Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gluten-Free But Not Fiber-Free

Going gluten-free is one of the fastest growing diet and lifestyle trends.  Many people, with celiac disease or not, have attested to feeling better when eliminating gluten from there diet.  And while there may be health benefits for many by gluten-free, one thing may be eliminated from your diet: fiber.

While reading one of my favorite blogs, Eat and Run (two of my favorite things), I came across a post about the lack of fiber in many gluten-free products.  Your typical "gluten-free replacements"foods, like  store-bought gluten-free pastas, crackers, breads, and pastries, contain significantly less fiber than their gluten-filled counterparts. Getting the daily recommended amount of fiber is essential for heart-health, digestion-health, and maintaining lower cholesterol.  

There are, however, plenty of healthy ways for people to get the daily recommended serving of fiber and reap the benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle.  Tamara Duker on the Eat and Run site offers some great tips; here are a few:

  • Use almond flour: When doing your gluten-free baking, try replacing some of your starchier flours like rice, tapioca, or sorghum with almond flour.  You can not bake with almond flour alone, as it is too heavy and gritty, but replacing some of your flour with an almond flour will add fiber and protein to your baking.  Try my recipe for cinnamon-honey pancakes using almond flour.
  • Try Gluten-Free Oatmeal:  Tamara points out on her post that 1-cup of cooked, gluten-free oatmeal, 1/2 cup uncooked, yields 4 grams of fiber.  Oats are not only an excellent source of fiber, they are great for lowering cholesterol.  Try replacing your store-bought gluten-free cereal with gluten free oats.  Check out my recipe for gluten-free granola using gluten-free oats.
  • Snack on Popcorn: Instead of snacking on gluten-free crackers, try making some air-popped popcorn, my favorite snack, instead.  Air-popped popcorn is not only loaded with fiber, 3 grams per cup, but it is also low in calories and fat.  But beware of microwave popcorns; they can be loaded with artery-clogging saturated and trans-fats.  And make sure your system can tolerate corn.  Some people with celiac disease will also have trouble digesting corn.
  • Try a gluten-free supplement: If all else fails, try a gluten-free fiber supplement.  Citrucel and Metamucil powder and capsules are both gluten-free.
Looking for more tips?  Check out the rest of the Eat and Run blog post here.

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