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In search of wheat: Emmer

Posted Jun 23 2010 7:52am
While einkorn is a 14-chromosome ancient wheat (containing the so-called "A" genome), emmer is a 28-chromosome wheat (containing the "A" and "B" genomes, the "B" likely contributed by goat grass 9000 years ago).

Both einkorn and emmer originally grew wild in the Fertile Crescent, allowing Neolithic Natufians to harvest the wild grasses with stone sickles and grind the seeds into porridge.

Having tested einkorn with only a modest rise in blood sugar but without the gastrointestinal or neurological effects I experienced with conventional whole wheat bread, I next tested bread made with emmer grain.

The emmer grain was ground just like the other two grains, cardiac dietitian Margaret Pfeiffer doing all the work of grinding and baking. Margaret added nothing but water, yeast, and a little salt. The emmer rose a little more than einkorn, but not to the degree of conventional whole wheat.

I tested my blood sugar beforehand: 89 mg/dl. I then ate 4 oz of the emmer bread. It tasted very similar to conventional whole wheat, but not as nutty as einkorn. Also not as heavy as einkorn, only slightly heavier than conventional whole wheat.

One hour later, blood sugar: 147 mg/dl. I felt slightly queasy for about 2-3 hours, but that was the end of it. No abdominal cramps, no sleep disturbance or crazy dreams, no nausea, no change in ability to concentrate.

I asked four other wheat-sensitive people to try the emmer bread. Likewise, nobody reacted negatively (though nobody tested blood sugar).

So it seems to me, based on this small, unscientific experience, that ancient einkorn (A) and emmer (AB) wheat seem to act like carbohydrates, similar to, say, rice or quinoa, but lack many of the other adverse effects induced by conventional wheat.

Modern wheat , Triticum aestivum, contains variations on the "A," "B," and "D" genomes, the "D" contributed by hybridization with Triticum tauschii at about the same time that emmer wheat hybridization occurred. It is likely that proteins coded by the "D" genome are the source of most of the problems with wheat products: immune, neurologic, gastrointestinal destruction, airway inflammation (asthma), increase in appetite, etc. This is consistent with observations made in studies that attempt to pinpoint the gliadin proteins that trigger celiac, the area in which much of this research originates.

If I ever would like an indulgence of cookies or cupcakes, I think that I will order some more einkorn grain from Eli Rogosa .

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