Whole Grain Alternatives for the Wheat-Allergic and Gluten-Intolerant
An allergy to wheat and wheat products is a serious matter in American society. And, while there are individuals whose systems cannot handle gluten, it is also a growing dietary intolerance of the moment. Either way, a lot of people don’t want to consume wheat products. But even without wheat, it’s still possible to get your share of whole grains. Some, though not all, forms and varieties of wheat may work.
Bulgur, durum and grano cannot be tolerated by either wheat or gluten allergies.
Kamut: Bob Quinn of KANA says that khorasan wheat, trademarked under the brand name Kamut, contains gluten, but is acceptable to 70% to 80% of those who are wheat-allergic.
Spelt, sometimes called farro, contains gluten; but not gluten identical to that in bread wheat. Some people sensitive to wheat can tolerate it (not those with celiac disease, however).
Barley, rye and triticale (a wheat/rye hybrid) all contain gluten.
Oats: The Whole Grains Council reports that oats, while inherently gluten-free, are often “contaminated” with wheat or residue from it during growing or processing. Remarking on this, Mr. Quinn stated that gluten sensitivity can be so great that even a very minimal contamination can make a sensitive individual quite ill. As is the case with those who have nut allergies, it’s extraordinarily difficult to remove every trace of gluten from a facility that processes wheat as well as oats. However, the Council lists two brands, Cream Hill Estates and Gluten-Free Oats, which guarantee oats with no traces of gluten in them.
What else can you eat?
Whole grains: You should also be able to consume amaranth, teff, sorghum (a.k.a. milo or jowar), buckwheat (which isn’t related to wheat), corn, quinoa, Job’s tears* and millet, among others.
Rice. White rice is not whole grain; but many of the other “rices of color,” including Bhutanese red rice, Black Japonica (also called “Forbidden Rice”), Brown Jasmine and Brown Kalijira, are. See our Rice Glossary for an overview of all that’s available (much is available as organic rice, too).
Wild rice, which technically isn’t a rice at all, is whole grain and gluten-free.
A rice salad made with black “Forbidden Rice.” Photo courtesy of Lotus Foods.
An excellent way to find many of these grains is online, or in a good natural foods store.
*Job’s tears is a grain from East Asia, now grown in the southern U.S. It is often sold as Chinese pearl barley, although it is not a member of the barley family.
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