Ancient Grains in Pet Food: What’s All The Buzz About?

Ancient Grains are also known as super-grains or heritage grains, and they’ve been enjoying a boom in popularity in human health foods recently.

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. Super-grains are often classified as seeds or pseudo-grains and include millet, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, teff and chia seeds. They contain little or no gluten, and also possess powerful health promoting properties.

Five nutritional benefits of ancient grains:
1. They have naturally high fiber and a rich protein content, which means they’re packed with life-sustaining amino acids.

2. Some ancient grains contain phenols, which act as natural antioxidants plus other functional compounds like lignans and omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.

3. They’re a good choice for diabetic pets, because they help to maintain steady blood sugar levels.

4. Ancient grains contain a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and copper.

5. They can be soothing to the digestive system. Some ancient grains act as prebiotics.


Why are they called ‘ancient’?
They’re called ‘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.

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.

They also taste delicious!
Most ancient grains have a wholesome, slightly nutty, earthy flavor that’s naturally hearty and satisfying. You can find ancient grains in some of our dog food recipes, like the Limited Ingredient Chicken Recipe, which contains quinoa!

Meet the Author: Lucy Postins

Lucy Postins is founder and Chief Integrity Officer at The Honest Kitchen. She is a companion animal nutritionist who started The Honest Kitchen in her kitchen in 2002. She is passionate about advanced nutrition and holistic health including complementary modalities such as herbalism and homeopathy. Considered an expert in her field, Lucy frequently writes articles for local and national media, conducts radio interviews and educational spots, and occasionally holds educational seminars for pet owners on the importance of good nutrition. She also recently authored Dog Obsessed, a guide to a happier, healthier life for the pup you love.

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