If you're following a wheat-free diet, you don't have to say sayonara to your morning toast or bowl of cereal. In fact, there's a plethora of delicious and nutrient-dense wheat-free bread and cereals to choose from.
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But first, why follow a wheat-free diet? People with a wheat or gluten intolerance (non-celiac gluten sensitivity), a gluten or wheat allergy, as part of an autoimmune or elimination-based diet protocol or celiac disease, may benefit most from a wheat-free diet, says Kalee Eichelberger, RD, a dietitian at Orlando Health Digestive Health Institute.
That said, foods you can eat on a wheat-free diet versus a gluten-free diet are different, so when you're shopping for products, make sure you're reading ingredient labels carefully.
A gluten-free diet is entirely free of wheat, but wheat-free foods may still contain gluten.
If you have a wheat allergy, it's safe for you to eat gluten-free products, but if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, then products labeled "wheat-free" may not be safe. Always refer to the ingredients list for assurance.
Gluten-Free vs. Wheat-Free Diet
"Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (wheat/rye hybrid)," Eichelberger says. "It's an umbrella term that encompasses a number of grains. Gluten-free eating means also being wheat-free, as well as avoiding rye, barley and triticale-containing foods and derivatives."
On the other hand, wheat is only one type of grain. Non-gluten proteins make up about 25 percent of the total protein content of wheat cereal, and non-gluten proteins are immune-reactive in people with wheat sensitivity, says Erin Falco, RDN, an integrative and functional medicine dietitian specializing in gastrointestinal disease.
Bottom line is that not all wheat-free foods are gluten-free, but all gluten-free foods are wheat-free, Falco says.
"However, in terms of food labeling, the label can say gluten-free but not wheat-free. People with wheat allergies/sensitivities can safely consume gluten-free foods for the most part," Falco says.
"People with wheat allergies or sensitivities need to read the ingredients section to ensure wheat is not in the products. Legally labels will say, 'Contains wheat or may contain wheat,' which is helpful when reading labels."
Wheat-Containing Grains and Products
- Atta (chapati)
- Bromated or durum flour
- Enriched or self-rising flour
- Graham flour
- Matzo flour/meal
- Phosphated flour
- Triticale (wheat and rye)
- Wheat (including bran and germ)
- Wheat starch (unless it states it's gluten-free)
Gluten-Containing Grains and Products
- Wheat and all varieties and derivatives of wheat
- Brewer's yeast
- Wheat starch
The Best Wheat-Free Breads
Below, Falco and Amanda Holtzer, RD share some of their favorite wheat-free bread and cereal brands. We also added a few other wheat-free favorites.
1. Genius Food Wonder-Full Artisan Country Loaf
Per serving: 210 calories, 6 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat), 320 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates (5 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar) 2 grams protein
If you're craving a hearty slice of bread, Genius Food's country loaf has a soft and light texture that's perfect for those on a wheat-free diet.
It's made of tapioca, rice flour and psyllium husk, and contains prebiotic fiber. It's also a great source of calcium, niacin, iron, riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid, which are some common nutrients you'll find in wheat-containing bread.
2. Food for Life Sprouted for Life Gluten-Free Flax Bread
Made of organic sprouted quinoa, arrowroot, potato starch, millet, tapioca, flax and chia seeds, this Food for Life wheat-free bread provides a decent amount of fiber, which will help keep your blood sugar levels stabilized and hunger away. And because it contains sprouted grains, it's easier to digest and has more vitamins and antioxidants.
3. Bread SRSLY Classic Seeded Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread
Per 2-ounce serving: 123 calories, 2 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat), 200 mg milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates (2 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar), 3 grams protein
For a crusty slice of sourdough bread, try Bread SRSLY's gluten-free version. It has wheat-free grains, like millet, sorghum and arrowroot, as well as sunflower and poppy seeds for more texture. Use these sourdough slices to make avocado toast, a classic PB and J or savory tuna melt.
4. Siete Cassava & Coconut Tortillas
Per 2-tortilla serving: 120 calories, 3 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat), 280 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrate (4 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar), 1 gram protein
Make taco Tuesdays wheat-free with these cassava- and coconut-based tortillas. They're as soft and hearty as a flour tortilla, so you can use them to make a variety of dishes, including burritos, quesadillas and enchiladas.
5. Base Culture 7-Nut and Seed Bread
Per 1-slice serving: 110 calories, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 180 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate (4 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar), 4 grams protein
Featuring almond butter, arrowroot flour, flaxseed, chia seed, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds, this wheat-free bread is packed with plenty of healthy fats, which helps promote slower digestion, Holtzer says. She suggests enjoying a slice with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a hard-boiled egg on the side for a filling breakfast.
The Best Wheat-Free Cereals
1. Thrive Market Coconut Flakes Cereal
Per 1/2-cup serving: 160 calories, 11 grams fat (11 grams saturated fat), 15 milligrams sodium, 14 grams carbohydrates (5 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 2 grams protein
This low-sugar cereal has only three simple, wheat-free ingredients: coconut meat, coconut water and palm starch. And yet, it has a good amount of fiber at 5 grams per serving. It also provides some vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium.
Thrive Market ($7.99)
2. Love Grown Grain-Free Cinnamon Sweet Potato Cereal
Per 1-cup serving: 130 calories, 4.5 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated fat), 75 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates (4 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 4 grams added sugar), 10 grams protein
If you grew up loving Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, you'll fall for Love Grown's Cinnamon Sweet Potato Cereal, which provides the heartwarming flavor of cinnamon with much less sugar and more protein.
Cassava flour, tapioca starch, almond flour, flax seed and potato starch make this a great option for wheat-free folks, while pea protein supplies plant protein to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
3. Lovebird Grain-Free Honey Cereal
Per 3/4-cup serving: 100 calories, 1.5 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 110 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate (4 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 4 grams added sugar), 2 grams protein
Lovebird's grain-free cereal is a great alternative to the wheat-containing honey-Os cereal you usually see. Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that provides fiber, while raw honey imparts a natural sweetness and coconut supplies some healthy fats.
Amazon ($37.99 for a pack of 3)
4. Magic Spoon Grain-Free Cocoa Cereal
Per 1-cup serving: 140 calories, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 160 milligrams sodium, 15 grams carbohydrate (2 g fiber, 0 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 13 grams protein
Get your chocolate fix in a bowl! Magic Spoon's grain-free cocoa cereal is dangerously good and filling. It's made with tapioca starch and chicory root inulin, as well as real cocoa powder.
Because it's high in protein and contains no sugar, it makes a great option for people on a variety of diets, including low-carb, paleo and gluten-free.
5. Purely Elizabeth Vanilla Almond Butter Granola
Per 1/3-cup serving: 170 calories, 13 grams fat (4 grams saturated fat), 110 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrate (2 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 4 grams added sugar), 5 grams protein
Made with crunchy clusters of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut flakes and chia seeds, this hearty granola delivers both salty and sweet flavors in a bowl.
"No funky add-ins, and 1/3 cup has about 5 grams of protein. It's the perfect topping for yogurt or smoothies," Holtzer says.
6. Nature's Path Organic Gluten-Free Mesa Sunrise Flakes Cereal
Per 1-cup serving: 160 calories, 1.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated fat), 170 milligrams sodium, 32 grams carbohydrate (4 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar, 4 grams added sugar), 4 grams protein
These low-sugar corn flakes also include flaxseed, buckwheat flour, quinoa and amaranth, which provide fiber. Holtzer suggests enjoying a 1/2 cup of the cereal with some plain Greek yogurt, a 1/4 cup of strawberries and a handful of chopped walnuts.
What to Look for When Shopping for Wheat-Free Bread and Cereal
1. Look for Wheat-Free Grains and Flours
According to Falco and Eichelberger, gluten- and wheat-free grains and flours you want to look for in products are:
2. Choose Whole Grains
To ensure you're getting proper nutrition, choose wheat-free bread and cereal products that are made with whole grains, such as buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth and flax, says Holtzer.
Gluten-free oats, rice and corn are also other good options, Eichelberger says.
3. Try to Avoid Added Sugar
When shopping for wheat-free bread and cereals, you'll notice how many are made with sweeteners and fillers to improve their taste and texture.
Reading the ingredients label of the package carefully will also give you insight into how much of an ingredient the product contains.
"Ingredients are listed in descending order, meaning the first ingredient on the list is that of largest quantity in the product, while the last ingredient is that of the smallest quantity in the product," Holtzer says. "If sugar or sweeteners are at the beginning of the ingredients list, that's a no-go."
How to Get the Nutrients You Need on a Wheat-Free Diet
One of the most common nutrients missing in a wheat-free diet are iron, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin D and fiber, Falco says. But you can fortify your diet by incorporating the following foods:
- Flax meal: Falco says this boosts your dishes with fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fruits and veggies: Produce provides a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Lean protein: Animal proteins supply iron and B vitamins. Plant-based proteins, such as beans and legumes, also offer fiber.
- Dairy: If you can tolerate dairy, it provides calcium and vitamin D. If you can't tolerate it, consider taking a multivitamin, calcium and vitamin D supplement, Falco says.
- Beyond Celiac: "Celiac Disease: Fast Facts"
- Coeliac UK: "About Coeliac Disease"
- Mayo Clinic: "Wheat Allergy"
- Scielo: Food Science and Technology: "Recent Developments in Gluten-Free Bread Baking Approaches: A Review"
- Genius Bread
- Coeliac UK: "Oats"
- Coeliac UK: "Grains"
- Beyond Celiac: "Is Rye Gluten Free?"
- Colorado State University Extension: "Gluten-Free Baking"
- Kids With Food Allergies: A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Wheat Allergy"
- Celiac Disease Foundation: "Gluten-Free Companies"