Diet and Nutrition

Why Canary Seeds Are Ideal for Gluten-Free Diets

Why Canary Seeds Are Ideal for Gluten-Free Diets

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that causes the patients to suffer attacks to the small intestine whenever they ingest products with gluten. It’s estimated that one in one hundred people worldwide suffer from celiac disease and that approximately two and a half million people in the United States go undiagnosed. People with celiac disease are allergic to gluten, the generic name for a group of proteins found in most grain products, it can quite literally be considered a glue that helps food to retain its shape. When gluten is consumed by people with celiac their bodies cause the immune system to attack the small intestine. The villi inside of the intestines, the small protrusions that are responsible for absorbing nutrients, become damaged over time and the nutrients from food cannot be absorbed into the body.

The result is people that even though they eat, will become malnourished and are at risk for developing a host of other autoimmune diseases such as type I diabetes, osteoporosis, infertility issues and may be prone to miscarriages, intestinal cancers and some neurological conditions such as migraines and epilepsy.

How Easy is it to eat Gluten Free?

Finding gluten free options has become a long way in the past few years, however there is still a significant amount of difficulty depending on where you live and also what your means are. A large percentage of gluten free options can be prohibitively expensive for some. Because of the need to ensure that products are absolutely contamination free from the fields to the plant that processes it, manufacturers often end up paying more on their end to make that a reality which includes packaging a labeling costs. Additionally, gluten free products like loaves, cookies, pies and such will usually have as many as twenty extra ingredients to make up for the lack of the binding properties of gluten that allows these products to hold their shape.

That being said the products that are offered by major retailers are likely being sold at an astronomical markup. Luckily there are a number of ways to cut down on the cost of needing gluten free products. One way is to incorporate into the diet as many fresh whole fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, eggs, chicken and fish. Avoid buying pre-packaged foods at major retailers, if something like flour is needed it can be made using gluten free ingredients that may already be available in the pantry like brown rice, chickpea and potato. It may not be exactly the same but will work just as well. It may also be easier and cheaper to find gluten free products from online e-tailers, and while it is a viable option, people should be careful and research the company before purchase.

What Sorts of Grains are Good for a Gluten-Free Diet?

When first diagnosed with celiac disease, many people don’t realize just how many of the foods they consume in their daily lives are grain products. Things like oatmeal, barley, rye, wheat, grits, bread and breakfast cereals, just about everything has grains it. So what does someone with celiac disease use in place of these grains as a substitute for say a breakfast cereal?

There are some grains that people who have celiac disease can consume. Rice and others starch containing grains such as corn, soy and sorghum are all safe alternatives. There are also some seeds that can be used and one of them is a canary seed that’s been on the market for a few years now. This seed variant was specifically developed at The University of Saskatchewan to be ingested by humans and created with those that have celiac disease in mind and can be used as a breakfast cereal.

What Makes This Seed Different?

Canary seeds as the name suggests is a seed that is feed primarily to birds. In its original form, a canary seed's outside hull has tiny sharp microscopic silica fibers that are like tiny glass needles, and have been thought to cause damage to the throat that leads to esophageal cancer. Reports have shown that areas of Southern Africa, Northern China and Iran have very high rates of esophageal cancer with studies showing that in these areas the population has consumed flour that was contaminated by traditional canary seeds fibers. A study also showed that mice that had been with traditional canary seed formed tumors around the nose and mouth which incidentally are the areas that has the most contact with the silica fibers. The silica fibers also share some similarity with asbestos fibers.

This new canary seed variant is a good alternative for a gluten free diet. In many parts of the world such as Mexico, South Africa and the Canary Islands this form of canary seed has long been in use and is regarded as a good dietary supplement because it is high in iron and contains more protein than other common forms of cereals. It also makes a flour that is suitable for baked goods, and many believe that it supports a healthy circulatory system, promotes heart health, and contains other enzymes that have anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to be beneficial to the kidneys and liver. In the pancreas it helps to stimulate the pancreatic functions that also helps control blood sugar and fight diabetes. This variant was originally developed to aid farmers who handled food avoid the irritation caused by traditional canary seed.

It’s also been said to aid in maintaining a healthy weight. Canary seed contain an enzyme known as lipase, what this enzyme does is stimulate the cleaning of arteries to remove lipids and triglycerides that may be harmful, thus not only promoting weight loss but keeping the arteries healthy. It also contains a very high antioxidant content that helps to fight free radicals and can act as a diuretic to help eliminate fluid retention.

The Future of With Canary Seeds

In many ways canary seeds are a better alternative than traditional grains as they have a much higher concentration of minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc than oats or wheat. They also contain an average of eight percent crude fat, twenty-four percent protein, seven percent total dietary fiber and fifty-six percent starch. It does fall a bit lopsided when looked at closely for use in baking. Researchers found that although seeds that have been ground into flour for use in baking can be used at one hundred percent in cookies, cakes and flatbreads, when used to make breads it can only be used at twenty-five percent twenty-five percent of recipe if manufacturers want to retain a shape, volume, color and crust consistent with market expectations.

Despite all the great benefits, making canary seeds a large part of the gluten free market in North America has been rather slow. Part of that researchers admit is that this variant of canary seed is subject to cross contamination as it’s being grown in close proximity to glutinous plants, and subject to additional cross contamination during the harvesting, production and processing. However raw canary seed in small batches is readily available in stores and it can still be bought as rough seeds and processed by people who wish to experience for themselves this super seed.