Is Rice Actually Gluten-Free?
Rice, whether brown, wild, basmati, or jasmine, and even the glutinous variety, are essentially gluten-free. But it's wise to check the label and make sure the gluten count is under 20 ppm. Rice flour is safe, but when using nice noodles or pasta check for contamination with semolina or durum wheat. There are certified gluten-free ready mixes, noodles, or pasta on the market but be warned that they charge a premium.
According to the Food and Drug Association (FDA), grains like rice can be classified as gluten-free as long as there hasn’t been any cross-contamination. But with a mind-boggling array of rice types, flours, and noodles, it can be difficult to know what you’re actually eating. And if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, it’s easy to wonder: “Is rice really gluten-free?”
Rice In All Its Gluten-Free Glory
By definition, rice doesn’t contain gluten. As a result, organizations like Coeliac UK suggest that individuals with a gluten allergy or celiac disease include rice in a balanced diet.1Gluten-free living forums and magazines also peg rice as a go-to grain. You’ll be happy to know that this includes everything from brown and wild rice to fragrant basmati and jasmine. It includes enriched and regular white rice, too. Even glutinous rice, which gets its name from that sticky texture you might associate with gluten, is actually free of the gluten protein.2
In other words, you have choices! So whether you’re health conscious, counting calories, or watching your weight, there’s a good chance you’ll find something you love.
Making Sure Your Rice Is Gluten-Free
Even though rice should be free of gluten, it’s still crucial to read the labels on the products you’re eating. Generally, for a food to be labeled “gluten-free,” regulators require no more than very negligible amounts of gluten (under 20 ppm). At this level, the gluten cannot cause any problems for someone with celiac disease.3
What may not be gluten-free is a ready-to-eat or flavored rice that could contain gluten from added ingredients. So, it’s a good idea to carefully read the labels before consuming these.
What About Rice Products?
Wondering if rice flour makes the cut? You’ll be glad to know that the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends eating rice flour if you are trying to go gluten-free.4 What about rice-based noodles and pasta? Eat these products only if they do not use wheat flour or other gluten ingredients. Sometimes, durum wheat or semolina can make their way into rice pasta – so be careful. One way to play it safe is to look for the “gluten-free” label on the packaging.
However, be aware that buying some gluten-free products like special ready mixes and cake flours, noodles, or pasta can be heavy on the wallet. It may be cheaper (and easier) to pick naturally gluten-free foods and minimize processed foods that are more likely to be cross-contaminated. Like any “specialty” foods, special “gluten-free” products also command a premium. But naturally gluten-free foods don’t have the protein anyway. So you won’t, for instance, have to pay more for “gluten-free” rice or rice flour – you simply buy plain and simple rice or rice flour!
Other Gluten-Free Options
If rice isn’t your thing or you’re looking for more variety, experiment with flour made from soy, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, bean, potato, or nuts. You can also find cassava, tapioca, chia, flax, and yucca flours.5Clearly, the possibilities are endless! A wide range of these alternatives are available in most major supermarkets or online. Your body will adore the variety of grains in your diet!
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||The gluten-free diet, Coeliac UK.|
|2.||↑||Is Rice Gluten-Free? Beyond Celiac.|
|3.||↑||Questions and Answers: Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule, FDA.|
|4.||↑||Eating, Diet, and Nutrition for Celiac Disease, The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|5.||↑||What Can I Eat? Celiac Disease Foundation.|