All natural is not always good, as people suffering from allergies can rightly testify. Gluten is one such problematic component. Gluten-free food is the go-to food for people who suffer from Celiac disease, wheat allergies and other ailments. But that doesn’t stop other folk from hopping onto the gluten-free trend, considering the health benefits that come with it.

Adding a ‘-free’ to food products sure seems to increase their health benefits, but there’s only so much we can do to keep our bodies ‘disease-free’. One of these is knowing the top 5 grains which are gluten-free and healthy. These don’t include the more widely known rice and quinoa, as we feel like their lesser-known cousins deserve the spotlight for a bit.

1. Sorghum

It may sound like something out of a Lord of the Rings book, but Sorghum actually comes from central Africa. Sorghum stands out from other grains not just because of its name, but also because it is one of the few grains to contain a high amount of antioxidants. This helps reduce oxidative stress, and gives you protection from chronic diseases. Apart from that, it is a good source of vitamin B, fibre, potassium, protein and iron. You can get approximately 20 gms of protein and 12 gms of fibre from one cup.

Sorghum is not just beneficial in keeping blood sugar levels steady, but is also used to make sweeteners and certain alcoholic beverages – diabetics, it’s your time to shine.

Recipes to try: Mildly flavored, Sorghum pops in saucepans and makes for a great popcorn replacement. It can also be ground into a flour for some top-notch gluten-free baking, though we must mention, the final product depends more on your baking skills than on the Sorghum itself. Gluten-free is but a health tag, it won’t help your dried-out cupcakes sell any faster at the neighborhood bakeoff!

Informative: Know How to Measure Ingredients the Correct Way while Baking!

2. Buckwheat

When Shakespeare wrote his famous ‘What’s in a name’ quote, we bet he wasn’t thinking that years later it would be used in the context of grains. But it sure does apply in the case of Buckwheat. Despite the name, buckwheat is actually a gluten-free pseudo grain. Sure, it technically isn’t a grain, but we let it join the gang since most people think it is. After all, its nutritional content and use in cooking are very similar to grains, and discrimination doesn’t bode well in the grain world.

High in antioxidants, buckwheat can lower inflammation and reduce the risk of high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. That’s a whopping four birds with one stone! It is also a great source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, fiber and phosphorus. One bowl of cooked buckwheat gives you around 5 gms of fiber and 6 gms of protein.

Recipes to try: Try your hand at making noodles with buckwheat flour, called soba noodles. You may find them in the international or Asian aisle at the supermarket, but ensure they are completely gluten-free before you buy them. If making the noodles is too time-consuming, just take the easy way out with some crepes instead.

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3. Amaranth

Amaranth sure sounds like a fancy, folklore-like name for a grain, but considering that it was the sacred food of the Aztecs, we’re better off refraining from making any comments. Rather, we’ll just dive into why the great empire obsessed over it. Amaranth is a group of over 60 species of grain, cultivated for around 8,000 years. It has a great nutty flavour, best brought out when toasted. Rich in manganese, Amaranth can help improve brain functions. It is also rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, protein, fiber, phosphorus and antioxidants. That’s a long list of benefits, and while we can’t entirely credit Amaranth for the sharp minds of the Aztecs, we can credit it for its help with keeping our bones strong and our blood healthy.

Recipes to try: Amaranth is fairly versatile, and can be used to replace rice when it gets too boring. Cooked and chilled Amaranth can also be used as a thickener in jellies and soups. 

4. Teff

Size doesn’t always equal substance (ahem, in most cases). Take Teff – it sure packs a lot of punch for the world’s smallest grain. For one, flavour – it is actually slightly nutty and sweet. Secondly, nutrition – Teff has high quantities of calcium, copper, zinc and iron. You can get upto twenty grams of protein and ten grams of fibre from one cup of Teff. And lastly, versatility – it can be ground into a flour, used as a replacement for rice, used to make a sourdough, need we go on?

Recipes to try: You can prepare some delicious risotto or porridge with Teff, and use it as a thickening agent. Cooking it atop a stove gives you some hot, fresh cereal.

5. Millet

No, eating millet doesn’t make you a bird. You can’t just fly away from life’s problems, but if you eat millet, you may be able to fight them off instead. Used as birdfeed, these small guys are the hardcore toughies of the grain world. Millet is small in size but is fast-growing, and boasts a durability to the elements that not a lot of grains can compete with. It is also packed with nutrition – it has plenty of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, and even has a higher protein content than both corn and rice. Plus, they are rich in antioxidants. While all millets contain antioxidants, you want to go for the darker colored ones if you want more antioxidants.

Recipes to try: Millets are fairly versatile, and can be used as a replacement for rice. You can also have some as a breakfast cereal. Anything baked with millet flour will have an enhanced nutritional value. We told you – tiny, but practically bodyguards for our health.

See also: 5 Superfoods That Are Really Good For You!| Alter your Diet as per Workout Regime

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