10 Gluten-Free Grains to Add to Your Diet

Whether you’re sensitive to gluten or just wanting to eat less of it, here are 6 gluten-free grains that offer many health benefits:

Amaranth

Amaranth has a unique and earthy flavor and is high in fiber and protein. Technically, it is neither a grain nor a grass but a plant that is related to spinach and Swiss chard. Originally from Mexico, the plant was used extensively in the diets of ancient Aztecs. The plant produces flowers that have a large number of seeds, which can be cooked as a grain or ground into a flour. It is rinch in the amino acid lysine, making it an excellent choice to treat viral-related conditions and infections, including cold sores and arthritis.

Additionally, it is an excellent source of iron, calcium, and vitamin E. It is high in protein, having about 26 grams per cup of amaranth. One cup of the uncooked grain has approximately 86 percent of the daily requirement for iron. It has also been found to contain plant sterols that regulate cholesterol levels. It can be used in place of most grains or as flour in baking, but it also makes a great alternative to porridge for breakfast.

Brown Rice

Unlike white rice, brown rice is high in fiber and vitamin E.  Vitamin E is essential for healthy skin, immune function and many other critical functions in your body. During the processing of brown rice into white, these nutrients are largely lost. Brown rice also contains high amounts of the minerals manganese, magnesium and selenium. It also contains tryptophan, which helps with sleep. Selenium helps ward off cancer. Brown rice can easily replace white rice in almost any recipe: soups, stews, stir-fries and even to make a dairy-free milk substitute.

Buckwheat

The name is a bit misleading.  Buckwheat is not related to wheat and is both wheat- and gluten-free. It’s not even technically a grain but a seed that’s a relative of rhubarb. It is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium, tryptophan and copper. Research shows that the regular consumption of buckwheat reduces the incidence of high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The combination of vitamin C and the flavonoid rutin give buckwheat its ability to prevent blood clumping and to keep blood moving smoothly through blood vessels. Research in the medical journal Nutrition Research found that buckwheat may be helpful in the management of diabetes by improving insulin resistance—a condition in which the body does not respond sufficiently to insulin, resulting in excessively high blood sugar levels.

Forbidden Rice

It is believed that in ancient China, black rice was revered and only the emperor was allowed to eat it, resulting in its name “forbidden rice.” In modern times, black rice, or purple rice as it is also called, is one of over 40,000 varieties of rice, but is now readily available in most grocery or health food stores. Forbidden rice, or black rice as it is also known, is also showing promise in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders caused by Helicobacter pylori, which include ulcers, according to research published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. Black rice is gluten-free and tends to be low-allergenic so most people with food sensitivities or allergies can handle it. Technically, black rice like other types of rice is a seed, not a grain, so it can be eaten even on most grain-free diets. It has a slightly chewy texture and a delicious nutty flavor.

Millet

Similar in texture to couscous, millet is high in manganese, phosphorus, tryptophan and magnesium. Phosphorus is a key component of ATP—your body’s energy currency. ATP helps ensure that your body has the energy it needs for every function. Tryptophan is the amino acid that helps your body make melatonin which in turn helps you sleep like a baby at night. Magnesium has been shown in studies to reduce the severity of headaches and asthma. And, according to new research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, foods high in insoluble fiber like millet can help reduce the incidence of gallstones.

Gluten-Free Oats

Oats are naturally gluten-free; however, they are often grown or processed alongside wheat which means they can become contaminated with gluten. So, if you have a severe gluten sensitivity or intolerance, gluten-free oats may not be right for you. However, if you’re just trying to eat less gluten, you might enjoy some of the benefits of gluten-free oats, which are good for your body in many ways. They help stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol, and are high in protein and fiber. Oats are available in many forms including instant, steel-cut, rolled, bran, groats, flakes and flour. The best options are the less refined ones like steel-cut, rolled, flakes, and bran. Oat flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour in baking recipes. A good source of minerals like manganese, selenium, magnesium and the sleep aid tryptophan, in many studies oats also assist with lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Quinoa

Quinoa, a staple of the ancient Incas who revered it as sacred, is not a true grain, rather the seed of an herb. Unlike most grains quinoa is a complete protein and is high in iron, magnesium, B-vitamins and fiber. In studies, quinoa is a proven aid for migraine sufferers and, like most whole grains, lessens the risk for heart disease. It also contains the building blocks for superoxide dismutase—an important antioxidant that helps protect the energy centers of your cells from free radical damage.

Sorghum

Introduced to North America in 1757, sorghum is actually thousands of years old. Depending on the variety, the plant can grow to between 5 and 12 feet tall. The kernels from the plant are high in protein and have a mellow taste and light texture, making it great to eat as a grain or ground and used as a flour in baked goods, since it makes them less dense. It is a good source of niacin, as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus and potassium. It is a natural antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Teff

Originating from North Africa, teff is a staple in many traditional African diets and is most known for its role in Ethiopian cusine. If you’ve ever eaten injera, a type of large, fermented crepe that is used as the basis of many Ethiopian dish, you’ve probably eaten teff. It is the smallest grain in the world being about the size of a poppy seed. With its unique and slightly nutty taste, it impoarts a delicious flavor and lots of nutrition to baked goods. In a study of 1800 people with celiac disease, those who ate teff had a significant reduction in symptoms. Similar to quinoa, it is a complete protein. Additionally, it is high in lysine, calcium, copper and iron. Use it to make savory flatbread that can be eaten alongside African-inspired dishes. You can also add it to baked goods to impart a nutty flavor and increase the protein and overall nutritional quality of gluten-free baking.

Wild Rice

Like millet and quinoa, wild rice is not a true grain.  It’s actually a type of aquatic grass seed native to the United States and Canada. It tends to be a bit pricier than other grains, but its high content of protein, and nutty flavor make wild rice worth every penny. It’s an excellent choice for people with celiac disease or those who have gluten or wheat sensitivities. Wild rice also has a lower caloric content than many grains at only 83 calories per half cup of cooked rice. And it is high in fiber. Add wild rice to soups, stews, salads and pilaf. It’s important to note that wild rice is black. There are many blends of white and wild rice, which primarily consist of refined white rice. Be sure to use only real wild rice, not the blends.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Dr. Cook’s Natural Prescription for Ulcers: Over 20 Proven Natural Remedies that WorkFollow her work.

 

145 comments

Past Member
Past Member 9 days ago

I am not familiar with some of the grains; however, I do have an interest in trying something new once in a while.

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Cindy M D
Cindy M. D14 days ago

Not familiar with all the grains listed above. I have been looking for forbidden rice for a while and can't seem to find it in Philly or surrounding area. Would love to try it.

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maria r
maria reis15 days ago

Thanks.

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Mona M
Mona M16 days ago

Thank you.

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Lisa M
Lisa M16 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M16 days ago

Thanks.

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Donna T
Donna T16 days ago

thank you

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitney18 days ago

They all sound delicious Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitney18 days ago

Very informative Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitney18 days ago

Great information and advice Thank you for caring and sharing

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