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What is farro? Learn about this grain and its nutritional benefits

Farro is an ancient grain that was originally grown in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Nowadays it is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.

Farro is actually the collective term for three different types of wheat. All are high in fiber, protein, and other important nutrients. In the United States, emmer wheat is the most popular type of farro.

This article explains what Farro is, how people can use it, and the health benefits it offers.

Farro is an ancient grain that dates back many millennia. The term “Farro” is actually a collective term that refers to three different types of wheat:

  • small spelled (einkorn)
  • farro medio (emmer)
  • farro grande (spelled)

Farro has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, which makes it great for:

  • Risotto
  • pasta
  • Casseroles
  • Stews
  • Salads
  • some desserts

Farro does not produce high yields at harvest time. As a result, farmers have largely replaced Farro with other types of wheat, such as durum wheat. However, many people are now looking for sustainable whole foods to add to their diet. As a result, old grains like Farro are becoming popular again.

Each of the three types of wheat has different nutritional values, tastes and textures.

Farro is also processed in three different ways, resulting in either whole grain, semi-pearl, or pearl farro. These different processing methods change both the taste and the required cooking time of Farro.

full grain

Whole grain farro consists of all parts of the grain in its entirety. This type of farro has the most flavor and nutrients, but takes the longest time to cook. A person may need to soak the grain in water overnight before cooking it.

Semipearled

Semipearled Farro is Farro that has had some of its hard outer layers or “bran” removed. Removing some of this bran will speed up the cooking time. However, the remaining grain provides less fiber and a little less flavor.

Mother of pearl

Pearled Farro is Farro with all of the bran removed. Although this type of farro is very quick to cook, the fiber content is reduced even further.

Farro is mostly made up of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.

According to a 2017 study of the nutritional values ​​of old grains, the nutritional compositions of the three different species of Farro are as follows:

Minerals

The same 2017 study also provides the following information on the mineral content of the three different Farro species:

(Note: The abbreviation “NR” refers to “not reported”.)

Antioxidant properties

According to an older study from 2008, emmer wheat has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body’s cells from damage.

Importantly, the 2008 study found that emmer’s antioxidant benefits decreased significantly during processing and cooking.

Farro is a nutritious cereal that contains a number of important macronutrients and minerals.

Farro is a good source of plant-based protein, which makes it particularly useful for people on a vegan or vegetarian diet. People who follow such diets can also benefit from the high iron content of this grain.

Farro can also be beneficial for people following a low glycemic index (GI) diet. Such diets are useful for people who want to control their blood sugar levels. The 2008 study found that farro wheat pasta had a lower GI than durum wheat.

Low GI foods also make a person feel full longer. As such, Farro can be of benefit to those looking to maintain their satiety while dieting.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), white rice is less nutritious than whole grain emmer farro (WGEF). The following table provides a head-to-head comparison of the nutritional content of each grain in grams (g) or milligrams (mg).

The method of cooking farro depends on the type of farro a person chooses.

Whole grain farro needs to be soaked overnight before cooking.

Semipearled and Pearl Perro do not need to be soaked overnight. However, soaking in cold water for 30 minutes just before cooking can help reduce cooking time.

Once soaked, a person should boil the farro with one part farro to two parts water. Let the farro simmer until the desired texture is achieved.

Farro contains gluten, which means it is not suitable for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. People with both health conditions should opt for healthy, gluten-free grains, such as:

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that encourages the body to burn fats instead of carbohydrates. A person following the keto diet will significantly reduce their carbohydrate intake and replace them with healthy fats, such as those found in the following foods:

A 2020 review states that a person following the keto diet should only eat up to 20-50g of carbohydrates per day. According to USDA figures, 1/4 cup Emmer Farro contains 34 grams of carbohydrates. Because Farro is high in carbohydrates, it is not suitable for people following a keto diet.

A person can buy Farro from supermarkets and health food stores in the United States. You can also buy Farro online.

Here are some ideas for healthy Farro meals and their ingredients:

  • Grilled salmon with farro and warm chard salad: Farro with salmon fillets, herbs, chard, vegetables and feta cheese.
  • Apple Farro Salad with Chicken: Farro with grilled chicken, apples, cucumber and herbs.
  • Italian bean farro soup: Carrots, celery, tomatoes, farro, cannellini beans, parmesan and herbs.

Farro is an ancient grain that was originally grown in the Middle East. Nowadays it is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.

The term “farro” refers to three different types of wheat: einkorn, emmer and spelled. All types are high in fiber, protein, and other important nutrients. Whole grain farro contains more nutrients than semi-pearly and pearly varieties.

Farro is not suitable for people who follow the keto diet. However, it can be beneficial for people following a low GI diet. Farro is also a good source of iron and vegetable protein for people on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

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