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Gluten-Free Foods and Snacks

Gluten-Free Foods and Snacks

If you are looking for a list of gluten-free foods and snacks, you have come to the right place! There are many reasons as to why you may want to go gluten-free, and this article can help you.

What is gluten? Should I go gluten-free?

Gluten is a type of protein that is naturally found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. Recently, gluten has been given a bad rap, although whole wheat and other grains are considered very healthy.

Gluten is largely an issue for people with gluten intolerance or sensitivity. This is similar to conditions such as lactose intolerance, or being allergic to the sugar in milk. Patients who have celiac disease are often the most sensitive to gluten.

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If a person with celiac disease or gluten intolerance unknowingly eats something with gluten, they may experience unwanted symptoms. Some symptoms include mild bloating, fatigue, changes in bowel movements, severe weight loss, malnutrition, and inflammation. In autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, the body reacts to gluten in the gut by mistakenly attacking and damaging its own tissues.

There is no cure for celiac disease and one of the few treatments available is to prescribe a gluten-free diet. While going gluten-free is helpful for celiac patients, avoiding gluten is not necessary for most healthy individuals. Consult your doctor if you have concerns regarding celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

List of gluten-free foods and snacks

Rice

This may come as a surprise, but all varieties of rice are naturally gluten-free. Yes, even “glutinous” rice is actually gluten-free. You can eat white, red, black, or any other variety of rice available at the grocery. Avoid rice or rice products that may have been processed or mixed with other grains like wheat. In this case, traces of gluten may trigger symptoms.

Corn

Corn is another popular grain used in a wide range of products, both edible and inedible. Cornmeal and corn flour can be used as an alternative to rice and wheat flours.

Cassava

Tubers like cassava, kamote, and potatoes are starchy vegetables that do not contain any gluten. Powders made from these vegetables, like tapioca starch, are also considered gluten-free. If you are required to control your carb and sugar intake, try to limit your consumption of these starches.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a seed-like crop that provides essential amino acids, fiber, and carbohydrates. In addition, it contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are found in grains, minus the gluten.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables contain many essential vitamins and are a good source of fiber. For people with inflammatory bowel disease, such as celiac disease, dietary fiber is important to reduce flare-ups and improve digestive health.

Milk and other dairy products

Milk is a quick and easy beverage that goes well with a wide variety of drinks and recipes. If you are lactose intolerant, you should avoid dairy products. Some alternatives to cow’s milk would be almond and soy milk.

Beans

Beans are a good source of protein, especially for vegetarians, vegans, and those who are asked to limit their intake of meat. These are all gluten-free unless they are mixed with wheat or other grains.

Nuts

Like beans, nuts also contain significant amounts of protein. Nuts like almonds have so-called good oils that help boost your brain and skin’s health. The fat and protein content in nuts also help keep your appetite in check, which is helpful if you’re looking to lose weight.

Meat, seafood, and poultry products

Moderate amounts of lean meat provide the majority of protein in the average diet. Too much animal protein, such as beef or pork, can contribute to high cholesterol and fat in the body. While meat is generally good, it should be eaten in moderation along with high-fiber vegetables.

Wheatgrass

Despite the name, wheatgrass is gluten-free (unlike wheat grains). While wheatgrass and wheat are of the same plant, wheatgrass is the young sprouts of wheat and wheat grains are the seeds. Wheatgrass is nutrient-rich, low in calories, and found in many detox drinks.

gluten-free foods and snacks

List of food to avoid

Wheat

The number one food to avoid in a gluten-free diet is wheat. Wheat is an ingredient in flour, pasta, noodles, and bread. Some food manufacturers separate the gluten from the wheat grains to make gluten-free breads, noodles, and pasta. However, if you have a wheat allergy you should still avoid these.

Cakes, breads, and pastries

Because the majority of baked goods are made with wheat flour, these should be avoided. Look for labels that state these baked goods were made with gluten-free ingredients before taking a bite. Watch out for ingredients like wheat, barley, rye, and buckwheat.

Beer

You may not have expected to see beer on this list, but the fact is that it is made from barley grains. Despite being fermented to create the alcohol, the gluten content still remains. Other alcoholic beverages such as vodka and wine are not made from grains and are considered gluten-free.

Cereal

Always check the label and ingredients list to determine if the product is gluten-free. While corn is considered safe, cereals such as corn puffs or corn flakes can be misleading as these typically contain wheat or barley as well. Oatmeal is gluten-free but is often in contact with other grains during processing.

Pasta and noodles

Aside from rice, noodles make up a large portion of the Asian diet. Depending on the ingredients used, the pasta or noodles may have gluten. Rice noodles (bihon) and mung bean noodles (sotanghon) are gluten-free, but egg noodles and Italian pastas typically contain wheat flour.

Key takeaways

Gluten has become a hot topic in the diet and nutrition world. Experts agree that gluten found in food is not a problem for the general population. There is no health benefit of the gluten-free diet for patients that do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, if you need to avoid gluten, refer to the list of gluten-free foods and snacks here.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

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Sources

Dietary Factors and Mucosal Immune Response in Celiac Disease Patients Having Persistent Symptoms Despite a Gluten-free Diet https://journals.lww.com/jcge/Citation/2019/08000/Dietary_Factors_and_Mucosal_Immune_Response_in.12.aspx Accessed November 26, 2020

Gluten-free diet https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530 November 26, 2020

What is gluten? https://celiac.org/gluten-free-living/what-is-gluten/ Accessed November 26, 2020

Gluten: a benefit or harm to the body? https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/gluten/ Accessed November 26, 2020

Gluten-free foods https://celiac.org/gluten-free-living/gluten-free-foods/ Accessed November 26, 2020

BDA food fact sheet: wheat free diet https://www.bda.uk.com/resourceDetail/printPdf/?resource=wheat-free-diet#:~:text=Wheat%20is%20a%20main%20ingredient,pasta%2C%20pastries%20and%20Yorkshire%20puddings. Accessed November 26, 2020

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Jan 15
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