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Nutritional Content of Alternative Gluten-Free Grains and Flours

Celiac.com 10/02/2008 - Whole grains are good sources of B-Vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and selenium, but one of their most important nutritional benefits is the fiber they bring to our diets.  Whole grains such as wheat, brown rice, and oats include both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber is easy to remember – it is water soluble, and as such can be assimilated into the body, where it plays an important role in blood sugar regulation and cholesterol balance.   Soluble fiber also helps provide a sense of fullness or satiety.  Insoluble fiber is - you guessed it - insoluble in water, and is not assimilated into the body, but passes through the digestive tract and is eliminated.  That does not mean insoluble fiber has a less important nutritional role to play.  Insoluble fiber is very important in keeping our digestive and elimination systems regular.  Fiber aids the transit of toxic substances out of the body, and in doing so, helps to reduce the incidence of colon and rectal cancers.

In eliminating gluten grains from your diet, have you wondered what you are missing nutritionally?  Are you able to get adequate replacements for the nutrients in wheat, barley, rye, and oats, from the other nutritional components of your diet?  The answer is a qualified yes.  We know this on several levels.  For tens of thousands of years, entire cultures have thrived without growing or consuming any of the gluten grains.  We also know, from looking at what nutrients gluten grains provide, that there are more than adequate sources of these nutrients in alternative grains, and from vegetable sources.  Fiber is something we do need to be aware of, though.  Studies have shown that standard gluten-free diets are low in fiber, especially when baking with the “white” alternative products like white or sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.  We can remedy this by eating alternative grains in whole, unprocessed states, and by including nuts, seeds, and other sources of fiber such as dried coconut and legumes in our diets.  Wheat is an excellent source of Vitamin E, so those on gluten-free diets might want to supplement with a good brand of Vitamin E.

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Some commercial gluten-free flour blends seek to duplicate white flour, and are made primarily of white rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch (see the nutrition comparisons on the next page).  These products are nearly devoid of nutrition and contain almost no fiber.  Using these types of products result in baked goods that are the nutritional equivalent of wonder-bread.  If you didn’t eat wonder-bread before going gluten-free, why should you attempt to duplicate it now?  When making your flour blends, coming up with new recipes, and altering traditional wheat-flour recipes, try to include alternative grain products (and sometimes nut flours) that contain substantial amounts of fiber, protein, calcium, and iron, all nutrients found in whole grains, but in much smaller amounts in highly processed grains.  Quinoa, sorghum, teff, amaranth, brown rice and millet flour are all good products to try.

See the chart attached to this article (the link to it is in the "Attachments" section below) for the nutrient content of the many gluten-free alternative grains, starches, and nut flours.  The highest levels of nutrients in each category are noted, and you can see what nutritional powerhouses grains like teff, quinoa, sorghum, and amaranth are compared to white rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.  

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11 Responses:

 
Karen Norman
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said this on
08 Oct 2008 7:31:02 PM PDT
Thank you, I really appreciate your articles!

 
Michael Shepard
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said this on
09 Oct 2008 8:40:29 AM PDT
Very useful overview that should help guide readers toward a better diet. The chart would be better if it included wheat for comparison.

 
Viv
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said this on
17 Jan 2017 4:42:56 PM PDT
Yes I agree. A comparison to what we need to exclude would be great!

 
Linda Russell
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said this on
09 Oct 2008 1:43:02 PM PDT
This is very good to know. I can now substitute flours as I see fit to keep my husband in better shape.

 
Jeff
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said this on
09 Oct 2008 9:13:05 PM PDT
Very good information, but I would like to hear more. What are the best sources for soluble and insoluble fiber? I assume that the flax seed that I take is insoluble fiber.

 
suzanne Durland
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said this on
10 Oct 2008 1:41:54 PM PDT
Wonderful information all in one place, thank you.

 
Christine Levine
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said this on
03 Jan 2009 2:29:16 PM PDT
I appreciated the article. When I first started on a gluten free diet, I tried using cookbooks that used many ingredients like white rice flour and potato starch. I thought most of them tasted like they were missing the wallpaper. Since then, I have been using a lot of sorghum and brown rice flour - they work much better and taste more like what I used to eat.

I wish there were cookbooks available that included more than just a small handful of the alternative grains.

 
Sally
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said this on
05 Aug 2010 3:06:45 PM PDT
Great information. So many of the prepackaged gluten-free flour mixes contain only the brown rice for extra fiber and protein. I know mixing in the others was better and tastier---but having the comparison chart was very helpful.

 
fiona
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said this on
03 Nov 2010 1:20:28 PM PDT
Thanks, Have just started going gluten free and was looking for just such an article.

 
Rose Hilgartner
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said this on
27 Sep 2013 9:36:39 PM PDT
I wish they would provide a nutritional chart of all the gluten free flours, so you can figure the calories and nutrition of homemade foods all in one small chart.

 
Debbie Eads
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said this on
29 Jul 2016 9:58:36 AM PDT
I'm happy to find your site as I am just starting on a gluten free diet. I've always loved whole grain wheat and have been a bread lover. I have GERD and I am gluten intolerant. It seems I have trouble too with high fat foods. Thank you for this information, I 'm looking forward to learning from it.




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JMG got it down pretty much, the painful and gluten effects from eating it should clear up in a month, damage symptoms you might notice some differences as early as 2-4months but most do not noticed major improvements til about 6 months to a year. I have been gluten-free for over 3 years all my villi have healed according to the doctor on my last scope. It is very important to not cheat and avoid any kind of CC as it can set you back weeks or months. I would suggest a whole foods only diet for the first month or two, no dairy, simple stews, soups, etc. make for easy to digest and simple meals. Check out the 101 thread for some good information. PS a new combo crockpot, steamer, rice cooker combo and liners for a crock pot will be a life saver for making simple meals and easy clean ups. Quick cook microwave ware will also be handy making sure you have gluten-free cooked meals if you can not get new cookware immediately. I normally suggest cleaning out the entire house, scrubbing down knobs, handles, on the drawers, sink, fridge, cubbards etc. throw out condiment jars, checking ingredients on everything in the house including your hygiene and makeup. Putting in drawer organizers for new utensils, throwing out scratched glass, teflon, plastic, and steel cookware. Throwing out any Tupperware, and cutting boards, some utensils that can not be cleaned well. Some times you can save cast iron and stainless steel cook ware if you can run it in your ovens cleaning cycle over 600F. Gluten is a protein like blood if you can not clean a item where a CSI team will not find it give it up, it is not a germ that can be killed with disinfectant. I use freezer paper for clean prep surfaces, also makes clean up a breeze, I tend to use gloves alot also when fixing foods,

Hi Allie and welcome First off, I know 3 years was a long wait, but at 17 you've figured out celiac way before many people do. That should make a big impact on minimising its effects and helping you with the diet, so, bizarrely enough, congratulations! A lot of good advice has been brought together in this thread: Don't worry that your symptoms are bad now. As you follow the diet your body will begin healing itself and you're still very young so hopefully this will go really smoothly. Think in terms of the next 6 months rather than weeks however, recovery will likely take a little time. Eat as healthily as you can, lots of whole foods and try to avoid the gluten free processed substitutes as your digestive system needs all the help it can get at this moment. You may want to avoid dairy as well for now and think about reintroducing it later. This site has been really helpful to me and others. I hope you find it just as useful. Best of luck! ps, your increased reaction to gluten during the challenge phase was perfectly normal. Many find that reintroducing it much worse than the initial affects and take some time to get over the challenge. That's why you'll see lots of posts here urging folks to 'stay on gluten' till their testing is complete!

Hi! My daughter is 19 was diagnosed at age 16. It took about 12-18 month s for her to fully heal from the damage and feel "normal" again. Also because of the damage done she had reactions to dairy, so you may want to try no or minimum dairy until youre fully healed. Just a suggestion. Hope you start feeling well soon!

Hi yall! New to this blog, but really glad it exists because I have lots of questions. First off, I'm Allie! I'm 17 and newly diagnosed Celiac after about 3 years of searching for answers. I initially went gluten-free on the recommendation of a friend, I felt better in about a month and then my pediatric gastroenterologist had me do the gluten challenge, and my symptoms were the worst they have ever been, and ones I barely noticed before became very present. I did the biopsy and was diagnosed, it's been about 2 weeks and my symptoms are still pretty bad, although my diet has no known sources of gluten or cross contamination. Wondering if anyone has any input on healing post gluten challenge, any tips or how long it took for you would be quite helpful! Thanks

Might want to look into a keto diet, I have UC on top of celiacs and keto is working great Yeah I have major nerve and brain issues with gluten, gluten ataxia with nerve issues and brain issues. Seems to cause my body to attack my brain and nerve system. My brain stumbles fogs, and starts looping, the confusion causes me to become really irritable, I call it going Mr Hyde. Like my mind will start looping constantly on thoughts and not move driving me literally mad, or it used to. Now days it is primary the numbness anger but the gut issues and sometimes random motor loss limit me motionless to the floor now days for the duration of the major anger effects. Used to be a lot more mental then painful gut. I did a mental trauma post on it on while back where I came out about all my mental issues with gluten.