Gluten-Free “Super” Foods

by | G+ Amy Leger

People are often looking for a way to improve their overall diet and their health through food. There are many claims being passed along through the internet, so I thought I would take some time to not only look at them as a so-called super food but also through the eyes of a celiac.

Acai berry

Courtesy: acaiberrystudies.com

Courtesy: acaiberrystudies.com

The acai (pronounced ah-sah-EE) berry is everywhere. The marketing machine is going overtime on this one. It’s not that it doesn’t have health benefits…it does, but with all the marketing and advertising on this product you would think it is a cure-all.

First, the acai is gluten-free -since it’s a fruit. But if you get into funky mixtures that include the berry, you should always check the ingredients or call the manufacturer.

Second, it is not a cure-all. But it does have major antioxidant properties (anthocyanins and flavonoids) from which we all can benefit. According to WebMD, “Theoretically [possible antioxidant activity] may help prevent diseases caused by oxidative stress such as heart disease and cancer.”

Getting the benefit without the berry: “Anthocyanin is in blueberries, red grapes, red wine and acai – all have colors ranging from deep purple to black,” according to WebMD. So it is possible that eating the other foods could give you a similar antioxidant benefit. And it may be cheaper. It appears the cost of acai berry supplements range roughly from $35 to $50 for a one-month supply.

As for any claims you see that acai products help celiac, Crohn’s or gluten intolerance. One article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal said some acai customers say it has helped them. One nutrition store owner in Florida told the News-Journal acai is a “digestive aid and can act as a preventative [measure] to keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control.” Just a reminder, the only thing that will help your celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. That is a fact.

Wheatgrass

Courtesy: www.healthyjuicer.com

Courtesy: www.healthyjuicer.com

Wheatgrass is the leaf of wheat that many people add to drinks to help them get a serving of vegetables. The name certainly would imply that a celiac should stay far, far away. But I stumbled on a recent articles that explain what wheatgrass is and why it MAY be safe for celiacs.

Both the University of Virginia Health System, a celiac forum and a recent blog post by Love and Blueberries all cited this Q and A that Registered Dietitian Cynthia Kupper with the Gluten Intolerance Group had with a celiac patient. It is a clear explanation of the “gray” area that you may find when it comes to whether wheatgrass is gluten-free.

“According to information from USDA research chemists, specializing in wheat gluten and cereal proteins and a statement from the American Association of Cereal Chemists, gluten is found only in the seed kernel (endosperm) and not in the stem and grass leaves. If the grass is cut from a growing plant and does not include the seed kernel, it should be safe for persons with gluten intolerance to use…” Cynthia Kupper, MD CD

But there is a concern of cross contamination and a question of how can you guarantee the kernel hasn’t been avoided?  You probably can’t.   Kupper later added, “Bottom line is that I would stay away from it at this time and eat more fruits and vegetables!”

The Celiac Sprue Association also supports this verdict. On their website they recommend to stay away from it as there is “no research available on the gluten content of this product.”

Other super foods: most are gluten-free

WebMD listed 10 superfoods everyone should be eating.

• Beans
• Blueberries
• Broccoli
• Oats
• Oranges
• Pumpkin
• Salmon
• Soy
• Spinach
• Tea (green or black)
• Tomatoes
• Turkey
• Walnuts
• Yogurt

There are really only three items on this list to really be worried about. The first is oats. Make sure you buy certified gluten-free oats. Yogurt is the other: gluten is in some, but not all. And turkey: turkey can be injected with broth that could have gluten in it.  You will want to check with the manufacturer to ensure these three items you are purchasing are gluten-free.

So on this list I notice no acai berry (but it does have the aforementioned blueberry) and no wheatgrass. Looks like all you really need is a long trip to the produce section plus a few other stops to find superfoods at the super market.

One Response to “Gluten-Free “Super” Foods”

  1. Amy, can you please explain the difference between soy and soy sauce which contains wheat.

    I looked at Kosher Hotdogs one day – Hebrew National contains soy – Sabrett does not, but I am confused if the soy in hotdogs is ok.

    Thank you so much.

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