The Western diet is rich in wheat products, such as breads, pastas and pastries. Wheat is also added to many processed foods. Unfortunately, a large share of the population experiences negative health effects when eating wheat gluten. Anyone facing gluten intolerance or sensitivity can turn to gluten-free superfoods as an ideal wheat substitute.
Even if you don’t have Celiac disease or a wheat allergy, you may be suffering from gluten sensitivity. It is a common ailment with many negative reactions. These include digestive issues, skin disorders such as acne or eczema, inflammation, attention deficit, and even anxiety and depression. Oftentimes, if you stop eating foods with gluten, these negative effects will improve.
Finding the Perfect Wheat Substitute
Luckily, we are learning new ways that we can reduce the effects of gluten intolerance. First, you can opt for wheat foods with less gluten. Dr. Josh Axe suggests soaking, sprouting, fermenting and lightly cooking wheat products to greatly reduce their gluten content.
Second, you can start using einkorn wheat. Farmers have harvested einkorn for over 10,000 years. It is highly nutritious and doesn’t contain the gluten peptide that is in modern wheat. You can learn how to cook some delicious foods with einkorn in the book Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat.
Finally, there are several nutritious gluten-free superfoods that make the perfect wheat substitute. With these alternatives, you can still enjoy pasta, bread and baked goods, just without the gluten.
Teff is considered an up-and-coming superfood. It is a great wheat substitute. It is native to Ethiopia and grows well in dry climates. Moreover, it is versatile in cooking. Teff flour makes yummy desserts, pancakes and pastries.
Most importantly, teff has 50 percent more protein, five times the fiber, and 25 times more calcium than brown rice. As well, it offers a great combination of eight essential amino acids needed for the body’s growth and repair. In addition to calcium, it has high amounts of other minerals such as iron, phosphorous and magnesium. It is also high in Vitamin C.
It doesn’t matter if you think quinoa is a seed or a grain, this widely popular grain is a delicious and highly-nutritious substitute for modern wheat. Native to South America, it is one of the best sources of vegan protein. It is also high in calcium, fiber, antioxidants, essential amino acids and other nutrients.
Food producers are now offering pastas and flours made out of quinoa. In addition, cooked whole-grain quinoa makes a great side dish and acts as a substitute for pasta in an entrée dish.
Hemp seed is one of the best sources of easily-digestible vegan protein. It is also high in calcium, zinc, fiber, vitamin E and antioxidants. Finally, it offers all the essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as all ten essential amino acids.
You can use hemp flour and protein powder to make delicious brownies, energy bars and muffins. Remember, hemp food products are different from what you will find in medical cannabis baked goods. So, using hemp seed flour as a wheat substitute in your baked goods won’t get you high.
What About Brown Rice?
People perceive brown rice as a healthy alternative to wheat. Yet, nutritionally, it does not stack up to superfood status of the three foods mentioned above. In addition, brown rice is full of phytates and lectins. These substances bind to vitamins and minerals like zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, niacin and calcium, preventing them from being absorbed.
Overall, integrating einkorn, teff, hemp and quinoa into your diet and ditching modern wheat are a fantastic approach to improving your health.
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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