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KEY POINTS:

Consuming adequate dietary fiber is especially important for people on the gluten-free diet. Fiber: 1

  • Normalizes bowel movements by increasing the weight and size of your stool and by softening it. A bulky stool is easier to pass so there’s less chance of constipation. And if you have loose or water stools, fiber will absorb the water and add bulk to the stool. Some people on the gluten-free diet may have trouble with constipation due to inadequate fiber in their diet. 1
  • Helps maintain bowel health by lowering the risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. Researchers are studying how certain fermenting fibers may help prevent diseases in the colon.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, gluten-free oats and oat bran, and flaxseed may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber can help people, particularly those with diabetes, improve their blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber, as well, may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Aids in reaching a healthy weight. High-fiber foods take longer to chew so your body has time to register when you're no longer hungry. This leads to less overeating. A high-fiber diet increases the volume (or visual size) of a meal and lingers longer in your body so you stay full for longer. High-fiber diets also tend to have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
WHAT ABOUT FIBER SUPPLEMENTS?

Commercial fiber supplements can play an important role in getting enough fiber (or a particular kind of fiber) for some people. The health benefits of supplements have not been studied as well as dietary fibers and they may not have the same effect. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about using a fiber supplement if dietary fiber has not been successful for you. 2 Click here for a chart listing gluten-free fiber supplements.

WHY SHOULD I EAT GLUTEN-FREE WHOLE GRAINS?

Many gluten-containing grain products, such as whole grain breads and cereals, are made from whole grains, such as whole wheat and/or barley. They are typically high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. This is not necessarily the case with gluten-free grain products which are often prepared with refined flours and grains and are not enriched with vitamins and minerals.

By substituting the most common gluten-free grains and starches (white rice, potato and corn) with some of the gluten-free whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and millet, and high-fiber gluten-free breads and crackers, the nutrient content of your diet vastly improves. 3

Look for the word “whole” in the ingredients list. Example: “whole grain brown rice or whole quinoa.”
SPECIAL NOTES:
  1. Rotate these high fiber gluten-free grains into your diet. Select several at a time and keep them ready to use. Don’t rely on just one as your new wheat substitute since each one is high in specific vitamins and minerals.
  2. Some people are not able to tolerate moderate or high fiber diets due to certain medical conditions. Others may have an intolerance or allergy to one or more grains. If this is you, speak to your doctor or dietitian about how to balance your diet using other foods, such as starchy vegetables and tubers (turnips, parsnips, etc) and other sources of fiber.
DIETARY FIBER CONTENT OF SELECT FOODS
Flours and Starches 1 cup (weight in grams) Dietary Fiber (grams)
Garbanzo Bean Flour (Chickpea Flour) 120 20.9
Almond Flour 112 14.7
Buckwheat Flour (whole groat) 120 12.0
Brown Rice Flour 158 7.3
Grains and Cereals 1 cup (weight in grams) Dietary Fiber (grams)
Amaranth 195 18.1
Millet 200 17.0
Buckwheat Groats (roasted, dry) 164 16.9
Oat Groats (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free) 185 15.2
Beans, Lentils, Peas, Nuts & Seeds 1 cup (weight in grams) Dietary Fiber (grams)
Sesame Seeds (kernels, dried, decorticated) 150 17.4
Lentils (cooked) 198 15.6
Almonds (whole, blanched) 145 15.1
Pinto Beans (cooked) 171 14.7
Kidney Beans 177 13.1
Flax Seed 168 45.9
Flax Seed Meal (Ground Flax) 130 35.5
Fruits Serving Size Dietary Fiber (grams)
Raspberries 1 cup 8.4
Raisins 1 cup 6.6
Apricots (dried) 1/2 cup 5.9
Pear 1 medium 4.0
Apple 1 medium 3.7
Vegetables (cooked) Serving Size Dietary Fiber
Squash, acorn 1 cup 9.0
Peas, green 1 cup 8.8
Beans, green 1 cup 8.0
Carrots 1 cup 5.1
Broccoli 1 cup 4.5

Reference: Case, Shelley. Gluten-free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide – Revised and Expanded Edition . Case Nutrition Consulting, Regina.2008. Pg.105-109.

HOW CAN I ADD HEALTHY GLUTEN-FREE GRAINS AND STARCHES INTO MY DIET?

Note: Some of the recipe sites offer both gluten-free and gluten-containing recipes and ingredients.

WHERE DO I FIND THESE GLUTEN-FREE GRAINS? (BE SURE ALL PACKAGES AND PRODUCTS ARE CLEARLY LABELED GLUTEN-FREE.)
  • www.bobsredmill.com – Carries a whole line of gluten-free products from grains to flours to baking mixes.
  • www.teffco.com – Sells teff and teff flour and also provides recipes.
  • www.quinoa.net – Carry several types of quinoa products including flour, flakes, pasta, and polenta as well as black and red quinoa. This site also offers many recipes, tips, and ideas for cooking with quinoa.
  • www.glutenfreeoats.com – Sells certified gluten-free oats, oat flour and oat products.
  • www.thebloomfieldfarms.com – Provides many different types of gluten-free flours, recipes and tips.
HOW DO I STORE WHOLE GLUTEN-FREE GRAINS? 4
  • Whole grains are superior in nutrients but also have a shorter shelf life because they get rancid much more quickly than refined grains. Grains have range of fat content, varying their shelf life. 1
  • Store them in airtight containers in a cool, dark and dry environment to prevent the healthy oils from oxidizing for an extended period of time.
  • Most whole grains can be stored at room temperature for up to one year under these specific conditions.
  • Use millet and oats within 2-3 months of purchase.
  • Store whole grain flours in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or in the freezer for up to 1 year.
GLUTEN FREE WHOLE GRAINS STORAGE LIFE IN FREEZER (IN AIRTIGHT CONTAINER)
Buckwheat 2 months
Brown Rice 5-6 months
Brown Rice Flour 4-5 months
Cornmeal 4-6 months
Kernels or popcorn 1 year
Oats 3 months
Oat Flour 2 months

Reference: http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/storing-whole-grains

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LEGUMES? 5

Legumes are plants with a pod. To be specific, pulses are the edible seeds of legumes and they include:

  • Dry peas
  • Lentils
  • Dry beans
  • Chickpeas
  • They do not include fresh green beans or fresh peas.
  • While soybeans and peanuts are related to legumes, they are different because they have much higher fat.

Why are legumes so great in the gluten-free diet?

Eating legumes with gluten free grains, nuts or seeds provides high quality, complete protein. A complete plant-based protein is equal to animal protein. Among many other vitamins and minerals, legumes are high in potassium which regulates our fluid balance and blood pressure. Legume (or pulse) flour, such as chickpea flour, adds nutrition, fiber and good taste to gluten-free baked goods.

BENEFITS OF LEGUMES5
High in Low in Free of
Plant protein Sodium (salt) Trans fats
Soluble/Insoluble fiber Fat (virtually fat free) Cholesterol
Complex carbohydrates
Vitamins
Minerals

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SNACK AND MEAL IDEAS.

TAKE HOME MESSAGES:

  1. Eating your gluten-free grains, nuts or seeds with one or more of the legumes gives you complete protein. This combination is particularly important for vegetarians who rely on the plant world for their protein.
  2. Choosing high fiber gluten-free grains and products that are enriched with B vitamins and iron automatically boosts your nutrition.
  3. Don’t choose a single high fiber gluten-free grain to act as your new wheat substitute. Instead, rotate these new grains regularly into your diet to reap the specific nutritional benefits of each one.

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic. Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet. www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033. Accessed 2/25/13.
  2. The Benefits of Fiber for your Heart, Weight and Energy. www.webmd.com/diet/fiber-health-benefits-11/insoluble-soluble-fiber?page=2 . Accessed 2/25/13.
  3. Higgins, L. Whole Grains = Nutritional Gold. In Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten Free . Eds. Dennis M, Leffler D. AGA Press. Bethesda, MD. 2010.
  4. Gluten Intolerance Group. Grains. http://demo.bsoft.us/1180GIG/docs/default-source/educational-bulletins/whole-grains-flat-06-2011.pdf?sfvrsn=2
  5. Pulse Canada. Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet. www.pulsecanada.com/uploads/1f/a6/1fa6427f5a4ab9155512272c53080e21/11-Jan-31-Gluten-Free-Booklet---FINAL.pdf. Accessed 3/6/13.

Revision Date: 4-2-13 
Authors: Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN and Nicolette Taggart 
Editors: Anne Lee, MSEd, RD, LD and Daniel Leffler MD, MS

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