Eating gluten-free does not mean you have to cut out all of the food groups from your life. You may have thought all carbohydrate-containing foods could potentially cause a gastrointestinal problem, but lentils are a gluten-free dried bean that will work for you. Include them on your shopping list since these beans are packed with protein, fiber and B-vitamins.
When To Eat Gluten-Free
A gluten-free diet is used as a treatment for celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy. If you have celiac sprue, your immune system reacts to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. When gluten is consumed, the villi of the small intestine become damaged. Villi are tiny fingerlike projections that lie on the inner wall of the small intestines and absorb nutrients. The constant inflammation and irritation from the gluten sensitivity causes the villi to flatten, which results in malabsorption of nutrients and possible malnutrition.
Celiac Sprue Symptoms
The National Institutes of Health reports that celiac sprue affects one in 100 people in the United States and Europe. Celiac sprue is now easier to detect since diagnostic technology is more sensitive. Symptoms may include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, skin rash, anemia and joint pain. If left untreated, long-term complications can occur, such as osteoporosis, vitamin K deficiencies, dental enamel defects and malnutrition.
Lentils can be a part of your daily meal plan since they are high in protein and fiber and low in fat. They provide 230 calories, 18 grams of protein, 0.76 gram of fat and 15.6 grams of fiber per cup. Consuming 1 cup of lentils per day has been found to improve blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetics and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. If your total cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein levels are elevated, the addition of 2 cups of lentils per day can lower levels reach normal ranges.
All legumes are considered safe foods since they are gluten-free. Due to their high protein content, 1/4 cup of cooked beans is equivalent to 1 ounce of meat. Beans you should include in your diet are chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans and soybeans. A handful of nuts such as almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and cashews make a great snack. You can also add seeds such as flax, pumpkin and sunflower to salads and homemade gluten-free breads for extra flavor.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What Are Legumes?
- The World’s Healthiest Foods: Lentils
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Celiac Disease
- U.S. Department of Health And Human Services: Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign
- Archives of Internal Medicine: Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
- British Journal of Nutrition: A Pulse-Based Diet Is Effective For Reducing Total And LDL-Cholesterol In Older Adults.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Nutrient Data Laboratory Lentils Mature Seeds Cooked
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Boost Your Nutrition With Beans
Jennifer Tomesko has been a registered dietitian since 1997 and a certified nutrition support clinician since 1999. She earned a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where she also serves as an adjunct professor.