14 Healthy Whole Foods Including Gluten-Free Options!

The best healthy whole foods including gluten-free options are the staple grains they are among families all over the world. They have three parts: the bran (the nutritious outer layer), the germ (the nutrient-rich embryo of the seed), and the endosperm (the food supply of the germ, which is rich in starchy carbohydrates ) .

Whole grains are simply grains that have all three parts intact. They are typically rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, B vitamins and dietary fiber .

Interestingly, choosing whole grains over refined grains has been linked to lower risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes , cancer , and more.

Healthy whole foods including gluten-free options : 

1. Whole oats:

Oats are among the healthy whole foods including gluten free  that you can eat. Not only is it packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, it’s also naturally gluten-free .

In addition, oats are rich in antioxidants, especially avenanthramide. This antioxidant has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer and lower blood pressure.

Oats are also a great source of beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that aids digestion and nutrient absorption. An analysis of 28 studies found that diets rich in beta-glucans can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.

Just be sure to choose whole oats, such as steel-cut oats, oat groats, and oatmeal. Other types of oatmeal like instant oatmeal are more processed and may contain unhealthy added sugar.

2. Whole Wheat:

Whole wheat is a popular and incredibly versatile cereal, another one of the healthy whole grain foods . The same is a key ingredient in baked goods, pasta, pasta, couscous, bulgur and semolina.

Although wheat is very popular, it is also highly controversial due to its gluten content. Gluten is a protein that can trigger a harmful immune response in certain people.

However, if you belong to the majority of gluten-tolerant people, whole wheat is a great addition to your diet as it is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

Be careful to only select foods labeled “whole wheat” rather than just “ wheat .”

Whole wheat contains the whole grain, including the fibrous husk, bran and endosperm. On the other hand, regular wheat is stripped of the husk and bran, which are loaded with nutrients.

3. Whole rye:

Rye is a member of the wheat family and has been consumed for centuries. It is typically more nutritious than wheat and contains more minerals with fewer carbohydrates. That’s one of the reasons rye bread doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as wheat. This is also considered one of the healthy whole foods including gluten-free options.

Another reason is that rye flour is incredibly high in fiber – a 100-gram serving of rye flour provides 22.6 grams of fiber, which is 90% of an adult’s Daily Value (DV).

Research shows that dietary fiber can slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the gut, causing a slow but steady rise in blood sugar rather than spikes.

Rye flour comes in many forms, such as light, medium, dark, rye flour, and pumpernickel. Both the light and medium varieties are typically more refined and are not considered whole grains, while dark rye flour, rye bran, and pumpernickel flour are more likely to be whole grains.

That said, it’s best to look for the word “whole grain” in rye flour when shopping, as some manufacturers may add refined rye grain flour to the mix.

4. Buckwheat: 

While its name may try to fool you, buckwheat is unrelated to wheat, being another one of the healthy whole foods including gluten-free options.

It is a pseudo-grain, meaning it is a seed that is used similarly to grains. In addition, wheat seeds are packed with nutrients like manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and fiber. They are also naturally gluten-free.

Additionally, buckwheat husk is a great source of resistant starch, which is a type of dietary fiber that passes into the colon, where it feeds your healthy gut bacteria.

Research has shown that resistant starch can improve blood sugar control and digestive health and help with weight loss and heart health.

To cook buckwheat, just add one cup of groats (kernels) to two cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the groats boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.

5. Bulgur wheat (cracked wheat):

Bulgur wheat, commonly known as cracked wheat, is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and is one of the healthy whole foods including gluten-free options.

This whole grain is often added to soups, stuffed vegetables and salads like tabbouleh. It is prepared similarly to rice , but its texture is more reminiscent of couscous.

Bulgur has a low fat content and is packed with minerals like magnesium, manganese and iron. It is also a great source of fiber providing 8.2g or 33% of the DV per cup cooked (182g).

Research has linked a higher intake of bulgur and other whole grains to less inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease and cancers such as colorectal cancer .

However, bulgur wheat contains gluten, which makes it unsuitable for a gluten-free diet .

6. Millet:

Millet is an ancient grain, perhaps best known as an ingredient in birdseeds, and is also included among healthy whole foods including gluten-free options.

However, it has been a part of human cuisine for thousands of years and is considered a staple ingredient in India, China, Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria and other parts of the world.

Millet is incredibly nutritious and a great source of magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, B vitamins and fiber . It is also naturally gluten-free.

Research has linked millet consumption to health benefits such as reduced inflammation, lower blood triglycerides and better blood sugar control.

Although considered to be a grain, millet is a seed classified as a pseudo-grain. It is recognized as a whole grain because it is consumed in a similar way.

7. Whole barley:

Barley is a versatile cereal that has been consumed for thousands of years. While not as popular as other whole grains, it is incredibly healthy, being one of the healthiest whole foods including gluten-free options. 

Barley is available in two main forms: whole (or husked) barley and pearled barley. However, only husked barley is considered a whole grain since it is minimally processed.

Hulled barley is rich in minerals such as selenium, manganese, magnesium , zinc , copper , iron , phosphorus and potassium, as well as B vitamins and fiber.

One cup (148 grams) of whole barley flour provides 14.9 grams of fiber, or 60% of the recommended daily value for an adult. It is worth noting that barley contains gluten, so it is unsuitable for a gluten-free diet.

8. Spelled:

Spelled is an ancient whole grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years and can also be defined as one of the healthy whole foods including gluten-free options Nutritionally, spelled is similar to whole wheat and a rich source of manganese , magnesium, phosphorus , zinc, iron , B vitamins and fiber.

In addition, it has slightly more zinc and protein compared to whole wheat, however spelled contains antinutrients such as phytic acid which can reduce the absorption of zinc and iron from your intestines.

This is not a major concern for adults on a balanced diet, as other foods provide more zinc and iron, however it can be a problem for vegetarians and vegans.

Fortunately, you can reduce antinutrients by sprouting, fermenting, or soaking the beans. It is also important to note that spelled contains gluten and is therefore unsuitable for a gluten-free diet.

9. Quinoa:

Quinoa is a South American grain that has been considered a superfood, and is also one of the  Healthy Whole Foods. This ancient grain is packed with more vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and fiber than popular grains like whole wheat, oats and many others.

Quinoa is also a great source of antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol, which can neutralize potentially dangerous molecules called free radicals. These molecules have been linked to chronic diseases like chronic inflammation, heart disease and cancers.

Additionally, quinoa is among the few plants that provide complete proteins, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. This makes it a great choice for vegetarians and vegans.

Although people call quinoa a grain, it is actually a pseudo-grain – a seed that is nutritionally similar and consumed similarly to cereal grains .

10. Brown Rice:

Brown rice is widely recognized as a healthier alternative to white rice, so it is among the  Healthy Whole Foods.  

This is because it is a complete grain, meaning it contains the entire grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Meanwhile, white rice removes the bran and germ.

As the bran and germ are rich in nutrients, brown rice contains more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – 3.5 grams of cooked brown rice provides 1.8 grams of fiber, while 3.5 grams of white rice provides just 0.6 grams of fiber .

Brown rice is also naturally gluten-free, which makes it a great carbohydrate choice for a gluten-free diet.

Research has linked several compounds in this grain to some impressive health benefits.

For example, brown rice contains lignans, which are antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing blood pressure , inflammation, and “bad” LDL cholesterol .

11. Corn:

Corn (Zea mays) is an incredibly popular whole grain, because of that it is among healthy whole foods including gluten-free options  In addition, it is a staple food around the world and is grown in greater quantities than wheat and rice.

All unprocessed corn is rich in manganese, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, potassium, B vitamins and antioxidants . It is also naturally gluten-free.

Corn contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are abundant antioxidants in yellow corn. Several studies have found a link between these antioxidants and a lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two of the leading causes of blindness.

What’s more, corn contains a good amount of fiber. One cup (164 grams) of cooked yellow corn provides 4.6 grams of fiber, which is 18% of the DV.

12. popcorn:

Popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can eat. It is a special type of corn that appears at high temperature. Corn kernels contain a small amount of water, which turns to steam when heated and causes the kernels to explode.

Most people don’t realize that popcorn is a whole food, but it is and is among healthy whole foods including gluten-free options  It is rich in important nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus and many B vitamins.

What’s more, popcorn is incredibly high in fiber – 100 grams provides 14.5 grams of fiber or 58% of the DV.

Popcorn is best prepared on your stovetop or in an air popper. Avoid buying pre-packaged microwave popcorn bags as they can contain potentially harmful chemicals.

Additionally, some commercially prepared varieties can be smothered in large amounts of unhealthy fats, salt, artificial flavors, or sugar , turning this healthy snack into something very unhealthy.

13. Wholemeal breads:

Whole grain bread products are an easy way to add healthy whole foods including gluten free options  to your diet. They are widely available and come in many varieties such as whole grain breads, rye breads, whole wheat breads, whole grain bagels, tortillas of whole grains and others.

A particularly healthy whole-grain bread is Ezekiel’s bread, which is made from a variety of whole grains such as wheat, millet, barley, and spelled , as well as various vegetables.

Also, the grains and pulses in this bread are sprouted, meaning they have been soaked in water to germinate. This increases nutrient content and reduces antinutrients commonly found in whole grains.

One thing to note is that many whole wheat breads are made from wheat grains that have been pulverized, which diminishes the beneficial effects of whole grains. So if you buy whole-grain breads, it’s best to choose ones with visible grains or seeds.

14. Wholemeal pasta:

Whole grain pasta is made from whole grains. That’s why they have more vitamins, minerals and fiber than regular pasta. For example, whole grain spaghetti has 2.5 times more fiber than regular spaghetti.

Thanks to the higher fiber content , wholemeal pasta tends to be more filling. However, they are made from whole wheat flour that is pulverized.

This diminishes many of the beneficial effects of whole grains, which means that wholegrain pasta isn’t as healthy as whole- whole foods like quinoa and brown rice .

Useful links: 

However, if you choose to eat pasta, it is better to choose whole grains over regular, as the former contains fewer calories, more nutrients, and has more fiber .

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