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Smart Grain Picks

December 24, 2012

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Don’t confine yourself to oats or brown rice. You can select plenty of other whole grains with serious nutritional pedigree. Look for these healthful overachievers at health-food stores or well-stocked bulk shops.

Muscle-builder: Quinoa Flakes


This South American grain offers a smorgasbord of nutrients, including magnesium, folate, iron and essential amino acids. Quinoa is definitely a muscle-maker. Quinoa flakes are made by passing the grains through a roller to flatten them. Try them instead of oatmeal for breakfast.

Powerhouse Grain: Millet


Not just for the birds, millet provides a diverse array of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium. People who consumed the most magnesium were found by Portuguese scientists to have increased muscular strength. Mildly flavored and inexpensive, millet is believed to be one of the easiest grains to digest.

Superior Recovery: Black Rice


Scientists at Cornell University (NY) recently reported Chinese black rice — also called forbidden rice — is endowed with a variety of antioxidants, including the same anthocyanins found in blueberries. Such antioxidants are believed to help muscles mend after a stiff workout.

Fat-stripper: Spelt


A relative of wheat, spelt has a great chewy texture. This ancient whole grain is a fiber powerhouse, providing about 8 grams per cup (cooked volume). Bodybuilders often struggle to eat enough dietary fiber. This can be a problem since fiber helps prevent rapid rises in blood sugar, which may lead to cravings for junk food.

Testosterone Booster: Teff


Originating from Ethiopia, teff is the world’s smallest whole grain. The nutty-tasting, nutrient-packed germ is nonetheless a nutritional heavyweight with impressive amounts of fiber, magnesium, energy-boosting iron, and zinc. Zinc is vital for the production of testosterone, the body’s most important anabolic hormone. Teff can be cooked into a breakfast porridge that is similar in consistency to Cream of Wheat.