5 Surprising Health Benefits of Farro

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Farro is a type of ancient wheat grain that originated in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. It is popular among health-conscious individuals and vegans because it contains more protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and B vitamins than many other whole grains. It can be used as a substitute for any of your favorite carbs, and is a great addition to soups and salads. With so many health benefits, combined with its versatility as an ingredient in both savory and sweet recipes alike, farro should definitely be considered the next healthful addition to your diet!

What is Farro

What is Farro

Farro is a grain. Actually, it’s an ancient grain that is a collection of three grains; emmer wheat, einkorn, and spelt. The term farro can refer to any of these three grains.

Like may other grains, you will find farro in the store or online as a whole grain or pearled.

Farro is loaded with fiber, protein, and antioxidants, making it a great addition to any meal; especially a plant-based one!

Farro’s Nutrition Profile

Like all foods, farro’s nutrition facts can vary by brand, serving size, and whether it’s the whole grain or has been processed. Here’s the nutrition profile of Bob’s Red Mill’s Organic, Whole Farro

  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup (45g) dry
  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 33 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams

Farro is an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.

Health Benefits of Farro

If you’re looking for the health benefits of grains, look no further than farro. It’s an amazing complex carbohydrate that is packed with fiber to keep your digestive tract happy and healthy, boosts immunity, improves heart health, helps fill you up, and is loaded with micronutrients your body needs (and ones that you may not even know you’re low in!).

But, like other grains, many of these benefits depend on how processed the version you buy is. Whole grain foods are always more nutritious, filling, and vitamin and mineral-packed than their refined grains counterparts.

Here are a few of the health advantages of eating farro:

1. Farro Improves Immune Health, Heart Health, and is Great for Type 2 Diabetes

Farro is Heart Healthy

Farro is loaded with dietary fiber; especially soluble fiber. This makes it a great carb source in any diet! Soluble fiber binds with LDL cholesterol (the bad one) in your small intestine. Once it’s bound up, your body can get rid of it in your poop. This way you won’t absorb as much of it, helping lower your risk of heart disease.

Along with farro’s high fiber content you get resistant starch, which is an amazing food for your friendly gut bugs, oligosaccharides (if beans tend to cause you to be gassy, oligosaccharides are likely the reason. If that’s you, soaking beans and farro overnight will help.), and antioxidants.

The healthiest people on the planet make whole grains a regular part of their diet. And for good reason! Studies continually show that the more whole grains you eat, the more protection you have against chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

2. Farro Is High in B Vitamins

Farro is Loaded with B Vitamins

Farro is loaded with B vitamins. B vitamins are important for metabolic health and converting the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins we eat into energy. If you live a healthy lifestyle or are chasing fitness goals, this is key!

B vitamins are also important for brain health, maintaining high energy levels, neurotransmitter function, supporting the central nervous system, as wells a DNA synthesis and repair.

3. Farro Is Loaded With Antioxidants

Farro has Antioxidants

You’ve may know that fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants and that the darker the food the more antioxidants it has. Well, farro is going to turn that thinking upside down a bit! Unprocessed grains with their brans provide a special type of antioxidant called lignans. In fact, lignans are a major part of what makes flaxmeal such a powerful food!

Lignans have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, have anti-cancer properties, and even lower both total and LDL cholesterol! They also have neuroprotective abilities and can enhance cognitive function! I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion of superfoods, but lignans kind of fit the bill!

4. Farro Is a Good Source of Iron, Magnesium, and Zinc

Farro has iron, magnesium, and zinc

Iron, magnesium, and zinc are three nutrients that most people, regardless of age or gender, don’t get enough of. In fact, iron is one of the most common deficiencies in both men and women alike!

Iron helps with our immune system, supports brain health and memory function, and is important for energy levels. Those on a plant-based or vegan diet need to get adequate amounts of iron every day because plant iron (non-heme) is not stored as readily as iron from animal products.

Magnesium is another nutrient that many of us lack. Magnesium assists with nerve and muscle function, relaxes our blood vessels, and helps regulates our heart rate.

Finally, zinc is involved in wound healing, supports a healthy immune system, and helps your body break down carbohydrates and turn them into energy. It’s also crucial for brain function.

5. Farro Increases Satiety, Helping With Weight Loss

Farro Salad

Farro is loaded with fiber, supplying 5 grams per serving. Fiber helps us feel full longer, which can naturally help keep hunger and cravings at bay.

Farro is also high in protein. Protein helps you feel full and has the highest thermic effect of food. Your body uses more energy to break down proteins than carbohydrates or fats. If you’re trying to lose weight, the thermic effect of food is a very helpful thing indeed! Protein is also going to help you maintain muscle mass if you are on a weight loss journey.

Where Can You Buy Farro?

You should be able to find farro in your local grocery store. There are three varieties of farro (depending on how they’re processed), and which one you can find when shopping can vary.

Here are the three kinds of farro and how they differ nutritionally and for cook time.

Pearled farro. This is the kind you’ll find most of the time. Pearling involves polishing and refining the bran layer. Yes, it’s more processed than whole grain farro and has fewer nutrients. It’s often fortified to replace the nutrients that were lost through processing, though. You won’t need to worry about soaking this version. Just rinse cook! This version will also have the shortest cook time. Start checking on it around 20 minutes in.

Semi pearled farro. This is the rarest version in my experience. Usually, you’ll find pearled or whole. This version, however, is the best of both worlds. It has half of the grain intact. You still get most of the nutrients, but a shorter cook time than whole grain farro. No need to soak. I still start checking at around the 20-minute mark. On average, I find that it takes 35 minutes.

Wholegrain farro. This is the whole, unprocessed grain. This is the most nutritious of the three versions and has all the benefits we’ve been talking about. It also has the longest cooking time. If you soak overnight it will take 30 to 40 minutes to cook. Start checking at 30 minutes. If you don’t soak, plan on a 50 minute cook time.

How to Prepare Farro

Farro can be substituted for any other grain your family enjoys. But it has its own unique nutty flavor and chewy texture. It reminds me a bit of short grain brown rice.

I don’t cook it like rice, though. I cook it more like pasta. With most grains, I have an exact ratio of water to dry grain that I use. When the water is absorbed, the grain is done. For cooking farro, just boil a pot of water, toss in the grain, and cook until it’s tender! Here’s how:

Step 1: Rinse first. Rinse it through a fine-mesh sieve or colander with cold water.

Step 2: Add to boiling water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add your farro. Cook until the grains become tender and chewy, but not mushy. The cooking time for farro can vary quite a bit! Yet another reason it’s a bit different from other grains.

If you soak your farro overnight, which will reduce phytic acid but isn’t mandatory, your cook time will be between 20 and 30 minutes. Check at 20, and drain when the grain is al dente.

Unsoaked farro takes between 30 and 40 minutes to cook, depending on the variety you purchase (see Three Types of Farro above).

Once your farro is cooked, there are a number of ways to enjoy it.

Most of the time I make up Buddha Bowls. Add the farro to a bowl along with a plant-based protein (tofu, tempeh, black beans, and kidney beans are my favorite), and a ton of veggies. Go for color! Tomatoes, avocado, corn, and shredded carrots, and beets are fantastic. Finally, top with your favorite plant-based dressing and mix.

Some other suggestions I have are to make up fried rice, add it to a salad, or make homemade burritos. Yum!

Health Benefits of Farro Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about health benefits of farro. Farro is a kind of whole grain that has been around for centuries in the Mediterranean region, but it’s only recently become a popular grain in North America. It can be used as an alternative to rice or other grains in many recipes and dishes, with some interesting health benefits along the way! I think one of my favorite parts about cooking with farro is making up Buddha Bowls. These colorful combinations are great for healthy eating because they incorporate so much produce into each dish.

If you’re looking for more information on healthful living and how plant-based eating impacts your health, please visit my blog at https://www.herbivoremuscle.com/.

Enjoy eating farro? Throw your favorite recipes in the comments below to help our community out!

Other foods you’d like me to cover? Leave a comment and I’ll get right on it.

Until next time, stay fit.

Matt

Plant-Based, Plant Built

*Author's Note: The content on this website is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The content of our articles is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It's always best to speak with your doctor or a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, or exercise routine, or trying a new supplement.

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AUTHOR
Matt Walter, CHN, M.A.T
I studied Food Science and Human Nutrition at Washington State University and interned as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the WSU football team. I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and former personal trainer and competitive CrossFit athlete. My mission is to make embracing and adopting a healthy vegan lifestyle simple and fun!