Farro is an ancient
grain that has been around for thousands of years.
More recently, it has grown in popularity. Not only does it
taste great — it’s also good for your health.
It’s packed full of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and
Farro is also a great alternative to refined grains and can
easily be added to your diet.
Here’s all you need to know about farro, including what it is,
its health benefits and how to eat it.
What Is Farro?
Farro is an ancient wheat grain
that originated in Mesopotamia.
Contrary to popular belief, farro does not refer to one type of
Rather, it’s Italian for “ancient wheat grain” and often used
to describe three different grains:
Einkorn: Farro piccolo, known scientifically
as Triticum monococcum
Emmer: Farro medio, known scientifically as
Spelt: Farro grande, known scientifically as
There is much confusion over the true name for farro, mainly
because the names above are used interchangeably in different
regions and countries.
The kind that’s most commonly found in the US and Europe is
emmer wheat. It’s sold dry and prepared by cooking it in water
until it’s soft and chewy.
Before it’s cooked it looks similar to wheat berries, but
afterward it looks similar to barley. It’s a small, light-brown
grain with a noticeable outer layer of bran.
Here’s what it looks like:
Farro is loved for its nutty flavor and unique, chewy texture.
It’s a great alternative to other popular grains, such as rice,
quinoa, buckwheat and barley, among others.
It can be eaten alone or as an ingredient in dishes like stews,
salads and soups. It can also be mixed with fruit and cream and
eaten in a similar style to granola or muesli.
Without further ado, here are the top 5 health benefits of
1. It Is Very Nutritious
Farro is an extremely nutritious grain. It’s an excellent
source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium,
zinc and some B vitamins.
It’s a much healthier alternative to white rice or other
- Calories: 170
- Carbs: 34 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Magnesium: 15% of the RDI
- Zinc: 15% of the RDI
- Iron: 4% of the RDI
Adding some farro to your diet will give you a healthy dose of
zinc and magnesium, both of which play important roles in your
Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system and wound
healing, as well as breaking down carbs during digestion
Magnesium is needed for strong bones, optimum immunity, healthy
nerve and muscle function and to keep your heartbeat regular
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Summary: Farro is a very nutritious grain
loaded with fiber, protein and some essential minerals and
2. It Contains More Fiber Than Most Popular Grains
Just one cup of whole grain emmer farro can provide a whopping
20% of the daily recommended fiber intake.
This is similar to quinoa,
but higher than a lot of other popular grains, such as brown
rice, pasta and couscous.
The health benefits of a high-fiber diet are not to be snubbed.
They include a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and
heart disease (7).
Furthermore, fiber can help improve digestive health in a
number of ways.
Summary: Emmer farro is an excellent source
of fiber. A high-fiber diet is associated with a lower risk
of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and higher levels of
3. It Contains a Wide Range of Healthy Antioxidants
Observational studies strongly suggest that the long-term
consumption of diets rich in plant polyphenols can protect
against diseases, including some cancers, heart disease,
diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases (14, 19).
A review of 16 studies found that three servings of whole
grains daily reduced the risk of diabetes by 32% (20).
Another large review of 45 studies found that consuming three
servings of whole grains daily reduced the risk of heart
disease by 22% and stroke by 12% (21).
Summary: Farro is a good source of
antioxidants and polyphenols, both of which are thought to
play a role in protecting against heart disease, diabetes,
stroke and some cancers.
4. It’s a Great Source of Protein, Compared to Many Other Plant
This is similar to quinoa but higher than brown rice and whole
When combined with other plant-based foods like legumes, farro
offers a complete protein source. This means it provides an
adequate amount of the essential amino acids important for
This is good news for vegetarians, as well as anyone looking
for plant-based, high-protein food sources.
What’s more, eating more protein can positively affect your
health and waistline.
Additionally, getting enough protein is essential for gaining
muscle mass (26).
Lastly, eating more protein may also have benefits for heart
Summary: Farro is higher in protein than
many other plant-based foods. A diet higher in protein can
benefit your health and waistline.
5. It’s a Weight Loss Friendly Food
Although no studies have looked specifically at the effects of
farro on body weight, it has a number of properties that may
help with weight loss.
If you are trying to
lose weight, farro is a much healthier substitute for other
First, a 47-gram portion contains only 170 calories.
Moreover, it’s high in protein and fiber, which means that it
may help reduce your appetite and keep you fuller for longer
It also has a low glycemic index, meaning that it’s digested
more slowly, causing a slower rise in blood sugar and steady
energy release throughout the day (30).
This helps prevent sharp dips in blood sugar and may prevent
cravings related to unstable blood sugar.
In fact, a review of 15 studies found that consuming three
servings of whole grains daily was associated with a lower BMI
and lower body fat (31).
Summary: Farro is low in calories but high
in protein and fiber. All of these qualities are associated
with a healthier body weight.
Who Should Not Eat It?
Farro is often thought to contain lower levels of gluten than
modern wheat, and many people think ancient grains are safer
for people with gluten-related conditions.
The theory is that if farro is soaked overnight and sprouted,
it’s more tolerable and easier to digest for anyone sensitive
However, all farro is wheat. Therefore, it naturally contains
This means that it is not suitable for people with celiac
Additionally, studies looking at other ancient grains have
found that they still have the potential to be toxic for these
Studies have not investigated how farro affects people with
sensitivity, but trying it is not recommended.
Summary: Farro contains some gluten, so it
is not suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten
How to Choose the Best Farro
Although it’s sometimes difficult to find, more and more large
supermarkets are beginning to stock farro.
You might also find it in health food stores.
It’s generally sold dry and prepared by cooking the grains in
water until they become soft and chewy.
It comes in whole grain, pearled (perlato) and semi-pearled
For maximum nutrition, choose whole grain farro, as it contains
the most fiber and retains all its nutrients. Semi-pearled
farro has part of the bran removed, while pearled varieties
have no bran at all (33).
The only benefit of pearled or semi-pearled farro is that it
cooks faster and does not require soaking overnight like the
whole grain version does.
Pearled farro cooks the fastest in about 15–20 minutes.
Semi-perlato (without any soaking) cooks in about 25 minutes,
and whole grain varieties take around 30–40 minutes (plus
Farro also comes in different bran grades — long, medium or
cracked. If you want the most nutrition, choose long or medium
grades. These haven’t been cracked yet and should retain more
Long grain farro can be cracked in a coffee grinder or blender
to speed up the cooking time.
Summary: To get the most of farro’s
nutritional benefits, buy a long or medium grade of whole
It’s Easy to Add to Your Diet
Farro is super easy to add to your diet. It can be eaten just
like you would eat other popular grains such as rice, barley,
oats or quinoa.
It can also be easily added to salads, soups, stews, risottos
Some people eat it as a breakfast dish similar to granola by
combining it with yogurt, milk or cream, fresh fruit and honey.
Here are a few popular ways to serve farro:
These are just a few of the ways you can eat farro. There are
many more recipes and ideas online for you to try.
Summary: Farro is quite versatile. It can
easily be added to soups, stews and salads or used as an oat
substitute at breakfast time.
The Bottom Line
Farro is an ancient grain with a nutty flavor and chewy
texture. It is incredibly versatile and can be used in a
variety of dishes.
It’s high in protein, fiber and several nutrients. Farro may
have several health benefits, including protection against
heart disease and benefits for weight loss.
On the whole, farro is a tasty and nutritious alternative to