Is Hemp Safe to Eat When You’re Gluten-Free?
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Hemp—a very close but non-psychoactive relative to the cannabis plant known as marijuana that has gained a reputation as a superfood in recent years —is technically gluten-free. It’s not at all closely related to the gluten grains wheat, barley, and rye.
However, that’s not the end of the story for hemp, which is a valuable source of fiber, magnesium, and essential fatty acids. With all this versatility and nutrition contained in hemp, how can those of us on a gluten-free diet reap its benefits?
The catch with hemp, as with many other grain products, is that hemp is often grown in rotation with other crops including gluten grains like wheat. And farmers may use the same equipment to harvest, store, and transport hemp as they do with gluten grains. That’s how hemp can become contaminated.
It’s not guaranteed that hemp will be cross-contaminated with gluten, of course, though there’s a chance that some hemp could be above the U.S. legal limit of less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
So What Can You Do to Enjoy Hemp?
In order to avoid gluten cross contamination, you should look for hemp product manufacturers that ensure their sources of hemp are as pure as possible. To be extra cautious, avoid any hemp-based products that don’t reference gluten on the packaging (or manufacturers who openly admit they can’t guarantee they meet gluten-free standards, such as Pacific Foods ). Instead, look for products that are labeled “gluten-free,” which means they fall below 20 ppm.
Products that are labeled gluten-free must meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s legal standards of less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Manufacturers of products that are certified gluten-free are required to take extra steps to ensure the raw materials they source are free of gluten cross-contamination. If you’re particularly sensitive, your safest bet is a “Certified Gluten-Free” label from the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which ensures that that products fall below 10 ppm.
You can find many certified gluten-free hemp products on the GFCO’s website, and here are a few hemp products that are certified gluten-free to help get you started:
- Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Ancient Grain Granola. Purely Elizabeth granolas are packed with nutrients and come in a variety of flavors including blueberry hemp, which is made with other superfoods like amaranth, quinoa, and chia, and is lightly sweetened with coconut sugar and baked with coconut oil. All of Purely Elizabeth’s products are certified gluten-free by the GFCO, certified vegan, and non-GMO verified, and are made with organic ingredients and contain no artificial additives or soy.
- Elmhurst Barista Edition Hemp Milk. Made for steaming, foaming, and pouring, this barista-style hemp milk is certified gluten-free by the GFCO and is vegan, dairy-free, carrageenan-free, kosher, and non-GMO verified. It contains only six ingredients and is shelf-stable until opened, and you can also use it as a creamer for your favorite cup of coffee or tea.
- Suncore Foods Hulled Hemp Seeds. These hulled hemp seeds make for a quick energy-boosting snack or can add a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor to yogurt, smoothies, and salads. Suncore Foods’ hemp seeds are labeled gluten-free and included in the GFCO’s product directory, and are also organic and non-GMO verified.
As hemp foods become increasingly popular, more hemp-based products are available that are specially sourced and certified safe to eat for those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. As always, read labels carefully and don’t hesitate to contact the company or manufacturer should you need to know more.
Hemp-based foods are not always gluten-free enough for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Here's what you need to know to stay safe.
9 Best Gluten-Free Grains and Healthy Seeds
Whether you are exploring a gluten-free diet because of allergic sensitivities or for the health benefits it offers, there’s still plenty of grains and seeds out there for you to healthfully explore! To support you along the way, here are some key benefits and ways to enjoy gluten-free grains and healthy seeds.
What Does Gluten FREE MEAN Anyway?
If you sprouted a wheat berry and popped the grain open with your fingers, you’d find the inside sticky and white. That’s gluten, the substance responsible for aggravating people with Celiac’s disease and those with gluten sensitivities. Many experts feel that GMO-wheat has been the contributing factor in the rise of the gluten intolerant. Luckily, however, only a few grains are truly glutinous: wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and, in some cases oats, due to agricultural cross-contamination. Be sure to look for products with certified gluten-free oats if this is a concern for you. All seeds are safe and do not contain gluten.
List of Gluten-Free Grains and Seeds
In order from the highest cooked sources of protein per 100 grams, here are 9 gluten-free grains and seeds that are super healthy.
1. Hemp (seed)
Hemp tops the list with 23 grams of protein per 100 grams which makes hemp a great resource of protein that is high in omega fatty acids. A benefit of hemp is that it’s easy to work with and doesn’t require soaking or milling. Just throw it in your blender, add it to yogurt, or top on a salad.
2. Oats (grain)
With 16.89 grams of protein, gluten-free oats are a great source of minerals and a fiber called Beta-glucan which helps lower LDL cholesterol. Gluten-free oats are a key ingredient in some of our MacroBars. Soak gluten-free steel-cut oats overnight before cooking the next morning, this makes them more digestible and they cook a lot faster!
3. Chia (seed)
Chia seeds are superior to flax with 16.62 grams of protein since they contain a balance of all three major omega oils, 3, 6, and 9. Soak a tbsp. of chia in a 12 oz. cup of water, wait 20-minutes, and drink to help support digestion and regularity.
4. Buckwheat (grain)
Buckwheat contains 13.25 grams of protein and is actually a seed and not at all related to wheat and contains zero gluten. You’ll find buckwheat commonly prepared as noodles in the Asian sections of your grocer, or in the bulk food aisle. It’s also delicious to make, doesn’t take a lot time to cook, and is great for breakfast or dinner as a side.
5. Quinoa (grain)
Quinoa contains 4.4 grams of protein and is very similar to amaranth in its nutritional profile and cultural history. Quinoa is best eaten cooked. It’s versatile enough to be used as a breakfast porridge, as a dinner grain or in salads, and you can sprout it too.
6. Amaranth (seed)
With 3.8 grams of protein, Amaranth is an “ancient” grain, and has been used by the Maya and Aztec for thousands of years. High in calcium, Amaranth is like a teeny-tiny version of quinoa and is easiest to prepare sprouted. Simply soak overnight or for as little as 2-3 hours, drain, and let stand until the sprouts begin to grow.
7. Millet (seed)
With 3.5 grams of protein, Millet is not just for the birds, Millet is a yellow, round grain that promotes calmness. It has a rich nutty flavor, is easy to cook with, and is great for breakfast.
8. Brown rice (grain)
Brown rice contains 2.32 grams of protein and is one of the easiest grains to digest and helps you slowly burn sugar, so you use its energy–that’s why GoMacro uses it in our gluten-free protein bars. You must soak your rice (or rinse if you don’t have time) before cooking to wash away phytic acid contained in the rice, which inhibits nutrient absorption.
9. Flax (seed)
Flax contains 1.9 grams of protein and is best known for its high omega 3 fatty acid content, and can be ground up and used on salads or as an addition to any smoothie. Never cook with it though, its essential fats are sensitive to heat.
To support your gluten-free diet on the go, grab a GoMacro gluten-free protein bar! GoMacro MacroBars use 100% certified gluten-free ingredients.
Whether you are exploring a gluten-free diet because of allergic sensitivities or for the health benefits it offers, there’s still plenty of grains and seeds out there for you to healthfully explore! To …