Gluten-free diets have garnered a lot of attention in recent years as more and more people have been diagnosed with wheat allergies and celiac disease. Statistics indicate that three million Americans have celiac disease and nearly 18 million Americans have some level of gluten sensitivity. Unfortunately a large percentage of people with gluten intolerance don’t know they have it because the symptoms are similar to those of other disorders.
Gluten is a sticky protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye. It has a molecular structure that many human digestive systems cannot process properly. If they ingest foods containing gluten, people with sensitivities may experience bloating, constipation, sore muscles, dry skin, mouth sores, fatigue and weight fluctuations. While there is no cure for gluten intolerance most people find that symptoms disappear when they embrace a gluten-free diet.
For best results, a gluten-free diet should include plenty of fresh vegetables because they are packed with immune-boosting nutrients. The top five vegetable superstars include:
Broccoli: This bright green cruciferous vegetable is packed with top-shelf phytonutrients and is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc. It is delicious raw, steamed or sautéed.
Related: Why is Kale So Healthy?
Kale: A nutrient-dense leafy green, kale is a member of the cabbage family and is rich in carotenoids as well as calcium and iron. It has so many nutrients per serving that many dieticians refer to it as the “king of greens.”
Spinach: Much like kale, spinach is high in carotenoids, calcium and iron. It is also rich in vitamin C. Research suggests that people who eat spinach on a regular basis reduce their risk for cancer and other inflammatory diseases.
Parsley: Because parsley is often used as a garnish, many people don’t eat it and are not aware of its powerful nutrient content. This small leafy herb is loaded with folic acid as well as vitamins A, K and C.
Watercress: This little green is packed has more vitamin C per serving than oranges. It is also loaded with calcium, iron and folate.
By eliminating gluten and embracing smart food choices, you will feel and look your best. Add these five veggie powerhouses to your gluten-free diet to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need.