Grains are delicious and good for your health, but there are so many of them that contain gluten, that sneaky ingredient which many (those who are gluten intolerant, have celiac disease or wheat allergies) people can’t digest without experiencing problems. That is why it is good to know that there is also a variety of healthy, nutritious and tasty grains that are gluten-free, so that everyone can eat them without having to worry about digestive problems (of course, if they eat them in controlled portions as too much grain can lead to diarrhea).
So, here is a list of 7 gluten-free grains for your enjoyment.
1. Quinoa is one of the so-called superfoods. It is a seed from a vegetable similar to spinach and it is rich (up to 20%) in quality protein and amino acids, contains riboflavin (which improves metabolism and helps with migraines), provides strength for physical activities and speeds up the process of recovery after a workout. Quinoa also acts as an antiseptic, and with only 172 calories in ½ cup, we can say that it is a low-cal food that contains complex carbohydrates that will keep your blood sugar in control.
2. Millet is a gluten-free, sweet tasting grain which is maybe the most easily digested of all the grains out there. The number of persons allergic to it is almost non-existent. It is, of course, gluten-free, it behaves as a prebiotic and keeps your colon hydrated which helps you stay regular. Millet is rich in complex carbs and fiber, helps in controlling your blood sugar levels and has a low glycemic index.
3. Cornmeal whole grain should not be confused with corn starch, because these two are very different. Cornmeal helps improve digestion and bowel movement, it lowers blood pressure and prevents heart disease (or ameliorates its symptoms if a person already has it). Cornmeal is also a very good source of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and vitamin B6. However, for this grain to be healthy, it needs to be organic, GMO free.
4. Amaranth is a highly nutritious gluten-free grain which contains the highest levels of protein of all gluten-free grains, with 28.1 grams of protein in only one cup. It is also rich in lysine, which is an essential amino acid, and it is easily absorbed in the intestinal tract. Amaranth also contains iron, magnesium, calcium and fiber in levels higher than in any other grain. Besides all that, amaranth contains good amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, like most whole grains, and high levels of vitamin E, which means this grain is also very heart-healthy.
Amaranth is our all-round recommendation!
5. Sorghum has recently been discovered as a gluten-free grain with good nutritional values. According to a study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, this grain is safe for those with celiac disease. It was until recently used only for feeding animals, but it has become an ingredient in gluten-free flour and other baking mixes. It has no taste or smell, so you don’t even notice it’s there. Sorghum is not particularly rich in protein or lysine which is important for the body’s growth and maintenance, and therefore it is not used on its own, but mixed with other grains. It is also a little more difficult to digest than other gluten-free grains, but it is still more digestible than those containing gluten.
6. Buckwheat is a gluten-free grain similar to rhubarb. It is a good source of fiber (3.1 grams per 100 grams) and it contains many important nutrients. This grain is beneficial for our health as it can be used in treating some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, and it has been shown to lower blood pressure. It is also good for circulation and it improves the strength of capillary walls due to containing a glycoside called rutin. You can use this grain as an alternative to wheat, but make sure you buy buckwheat that is without contaminants, or if you buy it in packaging make sure it has the gluten-free label.
7. Brown rice is a whole grain with good amounts of fiber and other important nutrients. It is rich in iron, vitamins B3, B1 and B5, and manganese as well, which is crucial for antioxidant activity, the body’s ability to produce sex hormone and energy. Brown rice also contains selenium which possibly reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.