Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gluten content in Einkorn flour vs regular flour

As you may know, here at Eat Thrive Heal, we have been experimenting with ancient wheat grain einkorn flour, a low-gluten alternative, as part of an anti-inflammation diet.  (For facts and further information about einkorn flour, go here.)

We usually cook with the Jovial brand of einkorn flour.  It's actually biodynamic.  

This excerpt about the glutens in einkorn, below, is from the book, Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis:
"Gluten from one wheat strain can be quite different in structure from that of another strain.  The gluten proteins produced by einkorn wheat, for example, are distinct from the gluten proteins of emmer, which are, in turn, different from the gluten proteins of Triticum aestivum (modern wheat).
Because 14-chromosome einkorn, containing the so-called A genome (set of genes) has the smallest chromosome set, it codes for the fewest number and variety of glutens.  28-chromosome emmer, containing the A genome with the added B genome, codes for a larger variety of gluten.  Forty two-chromosome Triticum aestivum, with the A, B and D genomes, has the greatest gluten variety even before any human manipulation of its breeding.  Hybridization efforts of the past fifty years have generated numerous additional changes in gluten-coding genes in Triticum aestivum, most of them purposeful modifications of the D genome that confer baking and aesthetic characteristics on flour.  Indeed, genes located in the D genome are those most frequently pinpointed as the source of the glutens that trigger celiac disease.  
It is therefore the D genome of modern Triticum aestivum that, having been the focus of all manner of genetic shenanigans by plant geneticists, has accumulated substantial change in genetically determined characteristics of gluten proteins.  It is also potentially the source for many of the odd health phenomena experienced by consuming humans."   

Yes, this explanation is kind of technical, but it does clearly explain that there is much less gluten in einkorn and that what may be the most troublesome type of gluten, that of the D genome, may not be present in einkorn.

Gluten-free vs. Low gluten Einkorn--  I am one of those people that can have strong reactions to wheat.  Over the years, I've solved the problem by simply avoiding all wheat products.  However, I am now finding that I am able to incorporate einkorn wheat into my diet, on an occasional basis, with no obvious reaction.  If you are normally gluten-free, you might want to test a little einkorn and watch your body's response to it.  We do not recommend this for everyone, and especially not for any celiacs, ever.  However, for people with gluten-intolerances, einkorn might be looked at as an occasional treat.

Also, einkorn has a higher protein content than modern wheat which makes it a little better for diabetics and people who watch their insulin response to food.  Because all grains are rather high on the glycemic scale, consuming einkorn should not become a daily habit for diabetics.  But einkorn does make certain foods, like cake on one's birthday, pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and strawberry cobbler on the 4th of July, possible.  Of course, we have developed tasty totally grain and gluten-free alternatives for all these foods, but they are never quite the same...and sometimes you just want the real thing.

For some of our published einkorn flour recipes, see here.  We are constantly working on new einkorn recipes as well as our usual grain-free, gluten-free and sugar-free standards.  Some of these recipes have been posted on this blog site, but many more will shortly be making their way here. in addition, we are about to publish an ecookbook called "Grain-free Sugar-free Baking and Treats".   Keep tuned to Eat Thrive Heal!

This "Toll House" style chocolate chip cookie is made with einkorn flour.  It's low-gluten, sugar-free and absolutely to-die-for!  Click here for the recipe.  

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