Zea or Zeia , the main grain of the Ancient Greeks’ diet

Photo By mylittlegreekfoodbook
One of ancient Greeks’ main diet ingredients was Zea flour (Triticum Dicoccum is the scientific name). They wouldn’t eat food containing wheat. They used wheat as animals’ food. The grain of Zea is probably the oldest in the world.
Photo By bachari

It looks similar to wheat’s grain, but its nutrition facts differ significantly. Zea flour (other names Emmer, Zeia and Spelt) is high in fiber, minerals and protein. Its products are considered to be more nutritious and palatable. Sometimes is confused with the German Dinkel grain. 

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Zea is two times richer in dietary fiber than wheat, two times richer in protein with a high amount of vitamins A, B, C and E. It is also high in magnesium and very low in gluten.

Until about 100 years ago, Zea was the most popular grain in Greece. But in 1928, according to Santorini Food Lovers, its cultivation was banned for financial reasons as the imported cereals crops of rice and wheat were more profitable. The revival of the ancient Zea grain has lately been taking place in few areas of Greece’s mainland.

7 thoughts on “Zea or Zeia , the main grain of the Ancient Greeks’ diet

  1. George Spatoulas says:

    Very interesting information about this ancient Greek grain. Can we find this today in Greece? any other place? is it the same a farro, or Emmer, or Spelt?

    It would be great to revive this Greek grain.

    • Jude says:

      Hello, we only use zea to cook with. It’s truly amazing! We buy it from the local organic (BIO) shop, or its freely available on line, again from an organic supplier. It makes the BEST bread dough ever! Once tried you will not return to wheat!

  2. Nikolas Pasiardis says:

    Hello from Greece
    I am very interested in “” the The revival of the ancient Zea grain has lately been taking place in few areas of Greece’s mainland.”” that you say in your article, is there a way to contact the the people reviving the Zea grain, I am very much interested in finding them .
    thank you
    nikos pasiardis

    • GreeceByAGreek says:

      I am sorry but I do not know contact details but i do hear from many locals that they use this alternative grain these days

  3. Apollonas says:

    “They wouldn’t eat food containing wheat. They used wheat as animals’ food!” – Revolutionary sentence! I will use your article in a post about ancient Greek nutrition! Liking your blog!

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