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Freekeh: A New Superfood That Can Be Compared To Quinoa

Freekeh: A New Superfood That Can Be Compared To Quinoa

Quinoa is renowned as a Superfood, or a nutrient-rich food especially beneficial for health and well-being, not only for the health benefits, but for it’s versatility. But is another Superfood waiting in the wings to take the spotlight?

As it turns out, yes. Freekeh is steadily gaining popularity, and for good reason. Before we go deeper let’s look at what freekeh is actually first.

Freekeh (pronounced free-kah) is the result of wheat harvested while young and green. It’s roasted over an open fire and the straw and husks of seeds are burned and rubbed off. The grain on the inside is too wet to burn, so you’re left with a firm, mildly chewy grain with an earthy, smoky flavor[1].

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The Great Debate: Freekeh VS Quinoa

Why eat Freekeh? Why eat Quinoa? Should you favor one over the other? Each is packed full of of nutritional goodness, but how do they compare to each other?

Quinoa is a gluten free grain, making it a great choice for the many people who suffer from gluten allergies. Freekeh is not gluten free, as it is a type of wheat. It makes up for the gluten when it comes to protein and fiber content, since Freekeh has nearly double the amount of fiber and protein that quinoa does. This may result in weight loss for those adding it to a healthy lifestyle. For those living with diabetes, Freekeh is also the better option – it ranks at a low 43 on the glycemic index, whereas quinoa is higher at 54.

Let’s break down the additional nutritional components of Freekeh and Quinoa in the table below, using 100 grams of each as the serving size:

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Freekeh[2]

  • 353 calories
  • 60.8 grams carbohydrates
  • 14.9 grams protein
  • 2 grams fat
  • 12.9 grams fiber
  • 31 milligrams zinc (207 percent DV)
  • 32 milligrams iron (178 percent DV)
  • 3.4 milligrams copper (170 percent DV)
  • 370 milligrams calcium (37 percent DV)
  • 110 milligrams magnesium (28 percent DV)

Quinoa[3]

  • 120 calories
  • 21.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 4.4 grams protein
  • 1.9 grams fat
  • 2.8 grams fiber
  • 1.09 milligrams zinc (10 percent DV)
  • 1.49 milligrams iron (19 percent DV)
  • 0.19 milligrams copper (21 percent DV)
  • 17 milligrams calcium (2 percent DV)
  • 64 milligrams magnesium

Freekeh-Out: Numerous Health Benefits of Freekeh

Freekeh is truly worthy of being called a Superfood, even if all you know about it is its nutritional value. But it isn’t just good for getting in your vitamins — Freekeh also carries amazing digestive benefits.

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  1. Because of its fiber content, it can ease a number of common digestive complaints including diarrhea and constipation. This is huge, especially considering the number of people affected by digestive issues in the U.S. alone in 2010 was 70 million people[4].
  2. The fiber content in Freekeh can also aid weight control management, since it helps avoid snacking between meals due to feeling fuller longer. It contains three times as much fiber as brown rice, so there’s a good chance your stomach won’t be grumbling hours before your next meal!
  3. Along with fiber, Freekeh also contains loads of antioxidants which can positively impact eye health. This is thanks to the antioxidants called zeaxanthin and lutein. These are known to prevent macular degeneration which typically occurs as we age.
  4. Freekeh even aids muscular growth and endurance, thanks to an amino acid called glutamic acid. This is popular with bodybuilders and athletes, as it assists with improving strength and endurance, naturally.
  5. And as mentioned earlier, the wholegrain variety of Freekeh ranks low on the glycemic index, making it ideal for anyone trying to maintain their blood sugar levels. Even if you aren’t diabetic, healthy blood sugar levels are important, as out of control levels can lead to heart, kidney, eye and nerve damage[5].

While it sounds too good to be true, Freekeh really is as great as it seems, and easily attainable! Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s sell Freekeh, and Whole Foods’ website even offers a few recipes. But if you’re like me and prefer doing as much of your shopping online as possible, Amazon is also a great resource to purchase a variety of Freekeh, some options even offering bulk quantities.

I’ve bought it, now what?

Aside from gluten and calories (which do not impact everyone the same way depending on lifestyle and allergies), Freekeh offers much more than Quinoa. But what does it taste like? Sure, it’s kind of smokey and earthy, but that probably rules out adding cinnamon and milk and making it a breakfast. Nope! As it turns out, it’s incredibly versatile.

Freekeh can be added in place of your usual grain (such as quinoa) for an easy side dish, or even a salad topper. It’s easy enough to cook, only requiring about 20 minutes in a sauce pan on the stove. However, if you love meal prepping and skipping the process of cooking as you go, Freekeh can be soaked in water overnight in the fridge and simply headed when you’re ready to enjoy it[6]. It’s also delicious as a savory salad, mixed with chickpeas and herbs such as parsley, mint and garlic.

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And as it turns out, Freekeh can be eaten for breakfast! Adding Freekeh and coconut milk, honey, cinnamon, a little sea salt, fruits and nuts creates a delicious, sweet breakfast bowl which can be enjoyed hot or cold. It can even be used in stews, yogurt dishes, puddings and even cakes[7].

Staying Super

Though the list of Superfoods can often seem intimidating, with the many options available for preparing said foods, it’s easier than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying meals. For instance, if you simply add strawberries and cherries to the breakfast Freekeh mentioned earlier, you’re fueling your body with three Superfoods first thing in the morning. And if you add Kale and Spinach to the Freekeh salad idea, you’ve just added two Superfoods without any effort. Don’t be afraid to change your routine and substitute certain Superfoods, like Quinoa, with Freekeh. You may find recipes you can’t live without!

Reference

More by this author

Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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