Whether you're suffering from something like celiac disease or just don't feel "well" when eating gluten grains, there are plenty of great options you can turn to instead.
Camilla V. Saulsbury is a freelance food writer, recipe developer and cooking instructor. Her culinary focus is translating food and flavor trends into fresh, innovative, and delicious recipes for the home kitchen. Camilla joins host Lisa Davis to share her favorite gluten-free grains, as well as some simple ways to prepare these grains.
Amaranth was a staple food of the pre-Columbian Aztecs in Mexico and Peru. A growing body of research indicates that amaranth can help fend off a variety of cancers. Amaranth should be considered a functional food in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Chia seeds were once a power food of the ancient Aztec civilization. Superior in protein quality to wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, amaranth and soy, chia also offers a disease-fighting arsenal of antioxidants. When combined with liquid, chia seeds swell and form a gel that can be used as an egg substitute in baked goods.
Despite its name, buckwheat has no relation to wheat whatsoever. Rather, this naturally gluten-free grain is the seed of a plant related to rhubarb. The benefits of buckwheat also extend to its mineral and antioxidant composition. Recent findings suggest that buckwheat actually has a glucose-lowering effect.
Millet’s history as a cultivated crop dates back to 6000 BC in China, where it was once considered one of the five sacred crops and was, for thousands of years, the primary grain of northern China. High in fiber and protein, millet helps to keep the digestive tract operating smoothly and lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Millet is one of the only grains that is alkalizing to the body.
Oats are one of the most nutritious, powerful foods you can eat. Oats lower cholesterol, boost immunity, accelerate wound healing and improve the functionality of antibiotics. What really sets oats apart is how they benefit digestion.
Quinoa is classified a super-food by nutritionists and a “super-crop” by the United Nations. The National Academy of Sciences calls quinoa “one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom.”
Rice is one of the most ancient cultivated foods. Beyond being naturally gluten-free, brown rice is rich in antioxidants and minerals such as selenium and manganese. Like many other whole grains, brown rice is high in fiber, which assists in weight loss and maintenance, digestive health and stabilization of the body’s blood sugar levels.
Sorghum, an ancient cereal grain that’s a staple crop in India and throughout Africa, has long been considered a safe grain alternative for people who cannot tolerate gluten. Sorghum promotes a healthy metabolism, thanks to its high magnesium and copper levels.
Teff, native to Ethiopia and smaller than any other grain, has origins that can be traced back between 4000 and 1000 BC. Teff is high in resistant starch, a type of dietary fiber that benefits blood sugar management, weight control and colon health.