Gluten is a protein that gives foods a chewy texture and allows some of them, like bread, to rise. It is present in barley, rye, and wheat. Gluten is not a problem for most people but for some, it can cause some side effects known as celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. We will explore 10 Healthy Gluten-Free Grains you can add to your meal plan.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that has symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity also have the same symptoms after consuming gluten-containing food.
Most of the grains used daily contain gluten, but some nutritious gluten-free options are available for those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Quinoa has gained popularity in no time and has become one of the most trendy gluten-free grains. It is not only gluten-free but also a good source of plant protein and fiber. It is among those healthiest grains which contain a rich amount of antioxidants and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including heart diseases.
Quinoa is included in one of the few plant foods which consist of a complete protein source. Because most plant foods lack one or two amino acids required by our body. But quinoa contains all eight of these, which makes it an excellent option for plant-based protein.
According to USDA (USDA), one cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 g of fiber and 8 g f protein. It is also packed with other essential nutrients and minerals like magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. These are essential for bone and muscle health and reduce the risk of many diseases like osteoporosis.
Quinoa can be added to the diet in many different ways. It can be an excellent gluten-free ingredient for making tortillas and casseroles. It can also be used to make pancakes and quick bread. See How To Cook Quinoa?
Despite its name, this grain is unrelated to wheat and gluten-free. This grain can provide a high amount of antioxidants, including rutin and quercetin, two specific antioxidants. Some animal studies (Xu, 2014)have shown the positive effects of rutin in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. And quercetin has been shown to lower oxidative stress and inflammation.
Eating buckwheat can also reduce the risk of heart disease because it is associated with lowering bad cholesterol levels, a risk factor for various heart diseases. Another study (Zhang, 2007) has found that consuming buckwheat can reduce blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol levels.
One cup of cooked buckwheat can provide 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. It is also a rich source of other essential nutrients and minerals like copper, magnesium, and manganese.
Buckwheat can be added to soups and salads to give it a crunch. It can also be added to a veggie burger. Buckwheat noodles are also available in the market, which can e a perfect gluten-free swap for traditional pasta. See, How To Cook Buckwheat?
Sorghum is cultivated for multi-purposes; it is used for animal feed and as a cereal grain. It is also used to produce some alcoholic beverages and sorghum syrups. Sorghum also contains some beneficial plant compounds which work as an antioxidant and lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart attack by reducing oxidative stress.
Sorghum also contains a high amount of fiber, which slows down sugar absorption and helps maintain sugar. According to one study (Poquette, 2014), the group of people who were given muffins made from sorghum or whole-wheat flour had a greater reduction in their blood sugar levels than those who consumed the muffin made from whole wheat. See Sorghum Benefits.
One cup of sorghum can provide 20 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber. It also provides 19% of the daily recommended value of iron, an essential mineral the human body needs. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a life-threatening condition if not treated.
Sorghum cancan is grounded into flour and used for baking gluten-free products. It can also be used as a replacement for barley in various recipes like mushroom-barley soup.
Oats have become a trendy breakfast grain due to their various health benefits. Toats contain a high amount of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that can provide health advantages. According to a review of 28 studies (Whitehead, 2014), beta-glucan can be very beneficial in decreasing bad cholesterol levels without affecting good cholesterol. Benefits Of Oatmeal
Beta-glucan can also be very beneficial in maintaining blood sugar levels, as it can slow down the absorption of sugar and lower insulin levels. One cup of dry oats can provide 11 grams of protein and 8 grams fiber. It Is also a great source of other vitamins and minerals like thiamin, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B1.
Although oats are gluten-free, several brands may contain gluten traces. That’s because oats can easily become contaminated with gluten during processing and harvesting. So, make sure to look for brands certified to be gluten-free.
Oats are mostly enjoyed as a bowl of hot oatmeal in breakfast, but these can also be added into granola bars, pancakes, and parfaits for extra nutrients and fiber.
Amaranth is an ancient grain and has been a staple food for Maya, Inca, and Aztec civilizations. It can provide a lot of health benefits due to the high amount of nutrients present in it. It can be very beneficial in reducing inflammation and preventing various diseases.
According to a test tube study (Montoya-Rodríguez, 2014), the compounds present in amaranth can block the inflammation by preventing the activation pathway which triggers the inflammation.
Amaranth is also a great fiber source and reduces the risk of heart diseases like blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. One cup of cooked amaranth can provide 9 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. It also provides 29% of the daily recommended value of iron and contains a high amount of phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium.
Amaranth can be used as a replacement for other gluten-containing grains like couscous and rice. It can also be used in different recipes as a thickening agent, like in soups, sauces, and jellies. See Health Benefits Of Amaranth.
Amaranth/ Callaloo Recipes
Teff is a small, powerful grain with high nutritional value. Despite its 1/100 the size of a wheat kernel, it has as much nutrition as other grains. It is high in protein, which boosts metabolism, promotes satiety, and reduces cravings.
It can also provide a good amount of fiber, an important part of a weight loss diet, as it reduces appetite and improves bowel movement. Fiber is also linked with many other health benefits like reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
One cup of cooked teff contains 7 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein; it also contains a rich amount of B vitamins, especially thiamine. Gluten-free teff is used in baking. It can also be used to make porridge, mix it into chili, and thicken other dishes. See Benefits Of Teff.
Corn or maize is a very popular gluten-free grain that is consumed as a cereal worldwide. It is not only a rich source of fiber, but it also contains many plant pigments like zeaxanthin and lutein, which work as an antioxidant.
Studies (Abdel-Aal, 2013), have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin can be very beneficial for eye health as they can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, both common causes of vision loss in older adults. Another study (Seddon, 1994)has found that a high intake of carotenoids can reduce the risk of age-related degeneration by up to 43% compared to those with a lower risk of carotenoids.
One cup of teff can provide 5 grams protein and 4 grams fiber. It is also a good source of pantothenic acid and contains many minerals and vitamins like vitamin B6, thiamine, and manganese.
Corn can be added to the diet in many different ways. You can have it grilled, roasted, or boiled for a healthy side dish to a balanced meal. You can also enjoy it in salads, soups, casseroles, or right off the cob.
8. Brown Rice
Both white rice and brown come from the same grain, but in the processing of white rice, the bran and germ are removed from the grain. Thus, brown rice has more fiber and other nutrients, which makes it a healthy gluten-free grain.
Both varieties of rice do not contain gluten, but studies have shown that brown rice is more beneficial as it has a high nutritional value. According to a study, (Sun, 2010), people who choose brown rice over white rice have a decreased risk of weight gain, diabetes, and various heart diseases.
One cup of cooked brown rice contains 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. And not only this, but it is also a rich source of selenium and magnesium, two important minerals of the human body. Most people like to eat brown rice on its own as a side dish, but it can also be combined with some boiled vegetables or lean protein and make a filling meal. How To Cook Jasmine Brown Rice?
Brown Rice Recipes
Millet has been used as a grain for hundreds of years, but in the United States, it has gained popularity recently. It is naturally gluten-free and has grown in Africa and India since ancient times. Millet is a nutritionally dense grain that contains a large number of essential minerals in it. Foxtail Millet Benefits.
One cup of cooked millet contains 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein; it also contains a high amount of copper, thiamin, phosphorus, manganese, and niacin. All these minerals and nutrients are important in improving health and reducing the risk of various diseases.
Millet can be used in place of rice and can also be made into flour for baking. It can also be used in making porridge and polenta. See How To Cook Millet?
What Is Fonio? Fonio is an ancient nutty grain from West Africa, but now it is gaining popularity in the marketplaces of America due to its high nutritional value. The most standout nutrient is iron, a very important mineral for the human body, and its deficiency can cause serious health risks.
Fonio can be cooked as couscous and ready in five minutes. Served it with salad or in grain bowls. It can also be added to a veggie burger.
You can also make gluten-free grains and pseudo cereal grounds into flour and enjoy It in many different foods. For example, soba noodles are made up of 100% whole grain buckwheat flour, and gluten-free bread contains brown rice as its first ingredient.
Some Gluten-free Grain Products
Not only gluten-free grains but there are gluten-free grains products are also available in the markets these days which contain whole grain and pseudo cereals. But make sure to check the complete ingredient list before buying them. Here are the few products that consist of gluten-free grains:
- Gluten-free Bread: Organic gluten-free bread is made of organic brown rice as key ingredients and contains gluten-free flour.
- Flour Tortillas: gluten-free tortillas are made up of gluten-free flour and also contain whole grain teff flour and whole grain millet flour.
- Bagels: gluten-free bagels are made up of brown rice flour, which is gluten-free and highly nutritious.
- Soba Noodles: soba noodles consist of only one ingredient, which is 100% whole grain buckwheat flour.
- Baking Mix: Baking mix is made up o freshly milled gluten-free flour and organic oats
You can also look for gluten-free products containing nuts, coconuts, pulses, and other dry fruits. Okara flour and Jackfruit flour are some of the recent ones. Moreover, there are endless options available for gluten-free pasta; make sure to choose one with all the safe ingredients.
Various grains are naturally gluten-free and can be a good option for those on a gluten-free diet. This diet is considered by people suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, while some people also choose this diet for health reasons.
Oats, corn, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, brown rice, teff, sorghum, and amaranth are some of the naturally gluten-free grains. These grains also contain a high amount of nutrients, which provide various health benefits. But be careful when buying gluten-free grains at supermarkets as they can easily get contaminated with gluten.
So, try to avoid the products in the bulk bin and look for the packaged ones with a gluten-free label. You can also find foods that have been certified gluten-free.
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