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Is Birdseed The New Gluten-Free Superfood?
When people say gluten-free food tastes like birdseed, they don’t mean literally. But a new type of canary seed might actually be the next gluten-free grain craze, according to a study in the American Chemical Society’sJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
For years, Canadian researchers have been toying with this tiny seed—which has been primarily used as bird feed—in hopes that it could one day feed unfeathered folks, too. The tiny hairs on canary seeds made them inedible, until a researcher discovered how to grow a hairless variety through natural plant breeding methods.
Turns out, the bald birdseed has a lot going for it, since it’s 24% protein and 7% fiber. Plus, there’s another major bonus: in the course of testing the seed to prove its fitness for human consumption, researchers discovered that it’s gluten-free.
“There’s a need to look for alternatives to gluten-containing cereals…and the composition of this kind of canary seed is very good,” said lead researcher Joyce Boye, PhD, a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “It is indeed promising.”
Canary seeds aren’t approved as a human food quite yet; researchers are currently seeking “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) status from the FDA. But the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan (a group that provided funding for this study, by the way) expects the seeds to be approved later this year. And what, exactly, does canary seed taste like? Slightly nutty, particularly when roasted—and thankfully for gluten-free folks, not at all like bird food.
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