Freekeh is a wheat-based cereal grain that’s relatively new to the British market but has been popular in North Africa and the Levant for hundreds of years. In fact, it’s so old, historians believe it’s referred to in the Bible.1
Freekeh is made from green durum wheat, so is very similar to the European spelt used in Scandinavian and Italian cuisines. Like spelt, freekeh is a nourishing, versatile grain, chewy and smokey. It’s as delicious in a stew, as it is in a salad.
In this article, we’ll explain what freekeh is, it’s health benefits, and suggest how you can use freekeh at home.
What is freekeh?
Freekeh is made by harvesting young durum wheat before maturity, while it’s green in colour. Traditionally, freekeh would be roasted outdoors over a flame, giving it a smokey taste. As the freekeh’s cooked, the exterior of the grain burns away. At the same time, the grains inside stay plump and moist, turning into delicious freekeh.
A 243g portion of freekeh contains 11g of fibre, which is 44% of your daily recommended intake. Fibre encourages digestive health and promotes the growth of health-boosting gut bacteria.2,3
Freekeh’s nutritional content means it has a whole host of benefits to enhance wellness and vitality.
Promotes eye health
Freekeh is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds which scientists strongly connect with good eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are said to protect eyes from common age-related disorders.4,5,6
Encourages muscle development
Freekeh contains naturally occurring glutamic acid, a potent amino acid which helps the body to build glutamine, grow muscles and improve strength.7
Low on the glycemic index
Eating foods regularly that cause blood sugar spikes after eating has adverse lifelong health outcomes.8 As freekeh is low on the glycemic index, it does not cause blood sugar to spike and promotes health.9
Support weight loss
Freekeh is relatively high in protein for a grain of its size. A 100g portion contains 12.5g of protein, and adults are required to eat 50g per day.10 That means it accounts for more than a fifth of your daily intake. Protein-rich diets have been shown to increase feelings of fullness and improve body weight management.11
How to get more freekeh in your diet
Freekeh is incredibly similar to the Northern European spelt grain. Like spelt, it’s versatile and complements a variety of savoury flavours. You can use freekeh in grain bowls, salads and soups, or as a side dish for a protein-rich main course.
Last updated: 15 March 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal
Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.
Author: Bhupesh Panchal