The Best Wheat Substitutes for Pregnant Women with Celiac Disease

Wheat substitutes for pregnant women with celiac disease are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Keep reading to learn more.
The Best Wheat Substitutes for Pregnant Women with Celiac Disease

Last update: 10 March, 2023

Celiac disease is a health condition in which the intestine becomes inflamed when gluten is released from wheat and other grains, resulting in the malabsorption of nutrients. For every man, there are 4 women with celiac disease. So far, the best treatment is to omit foods with gluten, but it’s not an easy task. For this reason, in this article, we’ll present wheat substitutes for pregnant women with celiac disease that will improve intestinal absorption.

Remember that if you are pregnant with celiac disease, you should visit your obstetrician and nutritionist regularly, who will accompany you in your diet.

What’s gluten and where is it found?

Gluten is the main protein in wheat, as it represents between 80 and 90% of the total protein. It’s what allows wheat dough, when fermented, to rise when it traps air and is sticky and extensible.

Gluten is made up of glutamines and proline, which have the particularity of not being completely digested. Therefore, some small proteins remain in the intestine and produce an immune reaction in those with celiac disease. In addition, barley and rye also contain gluten. Oats are considered gluten-free. However, they contain avenin, which is less toxic but also causes a reaction in celiac patients.

Women with celiac disease, like other people with this condition, should completely rule out the use of wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Instead, they’ll have to look for gluten-free alternatives, which offer nutritional, sensory, and energetic properties to cover all nutritional needs.

Wheat substitute foods for pregnant women with celiac disease

Wheat and its derivatives are among the most commonly used grains in baking and confectionery. In the case of pregnant women with celiac disease, when substituting gluten-containing grains with other foods, these must comply with a series of guidelines:

  • Maintain an intake of simple and complex carbohydrates as a source of energy.
  • Provide enough fiber to avoid constipation.
  • Be a source of B complex vitamins, folic acid, vitamin A, and antioxidants found in plants.
  • Provide good amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Here are some of these wheat substitutes for women with celiac disease that can be used fresh or as flour.

A spoonful of quinoa next to quinoa plants.
Both quinoa and amaranth have a pleasant texture and taste and are cooked in a similar way to other grains. Cookies and specialty breads are made from their flours.

Quinoa and amaranth

Quinoa and amaranth can be eaten cooked as whole grains or in the form of flour. Sindhu and Khatkar, in their most recent chapter, published that both are pseudocereal sources of starch and fiber. Unlike wheat, their proteins do contain lysine, methionine, and tryptophan.

These foods also provide B and E complex vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Their flours have more antioxidant power than those of wheat, potato, rice, and corn, as referred to by the site Live Science, in 2018. In addition, their bioactive compounds are betalain, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds.

Nut flour

Nuts provide pregnant women with celiac disease with many nutrients for the proper growth and development of babies. According to the Spanish Nutrition Foundation, they have 20% protein, almost double the content of wheat. At the same time, fiber is found in high quantities, with a predominance of insoluble fiber, which prevents constipation.

Nut flours also contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is considered a precursor of docosahexaenoic fatty acid or DHA. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics promotes it as a type of fat that stimulates the visual and cerebral development of babies until the first years of life.

At the same time, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, and selenium are found in good proportion. Niacin, vitamin E and B complex, and folates are also present.

Legume flours

Legumes, such as chickpeas, soybeans, beans, or lentils, provide protein values similar to those of meat. Soybeans can even double this value when raw, as they contain around 40%. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, range between 40 and 60 %, most of which are digestible starch. Also, dietary fiber and resistant starch (RA) predominate, which acts as a type of soluble fiber.

Other important nutrients are potassium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. The most important vitamins are B complex vitamins and folic acid. However, the presence of some antinutrients prevents the absorption of minerals. Fortunately, as pointed out by the journal ALAN, these are reduced by high cooking temperatures, soaking, germination, and the fermentation of legumes.

Corn flour

Corn, like other cereals, represents an important source of energy due to the presence of starch. Its protein content is slightly lower than that of wheat, but it’s highly digestible, as revealed in the journal Cereal Chemistry. However, the nutritional quality of the protein can be compensated by mixing it with ingredients of animal origin, such as milk, eggs, and their derivatives.

Whole corn flour also provides insoluble fiber, vitamin A, E, thiamin,e and pyridoxine. On the other hand, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry mentions some antioxidant compounds in corn flour, such as ferulic acid. Blue, purple, and red corn varieties contain other antioxidants with health benefits, such as anthocyanins.

A woman holding a bowl of cooked white rice.
Rice is the traditional replacement for wheat in gluten-free diets. Brown rice is the most recommended for pregnant women with celiac disease.


Rice contains sufficient starch as a source of calories, proteins of medium biological value, and B vitamins. Furthermore, brown rice is the most recommended in pregnant women to increase fiber intake and avoid constipation. According to the Spanish Nutrition Foundation, this type of rice retains more minerals and vitamins than refined rice.

Other wheat substitutes

Other alternatives to wheat flour are also used as part of the management of celiac disease. These are millet, potato, sweet potato, tapioca, cornstarch, potato starch, buckwheat, and sorghum flours. Pumpkin and carrot flours are sweet flours that are good for baking. These are also excellent wheat substitutes for pregnant women with celiac disease.

Tips for the better use of wheat substitutes

The absence of gluten in wheat substitutes causes some culinary problems in preparations. Therefore, here are some tips to improve the sensory properties of recipes:

  • Combine different flours: To acquire a better texture of the products, mix the flours in the proportions of your preference. For example, 60% whole grain flour and 40% refined flour or starch. A good option is to make it 50/50.
  • Add fiber and texture improvers: The Grenada Celiac Association recommends adding fiber to refined flours in a maximum proportion of 2%. As well as the so-called natural hydrocolloids, such as xanthan gum, guar gum, or pectins, among others.

A healthy gluten-free diet is essential

The treatment of pregnant women with celiac disease should be guided and supervised by the treating obstetrician and the nutrition specialist. They should receive all the necessary nutrients for the mother and baby through a healthy, balanced, and energy-balanced diet. Iron, folate, calcium, and iodine supplements will be given according to medical indication.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Asociación de Celiacos de Granada. (2018). Taller de Panes con Mixes Caseros.
  • Chancahuaña, M. (2017). Efectos Saludables de los Pseudocereales. [Trabajo Final de Grado, Madrid]. CORE.
  • Davila, Marbelly A., Sangronis, Elba, & Granito, Marisela. (2003). Leguminosas germinadas o fermentadas: alimentos o ingredientes de alimentos funcionales. Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición53(4), 348-354. Recuperado en 27 de febrero de 2023, de
  • Fundación Española de Nutrición. Arroz. Disponible en:
  • Gutiérrez-Dorado, R., Ayala-Rodríguez, A. E., Milán-Carrillo, J., López-Cervantes, J., GarzónTiznado, J. A., López-Valenzuela, J. A., Paredes-López, O., and Reyes-Moreno, C. 2008. Technological and nutritional properties of flours and tortillas from nixtamalized and extruded quality protein maize (Zea mays L.). Cereal Chemistry, 85:808–816.
  • Sindhu, Ritu & Khatkar, B.. (2019). Pseudocereals: Nutritional Composition, Functional Properties, and Food Applications. 10.1201/9780429242793-6.
  • Szalay, J. (2018) Quinoa: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts. Live Science.
  • Trombino, S., Serini, S., Di Nicuolo, F., Celleno, L., Andò, S., Picci, N., Calviello, G. and Palozza, P. 2004. Antioxidant effect of ferulic acid in isolated membranes and intact cells: 249 Synergistic Interactions with α-Tocopherol, β-Carotene, and Ascorbic Acid. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52:2411–2420

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.