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Wheat

Whilst it is possible for the body to develop a sensitivity or intolerance to any food or drink item there are certainly those, which are very common.

Wheat is found in items using wheat flour or the wheat grain itself such as bread and bread products, pasta, biscuits, crackers, cereal, cakes and pastry products. It is also often used as a thickener so can be found in soups, sauces, stews and processed meals. It can also be found in beer, ale and lager. 

Wheat-free is often confused with gluten-free. Wheat does contain the protein gluten, but removing just wheat from the diet is less restrictive than the removal of gluten as grains such as barley, rye and oats can still be eaten.

There are a number of different types of wheat; wheat berries, durum wheat, bulgur wheat, kamut, emmer or farro, khorosan, einkorn and spelt. All of which should be avoided if a person has celiac disease or allergy to wheat, however with wheat sensitivity often less-common varieties of wheat are more readily and easily digested. These include einkorn, emmer, spelt and khorosan wheat. The fermentation of wheat in sourdough can also aid digestion for some. 

The removal of wheat from the daily diet has been greatly facilitated by the wide range of wheat-free grains, which are produced for manufacturing and available in grocery stores and online. There are many excellent alternatives to those products traditionally made with wheat like bread, pasta, cookies and biscuits, crackers and cereals. There is also a plethora of wheat-free recipes in specialist cookbooks and on the Internet.

The wheat-free grains below are used in wheat-free products but can also be found in flour or flake form for home baking or cooking:

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn (or maize)
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Sorghum

Wheat-free products include:

Flour

  • Almond
  • Arrowroot
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Coconut
  • Cornmeal (maize)
  • Garbanzo
  • Millet
  • Oat
  • Potato
  • Rye
  • Sorghum
  • Teff

Bread and bread products

  • Almond
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Rye
  • White rice

Cereals

  • Cornflakes
  • Oatmeal
  • Granola

Pasta

  • Buckwheat
  • Chickpea
  • Quinoa
  • Red lentil
  • Rice

Nutrition

Whole wheat is a nutritious grain containing vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folic acid, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, copper and iron. It is also rich in dietary fibre.

However the nutrient value of wheat does depend upon the type you eat and the soil it was grown in. Whole wheat for example offers far greater nutrient value than bleached white flour. To produce bleached white wheat flour as much as 40% of the original grain is removed, including the bran and germ of the wheat, which are the most nutrient-rich parts. This means the loss of over half the vitamin B1, B2, B3, folic acid, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and fibre.

Replacing key nutrients when eliminating wheat

When eliminating items from the diet whether for the short term when implementing an elimination diet or for the long term, it is important to know alternative items that can be introduced into the diet to maintain nutrient balance. 

When looking to replace nutrients you may choose to substitute a grain with a grain or look at other food groups. Below are the richest sources of each nutrient.

B Vitamins

Grains

Oats, rye, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa

Other

Brewer’s yeast, peanuts, mushrooms, soybean flour and soybeans, split peas, pecans, sunflower seeds, lentils, cashews, chickpeas, broccoli, hazelnuts, peppers

Vitamin E

Spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards, avocado, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, sunflowers seeds, prawn/shrimp, crayfish, salmon, smoked salmon, swordfish, herring, trout, olive oil, sunflower oil, sweet potato, squashes, kiwi, mango, peach, nectarines, apricots, guava, raspberries, blackberries

Calcium

Watercress, kale, broccoli, low fat mozzarella, low fat cheddar, yogurt, pak choi, tofu, sugar snap peas, almonds, tinned sardines in oil with bones, tinned pink salmon

Magnesium

Grains

Buckwheat, rye, millet, brown rice, quinoa

Other

Kelp, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, tofu, coconut, soya beans, figs, apricots, dates, prawns, corn, avocado, spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards

Manganese

Grains

Rye, oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa

Other

Mussels, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans, lima beans, chickpeas, aduki beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pineapple, spinach, kale, tofu, soybeans, sweet potato, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries

Zinc

Grains

Rye

Other

Spinach, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, pork, chicken, chickpeas, mushrooms

Iron

Grains

Rye, oats

Other

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chicken liver, oysters, mussels, clams, cashews, pine nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, beef, lamb, lentils, white beans, soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lima beans, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, dark chocolate

Selenium

Grains

Brown rice, rye

Other

Brazil nuts, mushrooms, shrimp, sardines, oysters, tuna, sunflower seeds, liver, eggs, beef, turkey, cottage cheese

Copper

Grains

Rye, oats

Other

Sesame seeds, cashews, soybeans, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, tempeh, garbanzo beans, lentils, walnuts, lima beans, liver, spirulina, dark chocolate, collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach, kale

Phosphorus

Grains

Brown rice, oats, rye, quinoa

Other

Chicken, turkey, pork, liver, sardines, scallops, salmon, mackerel, crab, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews

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