Ancient grains like millet, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, teff and chia seeds are also known as super-grains or heritage grains, and they’ve experienced a boost in popularity in human health foods. Just like many other human food trends that make their way into the pet industry, we have started to see more of these ingredients being used in recipes for our furry friends.
While many grains like wheat and rice aren’t ideal for many pets, some animals can actually benefit from consuming healthy whole grains (especially if they’re free of gluten) and need these foods to help maintain healthy skin, coat and body weight.
Our friends at The Honest Kitchen shared five nutritional benefits of ancient grains:
- They have naturally high fiber and a rich protein content, which means they’re packed with life-sustaining amino acids.
- Some ancient grains contain phenols, which act as natural antioxidants plus other functional compounds like lignans and omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.
- They’re a good choice for diabetic pets, because they help to maintain steady blood sugar levels.
- Ancient grains contain a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and copper.
- They can be soothing to the digestive system. Some ancient grains act as prebiotics.
Why are they called ‘ancient’?
These grains are ‘ancient’ because, similar to other heritage crops like heirloom tomatoes, they’ve remained unchanged for thousands of years and are untouched by modern plant science, hybridization or modern monoculture – perfect for those who choose to eat consciously. According to The Honest Kitchen, they more closely resemble the types of seeds and grasses that our dogs’ ancestors may have grazed on in the wild. For similar reasons, super grains are also popular components in trending human Paleolithic or ‘paleo’ diets. Ancient grains help to connect consumers with the sources of their food from distant lands including Bolivia, Africa and The Balkans and ancient civilizations including the Mayans, Aztecs and ancient Romans.
Check out recipes from The Honest Kitchen with ancient grains and other products from Pet Food Experts with these tiny, nutrition-packed ingredients!