The health and nutrition benefits of wild rice, cornmeal, quinoa and amaranth.

Despite the fact that they're gluten free, packed with fiber and rich in essential nutrients, certain whole grains such as quinoa, wild rice, cornmeal and amaranth remain underrated. Read on to see why you should make these native grains staples in your pantry as well as stars of your dinner table.

-Maria Speck

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Pictured Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Beets & Pomegranate


Quinoa, which is native to the Andes, comes in red and white. It is one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein, meaning it has balanced quantities of 9 essential amino acids.

Pictured Recipe: Cranberry Cornbread


The cradle of corn is southern Mexico, where scientists found milling tools with maize residue dating back almost 9,000 years. Cornmeal, which has a fraction of the calories of other grains, is also sometimes labeled "polenta."

Pictured Recipe: Wild Rice Pilaf with Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

Wild Rice

Chewy and nutty wild rice, which has fewer carbs and more protein than brown rice, is actually not a rice, but an aquatic grass grown extensively in the Midwest around the Great Lakes.

Pictured Recipe: Amaranth Pudding with Amaretto Cream


Grown as an ornamental for its pretty blooms as well as for its grains, amaranth is a boon for vegetarians because it's high in both iron and zinc, nutrients that can be tough to get in a vegetarian diet.