If you have a gluten sensitivity and worry about whether you should look for a gluten-free oil, you'll be glad to know that most cooking oils don't contain gluten. Actually, any oil other than soy, including canola oil, is suitable for a soy-free diet.
Soy- and Gluten-Free Oils
According to Beyond Celiac, most cooking oils are naturally gluten free, but it's possible for an oil to come in contact with gluten in the manufacturing process. With this in mind, consumers should read labels and contact the manufacturer if they have any questions about a particular product. If an oil contains additives and flavorings, it's especially important to check the label.
When ordering fried food from a restaurant, ask if the kitchen uses a dedicated fryer to prepare gluten-free menu items, advises Beyond Celiac. Unless the fryer is used strictly for this purpose, it could pose a problem from cross-contact with gluten-containing foods.
Cooking oil spray may or may not be gluten free. Before buying, check the label to see if it contains one of the grains excluded from the gluten-free diet.
The only oil that contains soy is soy oil. However, soy oil generally doesn't cause allergies, since the manufacturing process involves removing the protein, the part of the food that triggers a sensitivity reaction, asserts Stanford Children's Health. To be on the safe side, consult with your allergist before eating foods that contain soy oil.
Who Needs Gluten-Free Foods?
After years of being confined to health-food stores, gluten-free foods are everywhere. Their broad availability is an advantage for the increasing number of people unable to tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat and certain other grain varieties.
Recently, the interest in following a gluten-free diet has surged, and people who don't have an intolerance to gluten have adopted the eating plan. While followers of the diet have heard reports that it promotes weight loss and boosts energy, the claims are based on little or no evidence, says Harvard Health Publishing.
People with celiac disease are unable to tolerate even small amounts of gluten. A mere 50 milligrams of the protein, which is contained in one crouton, can produce an adverse reaction, notes Harvard Health Publishing. In this disorder, gluten stimulates an immune response that harms the small intestine lining. Consequences of this reaction include impaired nutrient absorption from food, which can lead to infertility, seizures, osteoporosis and other health issues.
The Mayo Clinic says that, aside from celiac disease, people may have a related condition called nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which involves symptoms similar to celiac disease but doesn't harm the intestine. Other groups of people who need a gluten-free diet include those with wheat allergies and gluten ataxia, an autoimmune disorder that causes problems with voluntary muscle movements.
What Is Gluten-Free Eating?
The gluten-free diet prohibits wheat, barley, triticale and rye, but it allows grains such as rice, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, millet, cornmeal, flax and soy. Many fresh, unprocessed foods are a part of the diet. These include fruits; vegetables; beans; eggs; most low-fat dairy foods; and lean, unprocessed fish, poultry and meat.
A host of processed foods contain gluten, and some ingredients aren't readily recognizable as prohibited items. So, look for gluten-free labels, unless you're very familiar with all the ingredients that can masquerade as wheat.
Following a gluten-free diet is very challenging because it involves giving up traditional breads, pastas, cereals and beer. Gluten is also present in many other products such as toothpaste, soy sauce, frozen vegetables in sauces, nutritional supplements and foods made with natural flavorings.
Another problem associated with the diet is that it can lead to a deficiency in fiber and vitamins. It's best to consult your doctor before adopting this restrictive eating plan.
What Is a Soy Intolerance?
Soy and soy products, including soy sauce, soy milk and some infant formulas, can trigger an allergic response in people with a soy intolerance, states the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Soy allergy symptoms may involve vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling, hives, weak pulse, confusion, dizziness, blue coloration of skin and tightness of the throat. In rare cases, anaphylaxis occurs. Because the severity of reactions are unpredictable, always keep an epinephrine autoinjector with you.
To manage a soy allergy, be careful to avoid food products that contain soy. Packaged food items are required to clearly list soy or soy-based ingredients on labels. The ACAAI warns that either soy or soy derivatives are found in many processed foods, including canned and baked goods.
Most people with a soy allergy can tolerate refined soybean oil and soy lecithin, but ask your allergist if you should avoid these ingredients.
Consider Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil contains no gluten or soy. Research also links it to an array of health benefits, and doctors broadly consider it one of the healthiest oils to consume. The National Cancer Institute notes that all olive oil varieties are rich in monounsaturated fat.
Extra virgin olive oil contains phenols and other antioxidants, as well as vitamins E and F. Studies indicate that olive oil benefits may include protection against cardiovascular disease and cancers of the colon, breast and prostate.
When cooking oils are exposed to heat, they degrade and produce polar compounds, which are harmful to health. In a June 2018 study published in Acta Scientific Nutritional Health, researchers tested an array of cooking oils to determine how much of the compounds each produces during the cooking process.
They found that extra-virgin olive oil created the least amount, so they concluded it's the safest and most stable cooking oil. The team noted that the performance of extra-virgin olive oil was followed closely by coconut oil, avocado oil and high-oleic acid seed oils.
When adding olive oil to the diet, aim for 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons per day. Research supports that consuming 1 1/2 tablespoons per day may reduce cardiovascular risk, states the Food and Drug Administration. The University of California Davis Olive Center recommends 2 tablespoons per day to help lower blood pressure.
- Beyond Celiac: "Is Oil Gluten-Free?"
- Stanford Children's Health: "Soy Allergy Diet for Children"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Going Gluten-Free Just Because? Here’s What You Need to Know"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gluten-Free Diet"
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Soy Allergy"
- National Cancer Institute: "Olive Oil"
- Acta Scientific Nutritional Health: "Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Changes in Different Commercial Oils During Heating"
- University of California Davis Olive Center: "Olive Oil as Medicine: The Effect on Blood Pressure"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "FDA Completes Review of Qualified Health Claim Petition for Oleic Acid and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease"