Gluten is a protein commonly found in many types of grain crops, such as barley, rye and wheat. Some people cannot eat gluten because of a disorder such as gluten intolerance or celiac disease, in which a person's immune system mistakenly attacks ingested gluten and damages the small intestines. People with gluten intolerance often need to follow a strict gluten-free diet. Rice does not contain gluten, making rice a safe gluten-free food.
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Rice and Gluten
Unlike wheat, rye and barley, the proteins in rice do not include gluten. Rice does contain significant levels of other proteins, and provides all nice essential amino acids, according to a paper published in 1992 in the "Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association." Rice also provides high levels of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Foods made from rice are often used as gluten-free substitutes.
You can use rice flour as a substitute for wheat flour in gluten-free cooking. Other types of gluten-free flour may also be used, such as corn, millet, quinoa or amaranth. To make up for the lack of gluten, you will need to use some other thickening and binding agent, such as guar gum, xanthan gum or eggs.
Hidden Gluten in Rice
Even though rice itself does not naturally contain gluten, some pre-packaged rice dishes may contain added gluten, warns the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Gluten is often added to processed, packaged foods to improve consistency. Brown rice syrup also usually contains added gluten. If you are trying to follow a gluten-free diet, check the ingredients of any packaged rice mixes you purchase.
Other Sources of Hidden Gluten
Due to the thick, elastic, binding properties of gluten, it is added to many types of food as a thickening agent. For example, many soups, sauces, gravies and seasonings often contain added gluten. In addition, gluten is added to a variety of other unexpected foods, including, potato chips, candy, communion wafers, french fries and lunch meat. Trying to follow a strict-gluten free diet and be challenging and requires constant checking of food labels, warns the NDDIC.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; What I Need to Know About Celiac Disease; March 2011
- Colorado State Univeristy; Gluten-Free Baking; F. Watson, et al.; April 2009
- "Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association"; Effect of Processing on Availability of Essential Amino Acids in Rice Flour and Cooked Rice; M.M. el Shafei, et al.; 1992
- Colorado State University; Gluten-Free Diets; Stephanie Wallner, et al.; Fall 2006