Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and related grains, such as spelt and farro. It may also be added to processed foods as a thickening agent. When you have celiac disease, your body reacts negatively to gluten, resulting in damage to your small intestine. This disease affects about 3 million people in the United States, but as many as 18 million additional people may have a nonceliac sensitivity to gluten, reports the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. When you need to eat a gluten-free diet, beans and bean flours are excellent choices to incorporate into your meals.
All beans are naturally gluten-free. This includes kidney beans and chickpeas, as well as lentils, soy and peas. In fact, some gluten-free recipes for baked goods use chickpea flour – also called garbanzo bean flour or besan flour -- as a stand-in for regular wheat flour, with 7/8 cup of the bean flour replacing 1 cup of the wheat variety.
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Gluten-free Cooking with Beans
Although beans themselves contain no gluten, watch out for dishes, particularly at restaurants, that may combine these legumes with gluten-containing ingredients. Chickpea burgers, for example, may be held together with bread crumbs and would not be gluten-free. In addition, some processed foods, such as soy sauce, broth and salad dressing, have gluten, so mixing them with beans could produce a reaction in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Read ingredient lists carefully before using gluten-containing food products in your bean dishes.
- Celiac.com: Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients)
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: Celiac Disease
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
- Celiac.com: Safe Gluten-Free Food List (Safe Ingredients)
- Bob’s Red Mill: Garbanzo Bean Flour
- Colorado State University Extension: Gluten-Free Diet Guide for People with Newly Diagnosed Celiac Disease
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.