Kamut® (pronounced ka-moot) is a trademarked name given to khorasan wheat. The grain had been all but forgotten, but in recent history Kamut is making a comeback. This is most likely because of its great taste, texture, nutritional value and hypoallergenic properties.
What Is Kamut?
Kamut actually has a confusing and unknown past, as scientists in the United States, Canada, Italy, Israel and Russia have all examined the grain and come to various conclusions regarding its origin and identification. It’s thought to be the cousin of durum wheat, as they both belong to the Triticum turgidum family.
Kamut brand wheat has a rich and buttery flavor. Plus, it is known to be easily digested. Similar to bulgar wheat, has more proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids than common wheat; therefore, it serves as a more nutritious substitute.
Also, Kamut is an excellent crop for organic farming because it produces high-quality wheat without the need for artificial fertilizers or pesticides — this is because the crop has a high tolerance for diverse organic conditions, and similar to other cereals, it yields well. The kernels are twice the size of wheat kernels and are characterized by a distinctive hump shape.
The chemical composition of Kamut wheat has a clear advantage compared to modern wheat because it contains up to 40 percent more protein. Kamut is also richer in benefit-rich zinc, magnesium and selenium as well as many polyphenols and fatty acids. It is known as a “high-energy grain” because of its high percentage of lipids, which provide more energy than refined carbohydrates.
One cup of cooked Kamut has about:
- 251 calories
- 2 grams fat
- 10 milligrams sodium
- 52 grams carbohydrate
- 7 grams dietary fiber
- zero grams sugar
- 11 grams protein
- 4.7 milligrams niacin (24 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams thiamin (14 percent DV)
- 0.14 milligrams vitamin B6 (7 percent DV)
- 20 micrograms folate (5 percent DV)
- 0.05 milligrams riboflavin, or vitamin B2 (3 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams manganese (104 percent DV)
- 304 milligrams phosphorus (30 percent DV)
- 96 milligrams magnesium (24 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligrams copper (21 percent DV)
- 3 milligrams zinc (20 percent DV)
- 3 milligrams iron (19 percent DV)
- 17 milligrams calcium (2 percent DV)
1. Supports Bone Health
The manganese in Kamut promotes strong and healthy bones. This important mineral helps to reduce bone loss, especially in women who are older and more susceptible to weak bones and fractures. Because manganese helps with the regularity of hormones and enzymes, it is also involved in bone metabolism.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one study found that taking a combination of calcium, zinc, copper and manganese helped lessen spinal bone loss in a group of post-menopausal women. Because of mineral deficiencies, half of all women and a quarter of men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
The disease often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort until a fracture occurs. Small holes or weakened areas form in the bone, and this leads to fractures and pain.
Eating foods that are high in manganese, like Kamut, which has more than 100 percent the recommended daily value in one cup, is important in maintaining strong bones and serves as a natural treatment for osteoporosis and symptoms of bone damage.
2. Aids Digestive System
Because Kamut is a high-fiber food, it aids in the regularity and function of the digestive system. Fibrous carbohydrates, such as Kamut, clean you out, fill you up and help combat bacteria and toxins as they increase the absorption of nutrients. The digestive system works by passing the food you consume through a series of phases. Once it gets to the colon, most of the nutrient absorption has happened, but water, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the colon and are waiting to be excreted.
As this waste moves through the colon, it starts in a liquid state and then becomes solid. Fiber helps to solidify the waste and keep it moving through the system smoothly. Fiber helps the body to form stool, which is the solid form of bodily waste, and it helps to fuse all that is left in the colon, including the bacteria, vitamins, process waste and food particles.
The level of zinc in Kamut also helps in regulating digestion. A zinc deficiency is related to chronic digestive problems and diarrheal diseases, so zinc supplementation has been shown to be effective in both prophylaxis and helping treat diarrhea.
3. Detoxes the Body
If you experience frequent headaches, bloating, gas, fatigue, muscle aches, skin problems and bad breath, then you may need to detox your liver. Kamut is a great source of phosphorus, an essential mineral involved in hundreds of cellular activities every single day. Foods high in phosphorus are important for kidney function and help the body detox by eliminating toxins and waste through urine.
In order to balance levels of uric acid, sodium, water and fat within the body, the kidneys and other digestive organs rely on electrolytes like phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
4. High Source of Protein
Protein makes up the structure of the cells, organs and muscles in our bodies; Kamut is a high source of protein that helps our bodies make hormones, coenzymes, blood cells and even DNA. The great benefit of consuming high-protein foods is weight management. Protein increases satiety (or fullness) during meals, causing people to eat less overall. If you are eating just until you are satisfied, not stuffed, you will only eat as much as your body needs, and this will contribute to weight loss and management.
A 2015 scientific review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher protein diets improved participants’ appetites, body weight management and cardiometabolic risk factors. These improvements are thought to be due, in part, to modulations in energy metabolism and energy intake.
5. Fights the Common Cold
The zinc present in Kamut may help prevent the common cold and symptoms of other illnesses. Research shows that zinc can interfere with the molecular process that causes mucus and bacteria to build within the nasal passages. Ionic zinc, based on its electrical charge, has the ability to exert an antiviral effect by attaching to receptors in nasal epithelial cells and blocking the viral infection.
A 2013 study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that intake of zinc was associated with the significant reduction in the duration of the common cold. The proportion of participants who experienced cold symptoms after seven days of treatment was significantly smaller than those in the control group.
Also, the incidence of developing a cold or taking antibiotics was reduced in the participants undergoing zinc treatment.
6. Supports Brain Health
The manganese in Kamut supports cognitive health, and it helps make khorasan wheat a viable brain food. Did you know that a percentage of the body’s manganese supply exists in the brain? Because of this, manganese is closely tied to cognitive function. Manganese is released into the synaptic cleft of the brain and affects synaptic neurotransmission, so it’s possible that a manganese deficiency can make people more prone to mental illness, mood changes, learning disabilities and even epilepsy.
A 2013 study published in the International Review of Neurobiology explains that manganese is “pivotal for normal cell function and metabolism.”
Another study published in 2003 notes that a manganese deficiency may enhance susceptibility to epileptic functions and appears to affect manganese homeostasis in the brain, which is probably followed by alteration of neural activity. (It is important to note that manganese can have a toxic effect on the brain when consumed in excessive amounts.)
7. Balances Hormones
Zinc and manganese are responsible for naturally balancing hormones in the body. Zinc benefits hormonal health and fertility because it plays an important role in hormone production, including increasing testosterone naturally, which has widespread roles in both men and women.
Zinc benefits female sex hormones and is even involved in the creation and release of eggs within and from the ovaries. It’s needed for the production of estrogen and progesterone in women, as both support reproductive health. When estrogen levels become too high or too low, this causes problems with menstruation, mood swings, infertility and easy menopause, and it might even increase the risk of cancer.
A 2010 study conducted at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran evaluated zinc’s ability to treat sexual dysfunction in chronic renal failure patients undergoing hemodialysis.
One hundred male patients were given a zinc supplement of 250 milligrams every day for six weeks. As a result of the treatment, testosterone levels increased significantly, suggesting that zinc can improve the sexual function of patients struggling with sexual dysfunction.
8. Lowers Cholesterol
Consuming high-fiber foods like Kamut is effective for lowering cholesterol because fiber aids the digestive system and helps the body to get rid of toxins and unwanted waste. A 2013 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared Kamut wheat to semi-whole-grain wheat.
Participants consumed products, including pasta, bread and crackers, made from one of the wheat types. After an eight-week consumption period, laboratory analysis found that Kamut products could be effective in reducing metabolic risk factors, markers of both oxidative stress and inflammatory status.
The History of Kamut
The story of Kamut’s appearance in the U.S. is an interesting one. According to anecdotal reports, the Kamut grain was found in a pyramid in Egypt and some kernels were given to an American airman who was stationed in Portugal around 1949. The airman sent them to his father, a wheat farmer in Montana, and he planted a small amount of the grain.
By Christine Ruggeri