What are the healthiest gluten-free foods?

Going gluten-free has become an increasingly popular dietary choice for many people. Some choose to avoid gluten due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, while others simply prefer to cut it out of their diets. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. Fortunately, there are many naturally gluten-free foods that are highly nutritious. Here are some of the healthiest gluten-free foods to include in your diet.

Fruits and Vegetables

All fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Eating more produce is associated with lower risks of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Fruits and vegetables are rich in important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and plant compounds. Try loading up your diet with healthy produce like leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, berries, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, carrots and more.

Nutrient-Dense Fruits and Vegetables

  • Spinach – Loaded with folate, vitamin K, vitamin A, iron and antioxidants.
  • Broccoli – High in vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium and cancer-fighting compounds.
  • Bell Peppers – Excellent sources of vitamins C, A, B6, folic acid and antioxidants.
  • Blueberries – Packed with vitamin C, manganese, antioxidants and phytonutrients.
  • Oranges – High in vitamin C, folate and antioxidants.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and antioxidants.
  • Carrots – Great sources of vitamin A, biotin, vitamin K and potassium.

When grocery shopping, aim to fill at least half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal. Going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to miss out on essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants found in produce.

Lean Proteins

Protein foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy are naturally gluten-free (as long as they are not breaded, flavored or marinated with ingredients containing gluten). Protein is vital to help build and repair muscles, bones, skin and blood cells. It also keeps you feeling full between meals. Aim to include a few servings of lean protein foods in your gluten-free diet daily.

Healthy Protein Foods

  • Eggs
  • Chicken Breast
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Lean Beef
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Nuts and Seeds

Try to choose grass-fed, organic and wild protein foods whenever possible to maximize nutrients and minimize exposure to antibiotics and hormones found in conventional farming practices.

Naturally Gluten-Free Grains

Many whole grains are naturally gluten-free, including:

  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Amaranth
  • Corn

These gluten-free grains provide important nutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and fiber. Be sure to look for certified gluten-free oats, as some brands process oats alongside gluten-containing grains. Quinoa and brown rice are excellent versatile options. Try using them in grain bowls, as a base for veggie burgers or even to make porridge for breakfast.

Nutrient Profile of Gluten-Free Grains

Grain Key Nutrients
Quinoa Protein, iron, magnesium, manganese
Brown Rice Magnesium, manganese, selenium
Oats Fiber, protein, iron, zinc
Buckwheat Magnesium, copper, manganese
Millet Magnesium, phosphorus, selenium
Sorghum Fiber, protein, iron, potassium
Teff Protein, fiber, calcium, iron
Amaranth Protein, magnesium, iron, calcium
Corn Fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium

Aim for 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cooked gluten-free grains per meal. Mix up your grains rather than relying on just rice or quinoa. Try using millet in a pilaf, making buckwheat crepes or blending sorghum flour into muffins.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds and coconut are naturally gluten-free. They are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and keep your heart healthy. Include a serving or two of these high fat foods per meal.

Examples of Healthy Fats

  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans
  • Nut butters
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Coconut butter
  • Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel

Use olive or avocado oil when cooking, make chia pudding for breakfast and grab a handful of mixed nuts for a satisfying snack. Getting enough healthy fats promotes satiety between meals and helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K from other foods.

Herbs, Spices and Condiments

Here are some gluten-free herbs, spices and condiments to flavor up your cooking:

  • Fresh or Dried Basil
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Curry Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Onion Powder
  • Mustard
  • Hot Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Tamari or Coconut Aminos

Use these flavor boosters in marinades, salad dressings, sauces and rubs to make your gluten-free meals anything but boring. Read labels to be sure ingredients like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and mixes don’t contain gluten. If a product label says it contains wheat, rye or barley, avoid it.

Dairy and Dairy Alternatives

Those who must follow a gluten-free diet can still enjoy dairy products. Plain milk, yogurt, cheese and butter do not naturally contain gluten. Opt for full-fat dairy from grass-fed cows to get the most omega-3s. If you cannot tolerate dairy, choose non-dairy alternatives like:

  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Coconut Yogurt
  • Almond Yogurt
  • Dairy-Free Cheese
  • Nut and Seed Butters

Fortified non-dairy milks are often enriched with nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 to provide a nutritional profile similar to dairy milk. Those avoiding gluten should opt for plain rather than flavored varieties to prevent getting unnecessary added sugars.


Many delicious beverages are naturally free of gluten:

  • Water
  • Sparkling Water
  • Smoothies
  • Juice
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Cider
  • Milk
  • Non-dairy Milks

Avoid beer unless it is labeled gluten-free, as most beer contains gluten from wheat or barley used in the brewing process. Flavored coffee drinks and teas with syrups may contain gluten, so read labels carefully or stick to plain varieties.

Healthy Gluten-Free Beverage Options

Beverage Benefits
Water Keeps you hydrated, aids digestion, boosts metabolism
Sparkling Water Hydrating, zero calories
Fruit and Veggie Smoothies High in nutrients, filling
Green Tea Antioxidants, enhances fat burning
Coffee Increases energy and focus
Red Wine Rich in antioxidants like resveratrol
Kefir Probiotics for gut health

Sip on water, smoothies, coffee and tea throughout the day. Limit alcohol to occasional moderate intake, as too much can be detrimental to health.


Following a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to mean missing out on flavor or nutrition. In fact, there are plenty of healthy and delicious gluten-free foods to choose from. Fill your diet with ample fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, dairy or dairy alternatives and naturally gluten-free whole grains. Use herbs, spices, oils and condiments to add lots of flavor. Drink plenty of water and opt for other beverages like coffee, tea and wine in moderation.

Focus on choosing unprocessed foods rather than gluten-free snack and dessert items, which are often still high in sugar, fat and calories with less nutrients. As long as you are eating from a variety of healthy gluten-free foods, you can get all the macro- and micronutrients your body needs to thrive.

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