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The Food Court:This one is not for the birds

New Contributor II
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Sunflower seeds. Sesame seeds. Caraway seeds. Rye seeds. Pumpkin seeds. Surely, there must be an edible seed for everyone’s taste. Un-hulled sunflower seeds are a baseball player’s delight. Rye, caraway and sesame seeds dress up a variety of breads, including bagels. And roasted pumpkin seeds are a Halloween treat for many.

And now we can add another one to the list that will, no doubt, surprise you: canary seeds. Yes, canary seeds for human beings.

With 3 million celiac disease patients in the United States suffering from gastrointestinal and other symptoms from eating grains, including rye, barley and wheat, researchers went on a quest to find new gluten-free options. They discovered that special canary seeds could be added to the existing gluten-free diet of rice, teff, corn, buckwheat sorghum and quinoa.

Writing in the ACS journal Agricultural & Food Chemistry, Joyce Irene Boye and colleagues explain that the new variety of canary seed, minus the tiny hairs of the seed, works as a gluten-free cereal for people. Previously, the hairs –– included when used as food for birds –– had made canary seed inedible for humans.

The team said that the new canary seeds can be used to make flour that can be used in cookies, cakes breads and other products, as well as for cereal. And this new product, which has more protein than most other grain, also is loaded with other nutrients.

If you allergic to gluten, would you try this new canary seed “grain” or bake breads with a canary-seed flour? Would you “Tweet” about this?

“Analysis of Glabrous Canary Seeds by ELISA, Mass Spectrometry and Western Blotting for the Absence of Cross-reactivity with Major Plant Food Allergens”

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing


Credit: Credit: Steve Hurst, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

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