't better either. Packed with sugar and artificial flavors, they may contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Considering these facts, it's no wonder why ancient grains are growing in popularity. Quinoa, amaranth, farro, spelt, and other cereals boast a high nutritional value and can be used in a multitude of recipes. Some are varieties of wheat but contain less gluten. Unlike corn and other modern grains, their makeup has remained relatively unchanged over the years. Let's take a closer look at the healthiest ancient grains and their surprising benefits: Farro
Archeologists have found this grain in the tombs of Egyptian royalty. One cup delivers over 14 grams of protein and 24 percent of the daily recommended intake of fiber. Compared to wheat, farro is higher in zinc, vitamin B3, magnesium, and protein. Thousands of years ago, it was a staple of Roman legions. It can be consumed raw, added to salads and soups, or used in baked goods. Just make sure you avoid "pearled" varieties because the bran has been removed. Amaranth
This ancient grain is particularly high in lysine and calcium, and provides all nine essential amino acids. It was widely used in Aztec religious ceremonies, offering both flavor and nutrition. One serving provides about 16 percent of the daily recommended allowance of calcium and 42 percent of the recommended intake of iron. Amaranth must be cooked before consumption because the raw grain can not be digested and blocks the absorption of dietary nutrients. Since it's gluten free, it can be safely consumed by people with celiac disease. Spelt
With its nutty flavor, spelt can add flavor to your favorite meals and prevent nutrient deficiencies. Even though it contains gluten, it's easier to digest than wheat and provides more fiber. Spelt is an excellent source of niacin, magnesium, copper, protein, and vitamin A, and be used as an alternative to oats. Millet
Rich in prebiotics, fiber, and complex carbs, millet balances gut flora and restores the body's pH levels. This ancient grain is alkaline and feeds the healthy gut bacteria, leading to improved digestion. It also increases serotonin levels in the brain, which helps lift your mood. Studies indicate that millet consumption may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve hepatic antioxidant parameters, and prevent heart disease. Sorghum
Sorghum is a staple of the Asian and West African cuisines. Loaded with protein, fiber, and B-complex vitamins, it supports brain function and cardiovascular health. Its nutritional value is similar to that of oats. This grain is gluten-free and has a chewy texture. It can be popped and eaten like popcorn, cooked into porridge, or added to soups, pasta, salads, and stews. This list wouldn't be complete without quinoa, teff, kamut, buckwheat, bulgur, and wheat berries. High in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3, ancient grains are worth keeping at the top of your shopping list. When consumed regularly, they may improve your health and protect against colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses associated with the modern diet.