Avoiding gluten can be hard when it finds its way into so many of our household staples – particularly grains like pasta and bread. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of nutrient-dense grains that pass the test with flying colours – and it doesn’t hurt that they work wonders for your gut health too.
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, among other grains. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten is crucial to maintaining good health. Fortunately, there are many gluten-free grains that can be used as substitutes for wheat and other grains. Let’s take a look at four of the most healthful gluten-free grains.
Quinoa is a loaded with fibre and protein, and it happens to be one of the few plant foods that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It packs around 8 grams of protein per cup, and protein is known to be one of the most satiating macronutrients, making it an ideal option to reduce cravings and eat healthily. This grain is also a powerful source of antioxidants, packing quercetin and kaempferol in high doses – both of which are known to have anti-inflammatory effects and reduce our risk for disease. Quinoa is easy to prepare and can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to soups to breakfast porridge.
Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is naturally gluten-free – it’s also loaded with magnesium, zinc, fibre and protein., making it a nutrient-dense alternative to wheat flour in baking. It can also be used as a base for gluten-free pancakes or porridge. Among cereal and pseudocereals – these are grains that can be used similarly to cereal grains and include amaranth and quinoa – buckwheat has the highest amount of rutin, an antioxidant with an impressive line of benefits. For starters, it’s known to lower our risk of heart disease by combatting the contributing factors like inflammation, high-blood pressure and blood clots.
Amaranth has been used for over 8000 years – and for good reason. This ancient grain is rich in manganese, packing 91% of our daily needs in just one cup, along with boasting an impressive 38% of our daily magnesium needs and 29% of our iron needs. It’s also the perfect option to boost digestion as it packs around 20% of our fibre needs in that same cup. Amaranth also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage. One study found that eating amaranth regularly reduced the bad – LDL – cholesterol and raised our good – HDL – cholesterol drastically. Amaranth can be used in a variety of dishes, from breakfast porridge to salads to soups. It also works well in couscous if you’re looking to use a grain with slow-release energy and nutrient-density.
Millet is rich in fibre, protein, magnesium and phosphorus. It has a mild, nutty flavour and can be used in a variety of dishes, from pilafs to porridge to muffins. One of the best things about this grain is its link to lower inflammation, reduced risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. One study found that replacing white rice with millet in a meal lowered blood-sugar levels after the meal by almost 30%. So, skip the boring old rice and toss some millet onto your meals!
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