Farro: Nutrition, Health Benefits, Types, And Side Effects

Written by Sindhu Koganti , BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Farro is an ancient whole-grain wheat and was one of the earliest food crops cultivated in Mesopotamia. It has a nutty taste and chewy texture and has been part of Italian cuisine for centuries. Loaded with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and plant compounds, it is said to be a healthier alternative to other refined grains like rice. Besides, farro may help with weight loss, improve digestion, manage blood sugar levels, and enhance heart health.

In this article, we explore the health benefits of farro, its nutrition, types, recipes, and possible side effects. Keep reading.

What Is Farro?

Farro is a small light-brown grain that looks similar to barley but has an oblong shape. This whole grain is highly nutritious and is a great alternative to refined grains like rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. It can be eaten alone or used as an ingredient in salads, soups, and other dishes.

What nutrients does faro contain? Continue reading to know about its nutritional profile.

Nutrition Profile Of Farro

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of whole grain Emmer farro contain (1):

  • Calories: 362
  • Protein: 12.77g
  • Fat: 2.13g
  • Carbohydrate: 72.34g
  • Dietary fiber: 10.6g
  • Iron: 1.53 mg
  • Magnesium: 128 mg
  • Zinc: 4.79 mg
  • Niacin: 8.511 mg

This protein-rich whole grain may increase satiety, improve muscle mass, and reduce blood pressure (2), (3), (4). But how much protein should you take daily? A protein calculator can help you understand.

Intake of whole grains like farro is catching up for a range of health benefits they offer. What are they? Scroll down to find out.

Health Benefits Of Farro

1. Is Rich In Dietary Fiber

A study conducted by the University of Illinois (US) found that consuming foods rich in dietary fiber may reduce the risk of colon cancer, type2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (5). A higher fiber intake may help lower LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of coronary heart disease (6). Fiber may also help prevent constipation, promote laxation, lower bodyweight, and improve gut health (7),(8).

2. Is High InAntioxidants

Whole grains like farro are a great source of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that may protect against many ailments (9). Research conducted by the University of Life Sciences (Poland) studied six varieties of Triticumspelta (farro grande or spelt), and all of them exhibited antioxidant potential (10). Other varieties in farro, like einkorn and emmer, also have phenolic antioxidants (11). A review published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity suggests that foods rich in plant polyphenols protect against cancer, osteoporosis (weak bones), and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases (12).

3. May Help With Weight Loss

A study conducted on 345 overweight and obese adults found that dietary fiber intake promotes weight loss (13). Food rich in fiber and protein can make you feel fuller and decrease food intake, thereby reducing bodyweight (14). Besides, consuming higher dietary protein may also prevent obesity and related diseases (15). However, long-term studies are needed to understand this benefit.

Another study conducted on 1,19,829 participants aged 13 and above linked a higher intake of whole grains (3 servings a day) with lower BMI (16).

4. May Improve Digestion

Studies suggest that dietary fiber in dicoccum wheat (farro) has laxative potential that helps improve bowel movements, loosen up stools, and prevent constipation (17),(18). A review published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that dietary fiber intake may increase stool frequency in people with constipation (19).

5. Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels

Megan Wong, a registered dietitian, says, “Farro is a healthy carbohydrate choice for people trying to manage their blood sugars, such as those with diabetes.” “It is a whole grain that is much lower on the glycemic index scale (digests slowly) compared to refined grains. This means it doesn’t raise your blood sugar as much or as quickly,” she adds. A study conducted by the University of Medical Center (The Netherlands) linked high fiber intake with a decreased mortality rate in people with diabetes (20).

6. May Promote Heart Health

A study conducted by the University of Minnesota (US) found that phytochemicals in whole grains protect against several diseases (21). Rich dietary fiber in these grains may lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (22). However, more studies are needed to understand this benefit of farro in humans.

Farro is available in three types, and they are known by multiple names. Continue reading to know more.

Types Of Farro

  • Triticumspelta is spelt, also known as farro grande.
  • Triticum monococcum is eikhorn, also termed farro piccolo.
  • Triticum dicoccum is emmer farro, also called farro medio.

Each type has a different taste, nutrition profile, and color. Based on the processing types, these are available as:

  • Whole grains (the outer layer of bran is retained)
  • Semi-pearled farro (the bran is partly removed)
  • Pearled farro (no bran)

What to look for while buying farro? Here are a few tips that will help you out.

How To Choose The Best Farro?

Check the label for nutrition and other specifics. Choose whole-grain farro for maximum nutrition. This variety has high fiber and is widely available in the US. Go for pearled farro if you are looking for a variety that cooks fast.

Farro can be eaten as breakfast, a snack, or a whole meal. Here are a few options you can try:

How To Add Farro To Your Diet?

  • Make a salad with turnips and greens.
  • Prepare a farro vegetable soup.
  • Make cheesy farro by mixing it with tomato paste.
  • Mix farro with sausage and cook on low heat.

It is easy to include farro in your diet. Here are three easy and delicious farro recipes that you can try at home.

1. Farro Salad

What You Need

  • Farro – 1½ cups
  • Water – 4 cups
  • Tomatoes – 1 pound
  • Salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Snipped fresh chives – ¼ cup
  • Sweet onion – ½ cup
  • Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves – ¼ cup
  • Balsamic vinegar – 2 tablespoons
  • Minced garlic clove – 1 large
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – ¼ cup

Process

  1. Add water to farro in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender (about 30 minutes).
  4. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  5. Add the tomatoes, onion, chives, and parsley to the farro, and toss to combine.
  6. Whisk the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a medium bowl.
  7. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.
  8. You can refrigerate the salad overnight.
  9. Bring to room temperature before serving.

2. Apple Farro Breakfast Bowl

What You Need

  • Farro – ½ cup
  • Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Water – 1½cups
  • Dried cranberries – ¼ cup
  • Chopped toasted hazelnuts – ¼ cup
  • Greek yogurt – ½ cup
  • Honey – 3 tablespoons
  • Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Cinnamon – to taste

Process

  1. Add the farro, water, and salt to a medium saucepan. Place on medium-high heat.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until the mixture is plump (for about 40 minutes).
  3. Drain excess water and set it aside.
  4. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the apples in coconut oil for about five minutes, or until they turn soft and a bit gold.
  5. Add cinnamon and stir.
  6. Add the toasted hazelnuts and dried cranberries, and toss.
  7. Take a scoop of farro in a bowl and top it with the apple mixture, a spoonful of yogurt, and a drizzle of honey. Serve!

3. Kale, Butternut Squash, And Farro Soup

What You Need

  • Farro – 1 cup (soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained)
  • Olive – 1 tablespoon
  • Finely chopped yellow onion– 1 (medium)
  • Chopped fresh thyme – 1 teaspoon
  • Kosher salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Sage – 1 teaspoon
  • Chicken or vegetable broth – 2 quarts
  • Kale – 1 bunch
  • Butternut squash – 1 medium
  • Freshly ground black pepper – for seasoning

Process

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until it shimmers (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add the onion and salt. Cook until the onion softens (about 8 minutes) and stir occasionally.
  3. Add the herbs and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
  4. Add the broth and bring to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat to low, cover, and continue simmering until the onion turns soft (about 15 minutes more).
  6. Add the soaked farro, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the butternut squash, cover, and simmer until the squash is soft (about 30 minutes).
  8. Mash a few pieces of the squash using a potato masher, so it dissolves into the soup.
  9. Add the kale to the soup, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  10. Taste and season with pepper and more salt as needed.

Are there any side effects of eating farro? Who should avoid eating them? Scroll down to know these answers.

Possible Side Effects Of Farro

Consuming farro is generally considered safe. But those with a wheat allergy may experience skin rashes or hives, abdominal pain, nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting, stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, headaches, and asthma (23). Hence, they should avoid eating them. Anaphylaxis (serious allergic reaction) may also occur in severe conditions (24). Heather Hanks, a nutritionist, says, “Farro contains phytic acid that binds to minerals and prevents them from being absorbed in the digestive tract.” Moreover, farro contains gluten, and those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease should avoid taking it (25).

Conclusion

Farro is loaded with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds. It is rich in fiber and protein and may help lose bodyweight, improve digestion, manage blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, it adds a different nutty taste to your food. Try the above-mentioned recipes to include them in your diet. However, people with wheat allergy and celiac disease should avoid consuming farro.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is farro better for you than rice?

Yes. It is a healthy alternative to refined grains like rice. Moreover, farro is richer in fiber and protein and offers many health benefits.

Which is healthier – quinoa or farro?

Farro has more nutrients and carbohydrates than quinoa.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. WHOLE GRAIN EMMER FARRO
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1177046/nutrients
  2. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis satiety and weight loss: a critical review
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15466943/
  3. The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass strength and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25169440/
  4. Intake of total protein plant protein and animal protein in relation to blood pressure: a meta-analysis of observational and intervention studies
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23514841/
  5. The health benefits of dietary fiber: beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus cardiovascular disease and colon cancer
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22401879/
  6. Effects of soluble dietary fiber on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and coronary heart disease risk
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  7. Dietary Fibre from Whole Grains and Their Benefits on Metabolic Health
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  8. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits
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  10. Comparison of phenolic acids profile and antioxidant potential of six varieties of spelt (Triticumspelta L.)
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22500695/
  11. Content of phenolic antioxidants and selenium in grain of einkorn (Triticummonococcum) emmer (Triticumdicoccum) and spring wheat (Triticumaestivum) varieties
    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Content-of-phenolic-antioxidants-and-selenium-in-of-Lachman-Miholov%C3%A1/6b3965795021dbc1c96a31ea7f20e625f668747f
  12. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835915/
  13. Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31174214/
  14. Dietary fiber and body weight
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  15. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss
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  21. Whole grains and human health
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  22. Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses
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