Gluten Free Foods – Common gluten-free food items
Found in wheat, barley and rye, the protein gluten can have an adverse affect on individuals with the genetic condition celiac disease. Individuals on a gluten-free diet and those allergic to the protein must be careful to avoid any foods containing gluten.
Since many common food staples like pasta, breads, cereal, potato chips, soups and cakes contain gluten, what can people on a gluten-free diet eat? This is not an exhaustive list, but a basic overview of common gluten-free food items as reported by the National Institutes of Health, the Celiac Sprue Association and other physicians. Always consult your doctor to discuss your specific dietary needs.
Vegetables and fruits
Fresh and plain frozen vegetables are fine to eat. Corn, potato and rice are considered staples of the gluten-free diet. Gluten-free individuals should avoid packaged vegetables with sauces or added ingredients. Even some frozen vegetables these days come with sauces or gravies on them so be sure to check the label on the packaging. The same is true of fruits - plain fruits and fruit juices are ok, while those in pies, crisps or with oats could contain gluten.
All-purpose flour, white and wheat flour are all on the do-not-eat list for those with celiac disease, meaning that most store-made baked goods are off-limits. But rice flour and corn flour are acceptable foods, so if you are on a gluten-free diet you can bake from home with these products. In addition, the following food items are all gluten-free: Butter, margarine, vegetable oils, soybeans, sugar, jelly, honey, pure cocoa, gelatin, and distilled white vinegar.
Whole, reduced-fat and skim milks are all gluten-free, but chocolate milk may contain the protein. Cheeses are tougher to categorize. According to the Celiac Sprue Association, aged hard cheeses like Swiss, cheddar and Parmesan are gluten-free, while other cheeses may contain gluten. Yogurts may contain the substance unless specifically labeled otherwise.
Many individuals on a gluten-free diet are vegan or vegetarian and therefore eschew animal products, but those who do enjoy meat should stick to fresh cuts of meat and fish with no grain additives. Avoid breaded meat food products, those covered in gravy or sauces, or very processed meats such as hot dogs, sausage, meat patties and cold cuts, as they tend to have gluten added somewhere during the processing stages. Eggs and peanut butter are gluten-free foods.
Most carbonated beverages are gluten-free, with root beer a prominent exception. Basic teas and coffees are also fine, but be cautious with specialty coffees with added ingredients. As noted earlier, fruit juices and milk are also gluten-free. Most varieties of beer, however, do contain the protein.
Most of the common food items containing gluten - pasta, bread, cereal, soups, and so on - do come in gluten-free varieties if you’re willing to search a bit to find them. The official definition of “gluten-free” is still a bit of a gray area, but generally, a gluten level of less than 20 parts per million makes a food item “gluten-free.”
Even some food products labeled gluten-free have been found to contain gluten. In 2008, Wellshire Kids brand chicken bites were pulled from Whole Foods after testing revealed gluten levels as high as 2,200 parts per million.
When checking the packaging on food products, look for keywords like starch, flavouring, hydrolyzed, emulsifier, or plant protein. Any of those could indicate the presence of gluten.
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