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As someone with celiac disease, we know we cannot eat anything with gluten in it. This includes products made from wheat, barley and rye and all derivatives of these ingredients.
There are two food products that include the word “wheat” in their names, which make gluten-free people take pause. The two products are “wheatgrass” and “buckwheat.”
Let’s get to the bottom of whether or not these two products are actually gluten-free.
Is Wheatgrass Gluten-Free?
According to Wikipedia, wheatgrass is a food prepared from the freshly sprouted first leaves of the common wheat plant. Wikipedia also goes on to say, “Because wheatgrass juice is extracted from wheatgrass sprouts, i.e., before the wheat seed begins to form, it is gluten-free.”
Wait a second – you mean to tell me a product made from a wheat plant is actually gluten-free?
Yes, it is.
The reason for this is that the seed of the wheat plant contains the grain, and the grain contains the protein known as gluten. If you’re simply eating the grass (without the seed), than you’re consuming the gluten-free part of the plant. The same is true for barley grass – the barley grass is gluten-free, but the seed kernel, or endosperm, is not.
However, take this information with a grain of salt.
While many farmers will harvest the wheatgrass before the seed has time to form to prevent any gluten contamination in their final products, if a farmer doesn’t time things right, and even just one seed sprouts, that particular crop is at high risk of having gluten contamination. In order for a product to be “gluten-free,” a farmer needs to be mindful of the harvesting and production process to ensure no seeds get into the final product.
While many people enjoy wheatgrass for its health benefits, you can get the same, if not better, health benefits by eating other leafy green vegetables along with other fresh vegetables and produce.
If you have a wheat allergy, however, you should avoid wheatgrass regardless if the seed is present or not. A wheat allergy is not the same as a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. People who are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease must avoid the gluten protein (which is found in the seed of the wheat plant). People with a wheat allergy must avoid all wheat products but may be able to eat products that contain gluten from barley and rye, for example.
Bottom line: Is Wheatgrass Gluten-Free?
While wheatgrass (and barley grass) may be gluten-free, most gluten-free experts agree it’s just not worth the risk. That said, there is one exception to this rule: If a product is certified gluten-free and contains wheatgrass or barley grass, you may consume it. These products have been independently verified by a third party to be gluten-free.
One such product is Suja cold-pressed juices. Many of the “gluten-free” varieties contain barley grass and alfalfa grass. The company says it sources only “young soft green shoots.” Suja says it tests each lot of barley grass and alfalfa grass for gluten contamination before it is used in their facility and before it is used in any of their juices. Suja also says it tests each batch of finished products for gluten contamination. (Find Sujas on Amazon.)
Is Buckwheat Gluten-Free?
Another product that leaves us celiacs scratching our heads is buckwheat. The word buckwheat contains “wheat” in it! However, buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, I swear!
Buckwheat isn’t a grain at all and, despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat (it’s not a grass), and is a relative to sorrel (herb), knotweed (weed) and rhubarb (edible stalks).
Still not convinced? Researchers fed people with celiac disease buckwheat and the patients showed no immunological reaction to the pseudo grain.
Buckwheat is a great source of protein, fiber and trace minerals. It comes in many forms: (1) groats (raw), (2) kasha (toasted), (3), noodles (soba), and (4) flour.
Here’s the catch, however. Many products that contain buckwheat also contain wheat.
For example, Soba noodles, delicious Japanese noodles, are traditionally made from buckwheat flour. However, the soba noodles I found at my local grocery store contain both buckwheat and wheat flour!! You must look for soba noodles made 100% from buckwheat flour only!
Bottom line: Is Buckwheat Gluten-Free?
Yes, it most definitely is! Just beware of products that contain more than buckwheat if you’re avoiding gluten.
Did you enjoy, “Is Wheatgrass Gluten-Free?” If so, please check out these other great articles from Good For You Gluten Free!
- What’s Gluten-Free at Costco?
- Everything You Need to Know About Healthy and Gluten-Free Cooking Oils
- Is Panera’s Gluten-Free Menu Really Gluten-Free?
This post, “Is Wheatgrass Gluten-Free?” contains affiliate links.
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