Rx…Gluten-Free Grains Pack a Nutritious Punch

Rx…Gluten-Free Grains Pack a Nutritious Punch

May is Celiac Awareness Month, so let’s take a look at the health benefits of some delicious and nutrient-packed gluten-free grains.  I want to focus on quinoa, oats and brown rice in their whole grain state, which maximizes their vitamin and mineral content.

Quinoa, oats, and brown rice provide four or more grams of protein per serving, with oats and quinoa leading the way at six to seven grams per serving — that’s as much protein as an egg!  When combined with beans or legumes, these grains pack an amazing protein punch and provide all the essential amino acids your body needs.

Next up is dietary fiber.  Again, oats and quinoa lead the way with five to six grams of fiber per serving.  Fiber is important as it aids digestion and lowers blood sugar and insulin release.

There is no shortage of protein or fiber in any of these gluten-free alternatives, so let’s focus on what makes each one special:

  • Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, and is a “complete protein.”  This means it has all nine of the essential amino acids the body needs to survive.  This is unusual of any plant and is why it should be a staple of any plant-based diet.  Quinoa is also rich in the amino acid Lysine, which is important in tissue growth and repair.
  • Oatmeal/Oats are famous for lowering LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).  Oats provide special fiber content called beta-glucan, which minimizes the amount of LDL absorbed in our bloodstream.  Oats are also rich in antioxidants called avenanthramides, which prevent free radicals from oxidizing LDL, thus reducing the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Brown Rice trails the pack in fiber and protein content, but leads the way in the antioxidant Manganese, which helps the body synthesize fatty acids (thus protecting the nervous system) and also protects the body against damaging free radicals.  Brown Rice is also high in Selenium (one serving has over 80 percent of your daily requirements), which has been shown to have anti-cancer benefits, especially against colon cancer.

If you are eating a plant-based diet for better health, you need to make diverse, nutrient-rich choices.  All three of these grains are unique in their nutritious benefits and should have a place on your plate every day.

Dr. Weinstein’s Orders…Bring Quinoa, Oats and Brown Rice to the table every day!

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