Quinoa Still Safe for Gluten Free?

August 03, 2012

Quinoa is a very nutritious seed and is becoming more and more popular all around. A new study found that it might not be safe for celiacs. Find out here...

Quinoa an “ancient grain” (it’s actually a seed) was originally cultivated thousands of years ago in the South American Andes and known as “the gold of the Incas” and the “mother of all grains.” Quinoa is a very good source of magnesium, iron, and boasts a whole host of other nutrients and bioactive compounds, as well as fiber. Quinoa can be ground into flour and used for baked goods or used in its whole form in place of couscous, rice or other grains in recipes. Today quinoa is a popular substitute for gluten containing grains, but a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that some varieties of quinoa might produce adverse reactions in the gluten sensitive, specifically those with celiac disease.

The researchers tested 15 different quinoa varieties, and four samples triggered a reaction, although all had levels of gluten that were below the 20mg per kg suggested for foods that can be labeled as gluten-free.

It is important to keep in mind, and the study authors stressed that most of the quinoa cultivars tested did not contain quantifiable celiac-toxic elements, and further research in celiac patients was necessary, to determine whether certain varieties of quinoa could elicit an allergic response in some individuals – as reported in FoodNavigator.com. It is also key to listen to cues from your body, as we are all different, and certain foods may cause us to feel better or worse, even if they seemingly have no connection to the original allergy or sensitivity. 

The researchers concluded that, “generally, quinoa is safe for those with celiac disease, however there was large variability in the grains tested similar to oats.” They go on to say that more work is needed “to confirm the suitability of quinoa and to facilitate its full incorporation in the gluten-free market.”

For those who feel great eating quinoa, continue to do so as quinoa is a very good source of nutrition, specifically magnesium and iron. Magnesium is important for muscle relaxation, building and strengthening bones as well as benefiting the circulatory system. Iron plays the essential role of helping to carry oxygen to the heart, lungs and brain as well as throughout the body. Iron plays a large part in keeping our immune system healthy and helps us stay alert and energized. Along with magnesium and iron, quinoa boasts a whole host of other nutrients and bioactive compounds as well as fiber.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder with symptoms caused by consumption of gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. The only treatment is complete avoidance of gluten.