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Gluten is the name given to a family of proteins found in grains. These grains each contain different gluten proteins; known structurally as prolamins. It is these prolamins, and their particular composition, that can trigger the allergic response or sensitivity associated with gluten.
Does grain free mean gluten free?
But if gluten comes from grains, surely it follows that eliminating grains from your diet automatically means it is gluten free. Unfortunately it is not that simple.
For a start, not all grains contain gluten. There are many choices when it comes to gluten free grains.
Gluten contamination – hidden gluten
But wheat is everywhere. It can be processed in the same place as your gluten free grains. In which case, cross contamination may occur. For the coeliac, the merest trace of gluten is enough to trigger a painful reaction. If your gluten free product does not state that has been certified gluten free, then there is every chance it has come into contact with gluten at some stage of its journey.
Wheat may be an unexpected ingredient. Just because you would not expect a product to have wheat in its ingredients does not mean it has been made without wheat. So always check the label.
Then there are wheat derivatives, or wheat that has cross contaminated the ingredients of the ingredients. Sometimes the gluten won’t even be on the label.
A product that is certified gluten free will have been tested for gluten levels within the product and passed a certain benchmark. If it isn’t labelled gluten-free then there is every chance that gluten lurks somewhere.
Are oats gluten free?
And then there are oats. A point of confusion if ever there was one. Here’s the thing: oats have a very low level of gluten content, but are NOT technically Gluten Free. So in Australia oats cannot be marketed as gluten free. Strangely, in Europe, and in the USA, oats can be labelled as gluten free if they have not been cross contaminated by any traces of wheat or other potential sources of gluten.
But oats do contain prolamins. They are generally considered to be safe for those with gluten intolerance, but they are there and oats are NOT safe for coeliacs . You can find out more about the oat gluten avenin in our article ‘Gluten Free Oats Dont Exist’.
Which grains are gluten free?
When it comes to gluten-free grains there are many options. As standalone ingredients they provide great gluten free alternatives, yet rising demand has made gluten free products far more widely available. This means that you may find these grains listed on ingredients labels and it is always helpful to be able to identify them.
Is rice gluten free?
Yes, rice is gluten free. Brown rice is more nutritionally dense than white rice, yet white rice is important staple food that provides a cheap source of carbohydrate and protein. The husk of brown rice contains essential fatty acids that can help lower cholesterol, as well as fibre. Brown rice is a rich source of minerals, including magnesium which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels. Don’t forget other types of rice such as wild rice and red rice. They are both gluten free, and have impressive nutritional credentials.
Is quinoa gluten free?
Yes, quinoa is gluten free. Quinoa is not strictly a cereal grain, yet we group it amongst grains nonetheless. Regarded as a bit of a superfood, quinoa is not only packed with protein but contains all the essential amino acids, which is not unheard of but quite rare in the plant world. A great source of heart healthy omega-3 which is known to reduce LDL cholesterol, quinoa is also abundant in vitamin E and other antioxidant compounds. There are two types of quinoa; red and white. Red quinoa is a good source of anthocyanins, the antioxidant pigments that give red colour to plants.
Is buckwheat gluten free?
Yes, buckwheat is gluten free. Another grain that is not a true cereal, buckwheat (like rice) is is great for blood sugar control. A source of slow release carbohydrates, it also contains the duo of magnesium and manganese that regulate blood sugar levels. Buckwheat is also a rich source of fibre as well as essential amino acids. Another heart healthy gluten free grain, it is full of antioxidant phytonutrients. To prepare buckwheat, boil it like rice. It can also be sprouted and eaten raw.
Is maize gluten free?
Yes, maize is gluten free. Maize, also known as corn or sweetcorn, is actually a true cereal. Because we eat it in its fresh form, it is easy to think of it as a vegetable, but it is one of the world’s most abundant cereal grains. A gluten-free grain at that. In terms of the gluten question, think cornflour (and its variation masa harina) and corn flakes. Traditional stoneground masa harina, as oppose to the white powder we thicken gravy with, retains its rich nutrient content; including many B vitamins. Fresh sweetcorn contains soluble fibre that helps regulate blood sugar and also carotenoids that support eye health. And of course; popcorn.
Is millet gluten free?
Yes, millet is gluten free. Millet is a true cereal grain. A globally important food source, and not just for budgies, it is said to be one of the most easily digestible and least allergenic grains available. Rich in minerals and vitamins, high in protein, and a great source of fibre, millet may just be one of the most overlooked gluten free grains there is. It also contains tryptophan, the amino acid found in turkey and lettuce that helps promote restful sleep. Millet is sold as grains that can be soaked or roasted before boiling, and also as a flour. It can be sprouted for eating raw. And like many grains it can be popped or puffed.
Is sorghum gluten free?
Yes, sorghum is gluten free. Sorghum belongs to the same family as the millets, and is sometimes used (and even sold) interchangeably. It shares a nutritional profile with millet.
So, what grains do have gluten in them?
The gluten containing grains have all been part of the breadmaking repertoire for centuries. Barley and rye were being used long before it was discovered that wheat had particular properties that made it the ideal grain for baking. And THE staple food. It was advances in farming, processing, and manufacturing, that eventually rendered it unrecognisable, as well as possibly the most widely used commodity on Earth.
Is barley gluten free?
Barley does contain gluten proteins, known as hordeins. Barley is still unsuitable for those with gluten issues yet is considered to be far lower in gluten than wheat. It has a number of nutritional benefits, beyond a high fibre content, and is thought to support healthy gut bacteria. Some of the fibre content of barley is soluble, so it helps to maintain steady blood sugar levels and lower LDL cholesterol. Barley can be used as other grains, but is particularly beneficial when sprouted. Barleygrass is full of green goodness and antioxidants.
Is rye gluten free?
Rye also contains gluten, with prolamins known as secalins. Like barley it is not suitable for those with gluten issues, but does have lower levels of gluten than wheat. Rye is particularly good at controlling blood sugar levels and regulating the appetite. A nutrient dense, albeit gluten containing grain, rye has high levels of minerals, vitamins and antioxidant compounds.
Strictly speaking, most grains are ancient as they have been around since man first started cultivating crops. Many of the grains we now see as commonplace but until a few years ago were largely unheard of have been part of traditional diets for thousands of years.
But it is our mistrust of modern wheat that led us to seek out alternative grains. Even rye and barley, which both contain gluten, have seen an upsurge in popularity. Many believe that the huge rise in gluten intolerance can be attributed to the protein content of modern mass produced wheat. And it is this that has placed grains such as sorghum and buckwheat so firmly on the mainstream table.
Yet when we talk about ancient grains, what we are generally referring to is particular types of wheat. The wheat that we now cultivate bears little resemblance to the wheat that we once grew. Our efforts to increase yield and provide resistant crops have resulted in a plant that has a very different DNA to earlier strains of wheat. Modern wheat is shown to have far more gluten proteins in its genetic structure, and many feel that this is causing the rise of gluten sensitivity.
Ancient forms of wheat do contain gluten, yet the molecular structure is different to that of modern wheat.
Is spelt gluten free?
Spelt does contain gluten. An ancient variety of wheat, spelt is more robust and harder to refine than wheat. It contains more soluble fibre than modern wheat and is efficient at controlling blood sugar and lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Spelt has more protein than standard wheat and is a rich source of B vitamins and minerals. The grains can be cooked like rice and other wholegrains, and is readily available as flour. Even with its gluten content, spelt is more easily digestible than modern wheat.
Explore our full range of gluten free products, available to buy in bulk online.
This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Healthy Cereal Bulk Wholesalers”.
See original article:- Gluten Free Grains Guide
We all know that choosing a low sugar cereal is one of the best ways to enjoy a healthy breakfast. But what is sugar exactly, and why is it so bad for you?
What is sugar?
Sucrose is a sugar molecule found in all plants. Via the mechanism of photosynthesis, plants use the energy of the sun to make sucrose from carbon dioxide and water. It is the basis of all plant life.
So, all plants contain at least a little sugar. Sugar cane and sugar beet are the richest sources and we have extracted it commercially for centuries.
There are three simple sugar molecules. These are glucose, fructose, and galactose. More complex sugars are made by linking these simple sugars together. Sucrose is made from glucose and fructose. Lactose, the sugar in milk, is made up of glucose and galactose.
Most carbohydrate foods can be broken down into glucose, which is the unit of fuel for the human body. The basis of human life, if you like.
Why is sugar bad for you then?
A healthy lifestyle is consistently proved to be one based on moderation but the problems with sugar start when we eat too much. And that is really easy to do, especially when we are surrounded by overly processed foods. Sugar is everywhere, some of it more obvious than others, and breakfast cereals are one of the foods constantly under fire.
The biggest issue around sugar consumption is weight gain caused by excess calories. Which in turn can trigger a whole host of health problems.
How much sugar should we eat per day?
The recommended daily amount for sugar is less than 10% of total calorie intake. For a diet of 2000 kcal, that’s no more than 200 kcal from sugar per day. Which is roughly 50g sugar. You can already see how easily that equation fails to match up in terms of the average daily diet.
How much sugar is in breakfast cereal?
A lot of breakfast cereal is highly processed, made from refined grains, loaded with sugar and completely devoid of fibre. A sugar hit, straight to the bloodstream. But this is not limited to frosted flakes or cookie crunchies. Many breakfast cereals that are marketed as healthy, or wholegrain, are still overladen with sugar and little else. Some breakfast cereals contain as much as 40% sugar. With portion sizes above average, you can eat your daily sugar allowance before the day has even begun.
Low sugar cereals
The standard advice for eating a healthy breakfast continues to go along the lines of some cereal, some milk, and some fruit. These groups of foods continue to show up, for a number of reasons, as the best way to start your day. There are plenty of low sugar cereals out there. A good granola, for instance, will be filled with healthy wholegrains, nuts, fruit and seeds. There will be some form of sweetness in there, such as honey, which is there to bind the ingredients as much as add sweetness. Be on the lookout for premium cereals – not all premium muesli or granola will be a low sugar cereal.
Aim for cereals with a high fibre content of 3% or more, and less than 5g sugar.
All of our healthy breakfast cereals are low in sugar, and packed full of the good stuff.
Natural sugar substitutes
As we have seen, when it comes to our metabolism sugar is pretty much sugar. Well, glucose. Sure, fructose and galactose are metabolised slightly different but you get the point. But the story does not end there. Natural sugar substitutes such as honey, date syrup, or coconut sugar all deliver far more nutrients than the empty calories of table sugar. Many of them taste sweeter than sugar, so less is used.
And sugar comes in different packages. As we have seen, it is present in all plants. But when you eat the plant, rather than extract the sucrose, you get everything else that goes with it. Water, fibre, vitamins and minerals. A little fat even. Fruit really is nature’s sweetener.
There are a few other things that taste sweet, without delivering a dose of glucose. Vanilla is a natural sweetener that just envelops everything in a comforting hug. Cinnamon is another one.
Is honey better than sugar?
Honey has so many virtues that it does not even deserve to be compared to table sugar. In terms of calories and the effect it has on metabolism, then yes it behaves in the same way as sugar. You still need to stick within the healthy eating guidelines for sugar consumption. But do you want empty calories, like those in sugar, or do you want a dose of micronutrients along with your glucose?
This article was reproduced on this site only with permission from parent co. operafoods.com.au the “Gourmet Online Wholesale Grocer”.
See original article here:- Make the Switch to Low Sugar Cereal
Are oats suitable for those on a gluten-free diet?
Most of us, at some point or another, have been told that oats are a gluten-free grain but, as they are often processed with grains that contain gluten, they cannot be considered suitable for a gluten-free diet. But that is not the whole story.
Before asking if oats are gluten-free, we first need to take a closer look at gluten…
What is gluten?
Gluten is the collective name we give to two types of protein that are found in wheat and other grains. These are prolamins and glutelins. Together, these proteins form a glue-like substance when flour and water are mixed.
It is the prolamins within the gluten that are most likely to cause sensitivity. The most common ones are gliadins in wheat, secalins in rye, and hordeins in barley. Oats also contain a prolamin protein. It is called avenin.
The structure of gluten varies amongst grains. It is why bread made with wheat flour is different to bread made only with rye, or barley. The structure of the prolamins also varies. This explains why some people may find wheat more inflammatory than other grains that contain gluten.
Are oats gluten-free?
So, do oats contain gluten? Strictly speaking, as they contain both glutelins and prolamins, yes they do. But the portion of the proteins that can cause allergy or sensitivity is far less than in wheat or other gluten containing grains, and their composition is somewhat different.
Are oats suitable for a gluten-free diet?
Avenin may, but not necessarily, cause a reaction in those with gluten intolerance or coeliac disease. If you do experience sensitivity to oats it may be specific to avenin, it may be triggered by contamination from other grains, or it may be both.
Cross contamination of gluten proteins can occur when oats are grown, transported, or processed, with other gluten containing grains. Oats that are labelled gluten-free have been tested and are certified free of gluten contamination. The tests however only measure for gliadin, secalin, or hordein. They do not include avenin. Here in Australia there is no gluten-free labelling for oats but they can be packaged as certified wheat-free.
Oats are an excellent source of nutrition and should not be dismissed lightly. An intolerance to avenin alone is not particularly common, so most people are fine with certified wheat-free oats.
What grains are gluten-free?
Although not all true grains, sorghum, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, corn and rice are all gluten-free.
Because of our strict labelling laws, if you buy gluten-free granola in Australia it should not contain oats. Oats is not technically gluten free and products sold as gluten free oats in Australia are breaking the law. (Oats, which is very low in gluten, is allowed to be sold as “Gluten Free” in the USA for example, but that does not help Coeliacs.)
That doesn’t make it any less delicious though. A lot of gluten-free granola is made with puffed grains such as rice or buckwheat, and crunchy nuggets of quinoa.
Should you Eat Gluten Free Products.
For most people the answer is a definite no. “The reality is, for most people, there is no benefit to gluten free products and in fact it may be to their detriment. Health professionals don’t like people to consume gluten-free product unless it is necessary. Because 98 percent of people simply don’t have gluten issues.” [from an article by Opera Foods 2017. “Misconceptions about Gluten Free Products“]
Whole grains, including the gluten grains wheat, barley rye and especially oats are loaded with nutrition and fibre and are health promoting. They are linked to reduced risk of: cancer, diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, and other chronic diseases. The fact is, a gluten free diet could be harmful.
Grain-free breakfast cereal
There are times when you want go further than gluten-free and need a grain-free breakfast cereal. Also you probably want a low sugar cereal breakfast. It isn’t easy to satisfy the sweet, milky, crispy crunch that only cereal and milk can give but the right combo of fruit, nuts and seeds can hit the spot.
So, although oats may be off the menu for some of us, there are still plenty of options when it comes to gluten-free granola or even grain-free cereal.
Check out our article on ‘what is a healthy breakfast‘ and find out why wholegrain cereal is the heart of a healthy breakfast.
A direct descendant of the acai bowl, the granola bowl (or smoothie bowl) is a refreshingly frosty bowl of breakfast goodness.
The key to the perfect granola breakfast bowl is of course good granola, and maybe a decent recipe or two. It can be tempting to throw the contents of the cupboard at the bowl in the name of good health, but a little restraint goes a long way. Mix and match your flavours and textures with a variety of bases, toppings and types of granola.
We have taken a basic frozen banana base and made it deliciously decadent with raw cacao. You can use any milk you like. For a more coconutty feel, you could even add some coconut cream. The crunch of granola goes so well against the creamy frozen base; try our honey and macadamia granola. Add an edge of bitter crunch with raw cacao nibs, and the creamy tones of fresh banana and coconut flakes. It tastes so good, and cacao is super good for you.
It can be tricky to get the perfect frozen texture, especially in a personal blender. The trick is to get it going first and once you have a smooth base, add more frozen banana to thicken it up. Leaving the frozen banana chunks to defrost for 15 minutes before blitzing really helps to get the perfect texture. You also need to work quickly and serve it before it melts. The contrast of temperatures and textures is so surprising though, especially if you have never experienced a smoothie bowl before.
Recipe for raw cacao, coconut and banana granola bowl
Frozen banana chunks, equivalent of 1.5 bananas
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
4 tbsp granola
1 tbsp cacao nibs
1 tbsp coconut flakes
1/2 banana, sliced
- Put half of the banana chunks in a blender with 1/2 cup of milk and blitz until smooth. At this stage it will be probably be quite runny.
- Add a little more milk, and the rest of the banana chunks, until it is thick and frosty.
- Blitz in the cacao powder.
- You should have something thicker than a smoothie but not as thick as nice cream.
- Transfer to a bowl, and top with granola, cacao nibs, coconut flakes and fresh banana slices.
- Eat immediately whilst still frozen.
The breakfast brigade falls into two camps. One called carbs and one called protein. Every morning they battle it out, one side crying out that carbs are evil whilst the other rallies against fat, meat and cholesterol. Its an age old argument and serves no purpose other than to highlight the fact that what we eat is a hugely personal thing. And therefore divisive.
As with most things, there are the extremes and there is balance. Two sides to every story.
We set out to investigate the battles behind breakfast, and here’s what we found to be the best components of a healthy breakfast.
The components of a healthy breakfast
For a start, not everything is black and white. The days of Atkins and a pound of bacon for breakfast are behind us. Even the Paleo crowd understand that the salt content of bacon and sausages makes them an “every other Sunday” special. Yet not all protein comes from animal sources, or with a hearty dose of salt and saturated fat, just as not all carbs will send you into a diabetic coma.
We researched dozens of articles and found that nutritionists, on the whole, agree on two things. The first is that refined carbs and sugar, excessive saturated fat, and salt have no place on the healthy breakfast menu. The second is that wholegrains, fruit and veg, proteins and healthy fats most definitely do.
The basic message is to include something from each of the five food groups.
What are the five food groups?
- Starchy foods – provide essential energy
- Fruit and veg – for vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals
- Dairy – a good source of calcium
- Protein – essential for growth and repair
- Fat – provides essential fatty acids
Yet within these groups some foods are better for our health and more nutrient dense than others. Refined carbs such as white bread and sugar will cause blood sugar and insulin levels to rise. With excess energy that is stored as fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet may lead to heart attacks and stroke, whilst excess salt can lead to water retention and cause a rise in blood pressure. Even vegans love bacon, which is why fake bacon exists, but you don’t want it as your daily driver.
So that basic message can be narrowed down a little further. Stick to foods as close to their natural state as possible.
So, what does a balanced breakfast look like?
According to most of the experts, a balanced healthy breakfast is composed of…
- A serving of wholegrains
- A portion, or two, of fruit.
- A serving of dairy, or other high calcium equivalent.
Additional fats and proteins can be added depending on your needs.
It varies, but on average that is 30g wholegrains, 150g fruit, and 100g yoghurt or 250ml milk. It turns out that cereal and milk for breakfast is a good thing.
Wholegrains are less refined than say white wheat flour or instant oats. With their natural structure more intact, they provide plenty of fibre and offer greater nutritional value. The fibre helps to slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream and encourages digestive transit. Some wholegrains, such as oats, contain soluble fibre that further lessens the impact on blood sugar.
Wholegrains include wholewheat, spelt, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, bulghur and brown rice. Collectively known as cereals, the group also contains some pseudo grains such as millet and quinoa.
One of the major components of a healthy breakfast, fruit contains fibre as well as lots of healthy vitamins, minerals, and a range of hugely beneficial phytochemicals. Yes fruit contains sugars, but packaged as they are in their natural unprocessed form the benefits outweigh the downsides. Fibre in fruit helps to slow down the uptake of sugars, as does the other components of a healthy breakfast.
Blueberries and raspberries, in fact all berries, are superfoods in their own right that work particularly well for breakfast. Bananas provide quick and slow release energy alongside essential vitamins and minerals. Grated apple, one of the ingredients of a classic Bircher muesli, is also good for breakfast.
With the rise of veganism, dairy is a bone of contention right now. There are alternatives available, with varying nutritional profiles, and we will discuss them at length in a further post. Suffice to say that dairy foods are still considered the number one dietary source of calcium, and non-plant protein. Especially when it comes to breakfast.
Milk and yoghurt go hand in hand with healthy breakfast cereals, providing not only calcium but vitamin A, D, and B vitamins as well as calcium, potassium and phosphorus. A source of essentially fatty acids, and protein, dairy foods do deliver for breakfast.
Protein is considered ideal for breakfast. Essential for growth and repair, it also keeps us feeling fuller for longer so less likely to snack in between meals. Eggs are an ideal source of protein for breakfast, and are great for switching it up when we have more time to prepare and linger over breakfast. A cooked breakfast of eggs means we can enjoy vegetables as a change from fruit, and have spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes without them feeling out of place.
You can of course eat anything you like at any time of day. The goalposts of breakfast have certainly moved. But one thing about breakfast is that for many of us it needs to be really quick and super easy. Which is why the cereal/fruit/dairy combo fits so well.
There are other ways to add protein to your breakfast. Some yoghurt has higher protein content than others. Nuts are also excellent sources of protein. Protein powders, both dairy and plant, are also popular.
Including healthy fats
Many of the ingredients in a good granola contain healthy fats, as do chia seeds and flax seeds. Adding nuts also increases intake of essential fatty acids as well as protein; why not try a spoonful of homemade nut butter with your breakfast?
Healthy breakfast cereal
When it comes to eating wholegrains for breakfast, for most of us that means breakfast cereal. We have already talked about refined carbs and sugars for breakfast, but watch out as some wholegrain cereals still come with a load of sugar. A healthy breakfast cereal has plenty of fibre and is low in added sugar. Look for high quality versions of granola and muesli, and try overnight oats or hot porridge. Variety really is key so try not to have the same thing everyday. Sometimes though, a routine is the only way that many of us get the nutrients we need. So if eating the same bowl of porridge with berries or granola with banana makes the difference between breakfast or no breakfast then totally have at it.
Is granola healthy?
A healthy granola such as our Roasted Almond Crunch, is a great breakfast for many reasons. Not least that it is quick and easy to prepare and to eat. The best granola does not have too much sugar, is usually oat based, and comes with plenty of other nutrient dense goodies. Watch out for those that have too much sugar, too much fat, and not enough of the good bits like nuts and extra fruit. You can also consider granola bars and bliss balls. Just aim to get a portion or two of fruit too okay? As demand increases, gluten-free granola is more widely available.
Is muesli healthy?
Muesli is essentially granola without the fat that is used to make it crunchy. Some healthy muesli may have less sugar than granola, or contain no sugar at all. But do read the label, some mainstream commercial muesli will contain sugar as well as milk powder. If it makes the milk sweeter and creamier then it probably does.
10 benefits of eating a healthy breakfast every day
- Breakfast restores energy levels. With more energy you are likely to move more throughout the day.
- Replenishes nutrient levels after the period of fasting whilst asleep.
- Eating breakfast makes it more likely you will reach your five a day.
- A healthy breakfast will help regulate hunger, preventing snacking through the morning.
- Breakfast is the easiest way to get more fibre into your diet.
- Increased focus. Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast enhances mental performance.
- Breakfast boosts metabolism so you burn calories more efficiently throughout the day.
- Your blood sugar levels will be more stable.
- Eating breakfast allows for better weight control.
- Increased vitality creates a positive feedback loop. Feel better. Be better.
It is not difficult to achieve the components of a healthy breakfast, in fact you are more likely to eat breakfast if it is quick and easy. Once you discover the benefits, you will have formed a healthy habit for life.