Gluten-free whole grains to add to your diet

The health and nutrition benefits of quinoa, wild rice, cornmeal and amaranth.
EatingWell // EatingWell

Despite the fact that they're gluten free, packed with fiber and rich in essential nutrients, certain whole grains such as quinoa, wild rice, cornmeal and amaranth remain underrated. Read on to see why you should make these native grains staples in your pantry as well as stars of your dinner table.

—Maria Speck

Related: Gluten-Free Diet Quick Tips

1 of 6 Photo: Erica Allen

Quinoa

Quinoa, which is native to the Andes, comes in red and white. It is one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein, meaning it has balanced quantities of 9 essential amino acids.

Related: How to Cook Quinoa

Related recipes from Eating Well: Quinoa & Smoked Tofu Salad

Pear-Quinoa Salad

2 of 6 Photo: Blaine Moats

Cornmeal

The cradle of corn is southern Mexico, where scientists found milling tools with maize residue dating back almost 9,000 years. Cornmeal, which has a fraction of the calories of other grains, is also sometimes labeled "polenta."

Related: Is Sweet Corn Bad For You? Plus More Myths About Sweet Corn Busted

Related recipe from Eating Well: Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Nuggets with Blackberry Mustard

3 of 6 Photo: Robert Jacobs

Wild Rice

Chewy and nutty wild rice, which has fewer carbs and more protein than brown rice, is actually not a rice, but an aquatic grass grown extensively in the Midwest around the Great Lakes.

Related recipes from Eating Well: Mushroom & Wild Rice Frittata

Cherry, Wild Rice & Quinoa Salad

4 of 6 Photo: Julian Wass

Amaranth

Grown as an ornamental for its pretty blooms as well as for its grains, amaranth is a boon for vegetarians because it's high in both iron and zinc, nutrients that can be tough to get in a vegetarian diet.

5 of 6 Photo: Blaine Moats