Orzo & Gluten

If you suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you must eliminate all sources of gluten from your diet. Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains. Following a gluten-free diet takes some practice because not every food or food ingredient that contains gluten is obvious. Orzo, often found in foods like rice pilaf, is one such source of gluten.

Orzo resembles rice and is found in many dishes. Credit: Marek Uliasz/Hemera/Getty Images


Orzo is a pasta made out of semolina, also called durum wheat flour. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale and oats. Orzo is on the list of foods you need to avoid if you cannot consume gluten.


If you have celiac disease, it harms your body to eat gluten-containing foods such as orzo. You may cause damage to your small intestine even if you don't notice immediate symptoms. When damage occurs, needed nutrients are absorbed poorly in your body. Continued damage can lead to a host of disorders including osteoporosis and malnutrition. More immediate symptoms can include anemia, digestive upset like bloating and flatulence, vomiting or nausea, abdominal cramps or pain, constipation, diarrhea, weight loss and general malaise. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 percent of the general population. The only treatment for celiac disease is avoiding gluten.

Sensitivity or Allergy

Gluten can cause a reaction in your intestines and immune system even if you do not have celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity causes adverse reactions that can vary from person to person. Some of these are similar to the adverse reactions found in celiac disease, though intestinal damage does not occur. Symptoms can range from body aches to migraines to bloating to exhaustion. In some people, gluten also can cause a classic allergic reaction with symptoms like hives, congestion or possibly fatal anaphylaxis. Avoiding gluten is the only way to alleviate a gluten allergy or sensitivity.

Common Foods

Watch out for orzo in foods like soups, rice mixes, salads and pesto. This rice-shaped pasta is smaller than a pine nut. Read food labels at stores for gluten-containing ingredients like orzo. If you are new to gluten-free eating, examine the foods in your pantry and cupboards for orzo and other gluten-containing ingredients and avoid eating these foods.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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