All it took was one major study that showed that gluten intolerance was, in fact, a real issue for the entire world (it seems like it, doesn't it?) to go on a gluten-free diet. Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University and director of the GI unit at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, conducted that study in 2011 and has since revisited his findings with a more aggressive and controlled approach. The second time around, Gibson found the opposite of his initial study: Subjects reported gastrointestinal distress without any clear physical cause. These findings show that gluten was not the root of the problem, but that gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity might actually be psychological.
Many registered dietitians like Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., Kashi nutrition partner and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen, will caution against self-diagnosis when it comes to gluten intolerance. Cutting out gluten means you are cutting out essential nutrients from your diet, which can cause a deficiency if you aren't careful to replace them with other foods. Amidor shared six good-for-you gluten-filled foods that you should be eating regularly. Just because they contain wheat doesn't mean they are bad for you.
"This earthy and slightly sweet tasting grain is one of the oldest cultivated," says Amidor. "It is an excellent source of fiber, providing 24% of your daily recommended amount in 1 cup cooked. Barley also contains beta-glucans, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol and help your immune system." Use barley in place of pasta in dishes like soup. It's a less processed, whole grain alternative, but still provides the same experience. If you need some inspiration, try this veggie-filled mushroom barley soup from Kashi.
It's likely you've never heard of this grain before, but take a moment to familiarize yourself with it. "This cross between durum wheat and rye dates back to 1875," says Amidor. "It tastes very similar to wheat with a heartier texture similar to rye. Triticale's hybrid nature means it’s more robust and higher in protein. It also contains the amino acid lysine, which is often not present in other grains and necessary to create a complete protein source." Some cereals, like Kashi, contain the grain.
Farro sort of looks like every other grain, but the nutty-tasting Italian-born grain does contain its own host of health benefits. One cup cooked packs 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. It's also rich in vitamins A and E and contains minerals such as magnesium and iron.
"This quick-cooking form of whole wheat originated in the Mediterranean region and has been around for thousands of years, says Amidor. "It’s packed with energy-boosting B vitamins such as niacin, folate, thiamin, and vitamin B6. It's also is a good source of iron, providing 10% of the daily recommended amount." Bulgur is actually the main ingredient in Tabouli. Test out this delicious Harissa-Lemon Chicken and Mint Tabouli salad for starters.
Spelt has a slightly nutty flavor that resembles whole wheat. One popular and relatively easy way to consume spelt is by using spelt flour in baked goods. One cup contains 8 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein, giving your body the fuel it needs to build muscle and stave off hunger. "It's also an excellent source of niacin, providing 25% of your daily recommended amount, and a good source of thiamin, providing 13% of your daily recommended amount."
These Japanese breadcrumbs are made from whole wheat bread, but are a bit larger and crispier than traditional breadcrumbs. Amidor recommends using them for baking meat and fish as a healthy alternative to frying.