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Gluten Content of Grains

author image Aglaee Jacob
Aglaee Jacob is a registered dietitian. She has experience working with people who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity issues. Jacob obtained a bachelor of science and a master of science, both in nutrition, from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.
Gluten Content of Grains
Most oats processed in the U.S. are contaminated with gluten. Photo Credit: ff-photo/iStock/Getty Images

Gluten is a protein found in many different grains as a way for the plant to store protein. The gluten content varies between grains, although the exact gluten content present in these foods is not available in food composition tables. Grains can be divided as containing gluten or not. People with celiac disease or gluten intolerance need to go on a gluten-free diet to manage their symptoms and stay healthy. If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you should not eat even small amounts of gluten as even the traces of gluten found in a breadcrumb are enough to cause you health problems.

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Wheat, Barley and Rye

Wheat, barley and rye are the three main gluten-containing grains. The gluten in wheat is named gliadin, while the type of gluten in barley is hordein and the one in rye is secalin. Other species of wheat, such as triticale, kamut and spelt, also contain gluten. All foods made from these grains or the flours made from these grains provide gluten and are not suitable for a gluten-free diet. For example, wheat products such as couscous, bulgur, pasta, bread, pizza dough, crackers and baked goods are all examples of gluten-rich foods.


Oats contain avenin, a type of gluten that is usually not problematic for most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, most oats that are processed in the United States are processed in the same facilities where wheat and other gluten-containing grains are treated. As a result, most oats sold in the U.S. are contaminated with gluten. Choose certified gluten-free oats if you are following a gluten-free diet to prevent introducing gluten in your diet.

Buckwheat, Quinoa and Millet

Millet is a cereal grain with a mildly sweet, nutty flavor. Buckwheat and quinoa are not grasses like the cereal grains are, but their small, plentiful seeds can be used much like cereal grains. All three are perfect options for your gluten-free diet.You can use these grains to replace gluten-containing grains and you will see that some gluten-free products are made from these gluten-free grains. You can make bread and baked goods with buckwheat, use millet instead of pasta to prepare a cold salad and cook quinoa to serve as a porridge for breakfast instead of gluten-contaminated oats.

Rice and Corn

Rice and corn are two gluten-free grains. Your gluten-free diet can use rice-based pasta and noodles instead of the wheat-based option. Sushi, rice and vegetable stir-fries, and chicken and rice soup are appropriate gluten-free dishes. Although corn is often consumed as a vegetable, it actually is a grain and can be part of your gluten-free diet, whether you have it on the cob, creamed or popped. You can also experiment with other gluten-free grains, such as sorghum and teff.

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