Health Benefits of Farro

Originally from Ancient Mesopotamia, farro is a term used to describe any one of three ancient wheat grains: einkorn, emmer, or spelt. However, in the United States and Europe, the term farro generally refers to emmer wheat. 

Although farro has been popular in other parts of the world — especially Italy — for a long time, farro is rising in popularity in the United States as a nutritious substitution for other common grains. It’s known for its unique, nutty flavor. It’s also packed with nutrients and provides more health benefits than many common grains. 

Health Benefits

Farro is a grain, and most people use it as a carbohydrate source in meals. But when compared to popular refined carbohydrates, farro’s health benefits make it a superior choice for healthy living. Here are just a few of the impressive health benefits of eating farro. 

Improve Digestive Health

Farro is an excellent source of fiber. Fiber, in turn, helps regulate the digestive system. So it’s no surprise that farro has been shown to improve digestion in humans. If you have constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, or other digestive disorders, you may especially benefit from adding farro to your diet. 

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Although no studies have specifically looked at farro and weight loss, there are a number of factors that suggest that farro could help you maintain a healthy weight. Specifically, farro is loaded with fiber and protein. Studies show that increasing fiber intake can help prevent obesity

Meanwhile, protein is associated with creating a feeling of fullness, which can help prevent overeating. And studies show that eating three servings of whole grains like farro per day is associated with a lower BMI in humans.

Nutrition

Not all grains are created equal. Farro, in particular, is loaded with nutrients, making it a good alternative to the “empty carbohydrates” that many diets warn against. In fact, it’s an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it a great option for vegetarians and vegans to add to their lifestyle. Farro is also an excellent source of:

  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber

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Nutrients per Serving

Per ¼ cup serving of farro, you’ll get:

  • Calories: 140
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 30 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sodium: 25 milligrams

Things to Watch Out For

Although farro is a relatively healthy grain, it’s important to remember that, like all grains, farro is relatively high in carbohydrates. Sticking to appropriate ¼ cup portion sizes of farro can prevent you from overindulging in carbohydrates for the day. 

Keep in mind that people with type 2 diabetes may see a reduction of symptoms on a low-carbohydrate diet. 

Despite being advertised on certain blogs as a low-gluten alternative to other grains, it’s also important to remember that there is no way to completely remove gluten from farro. As a result, it is not a safe food for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance

How to Prepare Farro

Farro is a unique grain with a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. Though it can be substituted for any other grain in popular family recipes, keep in mind that water doesn’t make it expand as much as some grains, like rice. 

Farro cooks best when you rinse it first in cold water. Then, cook farro the same way you would cook pasta: in a pot of boiling water. 

Some people choose to soak farro overnight, which can shorten the cooking time to 20-30 minutes. Otherwise, unsoaked farro takes 30-40 minutes to cook in boiling water. You can tell farro is done cooking when it’s chewy rather than crunchy. Drain the farro right away to keep it from continuing to steam. 

There are a number of delicious ways to enjoy farro. Some suggestions include: 

  • Fried like rice
  • Served with grilled fish on top
  • Tossed into salad
  • As the base of a burrito bowl
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Mayo Clinic: “Mayo Clinic Minute: Discover the Health Benefits of Farro.” 

Nutrition: “Dietary Fiber and Body Weight.” 

Nutrition & Metabolism: “The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

Public Health Nutrition: “Whole-grain intake as a marker of healthy body weight and adiposity.”

The British Journal of Nutrition: “Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health.” 

USDA: “Farro.” 

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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