Choose Gluten-free Quinoa

Gluten intolerance can be a serious problem and requires a change in diet for stricken individuals in order to live healthy lives.

To make this health issue easier to understand – gluten is a protein ‘glue’ composite found in most grains. Gluten gives dough elasticity and creates problems in the digestive tract of some people.

Image by TLFurrer
Image by TLFurrer

The official name for gluten intolerance is Celiac Disease. If you have this condition and eat foods that contain gluten, the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed and eventually damaged. The inflamation makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which leads to malnutrition and weight loss.

Because of the seriousness of this condition, it is important to transition to a gluten-free diet, which can be challenging since grains of all kinds are used in many, many products found at the supermarket. Fortunately, today, there are many gluten-free products available and among those is one very shiny star – gluten-free quinoa.

When you understand the composition of quinoa, it is easy to understand why it is a good alternative for wheat and other grains.

Quinoa is a seed, which makes its structure completely different than grain and it contains no gluten.

There is also no reason to be concerned about cross-contamination from air-borne wheat or other grains. The world’s quinoa supply is primarily grown in Bolivia at an elevation of over 12,000 feet, where gluten-bearing grains cannot be grown. There is absolutely no danger of cross-contamination.

Why Quinoa Is a Good Gluten-free Choice

  • Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein
  • It seems to be easier for the body to digest than most other plant-based proteins. It has a similar protein structure to milk, which the bodies utilizes well. Milk intolerance is typically from the lactose content – not from the protein structure.
  • Quinoa protein is excellent fuel for the body to keep it going strong.
  • It is a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6, the essential fatty acids our bodies and brains needs to function correctly.
  • It is also a rich source of Vitamin E, antioxidants, folate, and B vitamins.
  • It is high in manganese and magnesium – two minerals that are important for a healthy immune system and used to synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol.
  • It has increased levels of iron and copper, which are critical for a healthy blood supply.
  • Finally, quinoa contains phosphorus, zinc, and a little calcium.

Challenges of a Gluten-free Diet

A big challenge is limiting the intake of carbohydrates because of the heavy use of rice as a replacement for wheat products. This is where quinoa can be of value.

A cup of cooked white rice has 44 net grams of carbs (carbs minus dietary fiber.) A cup of cooked brown rice has 41 net grams of carbs. When you compare this to a cup of cooked quinoa at about 34 net grams of carbs, eating quinoa makes good sense; plus, you are getting the benefit of the additional nutrients (especially the protein) found in quinoa that rice does not contain.

In Summary

There are many reasons to make quinoa your “go-to” food on your gluten-free diet beginning with boosting your nutrition by increasing the protein, healthy fats, and maintaining a healthy blood supply – plus reducing your carbohydrate intake

Making the transition to a gluten-free diet can be easy when you choose quinoa as a staple in your diet.