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Is Quinoa Gluten-Free? Yes, A Safe Pseudocereal For You

Spencer Cailas

is quinoa gluten-free

Pronounced “keen-wah”, Quinoa is a world-wide popular pseudocereal, known for its delicious versatile flavors and for having a rich nutrient profile.

Quinoa naturally become a staple for lots of people, as nutritionists and doctors recommends alternatives to gluten as they’re are an absolute must for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and other gluten related conditions.

Quinoa is one of many gluten-free foods often confused as a grain. Rice is gluten-free as well, but unlike quinoa which is a seed, rice is a grain. And easily the most consumed grain in the world.

Does quinoa have gluten, or is quinoa gluten-free?

Quinoa is a naturally gluten-free pseudocereal, so it does not contain gluten. Due to that, it serves as a perfect alternative to other grains that contain gluten.

Pseudocereal are non-grasses seeds that are often eaten, consumed or used the same exact way as cereals (which are ground into flour).

Examples of pseudocereal include:

  • Chia: A nutrient-dense kernels also known as a super-food, much like quinoa, it too has a nutty like flavor that’s high in protein, fiber, omega 3, and mostly identified by as “Salvia hispanica” aka chia.
  • Amaranth: Cultivated for thousands of years, with more than 60 species this ancient grain is rich in micronutrients, protein and fiber, having a high source of iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and other nutrients.
  • Buckwheat: Abundantly, and mostly consumed in asian countries for hundreds of years for it’s high source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids with no gluten and basicaly any calories and lowering cholesterol, going as far as improving digestion.
  • Breadnut: A fruit that’s grow in tropical areas, with a great number of nutritients considered essential to our health, for example it has more than the daily necessary vitamin C, and many other benefits.
  • Kaniwa: Also known as baby quinoa with a similar flavor and taste, it has a high amount of protein and amino acids, without the bitter saponins that’s natural to quinoa.

summary

Is Quinoa gluten-free? Yes, it’s a great alternative to whole grains, and other gluten containing foods.

Gastrointestinal Effects In Celiac Patients

In vitro data suggested that quinoa was not safe to be consumed by celiacs as it contains prolamins, a type of protein that is normally found in many grains.

The study concluded that 2 specific quinoa cultivars out of 15 tested positive for concentration of celiac-toxic epitopes that could potentially activate immune responses in some celiac disease patients[*].

Though the amounts were below the maximum permitted amount for foods considered to be gluten-free, but it would explain why a small amount of people report feeling sick after consuming quinoa, some are more sensitive than others.

Another study with 19 participants, lasting 6 weeks with patients (following a strict gluten-free diet who freely choose how to prepare and cook their meals) eating 50 grams of quinoa per day, while their health were tracked through kidney, liver and blood tests concluded that the condition was not exacerbated by the incorporated daily quinoa consumption[*].

As a safe alternative to other grains, and well tolerated by celiacs, it’s rich nutritional value makes it a perfect addition to ones diet and in helping reach daily nutritional requirements.

Cross-contamination

Normally when following a recipe you’re instructed to first and foremost, mostly to rinse the quinoa about to be cooked to remove it’s natural saponin coating which gives that nutty quinoa flavor, but also to avoid cross-contamination and situations alike from eating quinoa that have been processed or packaged in non gluten-free facilities.

At home, always wipe surfaces before and after cooking, serve food in different pans, pots and even utensils if necessary and most importantly, only buy quinoa that’s labeled/certified “gluten-free”.

Not all quinoa containing products are gluten-free, so store each in it’s own individual container, or leave it in the original packaging.

summary

Quinoa is safe for the majority of celiac patients, very few exceptions due to individual sensitivity, and be careful with cross-contamination.

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