Health: What Is That? Food Ingredients Explained

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Are you baffled by crazy-sounding ingredients in food, wondering: what is that?

Spelt, Maca, Kamut. Some of the crazy sounding ingredients you’ll see all over the grocery store.  Kamut is an Egyptian grain in the wheat family that’s like a nutty rice with an extra protein.

Philadelphia nutritionist Sally Eisenberg says many of the strange sounding ingredients can help with everything from memory and mood, to sleep and sex, and the biggie weight loss. She says, “We now have ancient grains that are coming back from thousands and thousands of years ago. They’re much more nutritionally dense than just wheat, and they have a much larger nutritional profile.”

She says spelt will keep you fuller longer, there’s even spelt spaghetti.  Sally says, “It tastes a little lighter yet nuttier than regular spaghetti, and it has much more protein, more fiber, than wheat. All the bran is intact.”

The Aztecs first cultivated something called amaranth. It’s in a variety of products like cereal, chips, and crackers.  Amaranth is technically a seed that contains a lot of protein, vitamin C, and minerals like calcium and iron.

Maca is a root from South America that’s usually sold as a powder that you mix with something.  It’s  loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Among its potential benefits: relieving anxiety, depression and hot flashes.   “It’s supposed to be very good for libido,” Sally says.

And goji berries are branching out into all kinds of new products. They contain high levels of antioxidants. They taste sort of like a raisin.  Sally says, “Your eyes will thank you. Your skin will thank you.” And there are chocolate covered goji berries. You might even find some goji berries in your Halloween treats.

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