If you are gluten intolerant or if you have celiac disease, chances are you cannot eat products made from wheat, barley, or other high-gluten grains. But, there may be a flour you can tolerate, made from a primitive grain known as einkorn. Einkorn is an ancient wheat that has not been hybridized. Thus it has higher nutritional content and lower gluten than modern wheat. Recently, this ancient grain has been rediscovered by consumers looking for better health.
Einkorn was the first domesticated wheat. Archaeologists discovered humans gathered wild einkorn during the Paleolithic Era in the Fertile Crescent. About 10,000 years ago, humans began to domesticate the einkorn wheat plants. Since that time, no one has hybridized it, thus making it a very ancient grain which is a good alternative to modern wheat.
Einkorn is easily digestible wheat due to its lower gluten. Some people who are gluten-intolerant can handle products made from einkorn wheat. It contains less gluten, and it is different than the gluten in modern wheat.
Many people find wheat products upset their stomachs and their overall digestive systems. It's little wonder: the average American eats about 55 pounds of wheat flour each year. Because einkorn has less gluten -- and the gluten it has is more digestible -- it causes fewer digestive problems than modern wheat.
Conventional wheat bread can make people gain weight because it is low in nutritional value and supplies empty calories. Einkorn bread and baked goods have more nutrition and leave you feeling more full. Because you feel full, you eat less and lose weight.
A study at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark showed that people who ate products made from ancient wheat, including einkorn, had lower levels of HDL cholesterol than those who ate products made from conventional wheat. Furthermore, eating einkorn and other ancient wheat varieties decreased glucose and fat metabolism cell production, delaying or even preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Einkorn flour is high in zinc and lutein -- two vitamins necessary for good vision. Lutein can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. If sprouted, einkorn flour contains even higher carotenoids than the usual, ground version and is high in beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids protect the eyes from damaging light rays.
Those who are allergic to wheat often find relief when they replace einkorn products with standard wheat products. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology compared three common allergens found in 324 varieties of wheat around the world, including einkorn. The researchers discovered einkorn has fewer allergens than other, more common, varieties.
Einkorn has not been modified through domestication. It has a smaller kernel and doesn't have a crease in the kernel the way that most modern wheat grains do. More modern types of wheat have been bred to increase the gluten and kernel size, as well as crop yields.
When compared to modern wheat, einkorn wheat has more protein. Einkorn has 18.20 grams of protein per 100 grams. Compare that to soft white wheat with 10.69 grams of protein per 100 grams. Even the hard red spring wheat has only 15.40 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Because einkorn wheat is still wheat, you can substitute it for conventional wheat in most recipes. The texture of the food will be a bit different because of the nature of the einkorn grain, but overall, you'll find it a pleasing substitute that offers an increase in healthy vitamins and minerals.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.