A gluten free diet is recommended for individuals who suffer from gluten intolerance or allergy. The diet restricts certain gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley, oats and rye. Rice on the other hand is permitted. But is rice gluten free?
Plain rice, regardless of whether it is a whole grain brown rice, polished white rice, or exotic black rice, is always considered gluten free since it lacks the gluten lectin agglutinin however there is a little more to the story as you’ll see below.
People who are diagnosed with Celiac disease need to adhere to a gluten free diet to avoid fatal allergic reactions. Celiac disease is a medical condition in which a person is allergic to gluten, a protein component that can be found in barley, wheat, oats and rye foods.
The human body’s immune system reacts to gluten and damages the small intestinal tract, which may lead to poor nutrient absorption. It is crucial for people suffering the disease to avoid foods that contain gluten, including even minor exposure, to prevent an immune reaction.
Rice Products Generally Approved for Gluten Free Diets
Rice is the primary source of carbohydrate in Asian countries like Thailand, Philippines, South Korea, China and etc. It is a starchy grain that provides the carbohydrate component in a gluten free diet. People with Celiac disease are generally told they can enjoy it whether it is served in a steamed rice dish, mixed with other dishes, or made into flour and used for baking.
That said rice does contain anti-nutrient properties (mostly in the bran) such as haemagglutinin lectin and phytates so it is important to evaluate the merits of rice consumption for yourself particularly if you suffer from Celiac disease. For most people eating white rice (bran removed) is fairly harmless provided their tolerance for starch is good (i.e. no insulin resistance). If you’d like to read more about the nutrition profile of rice check out this information.
Rice is a very versatile grain and used in many forms around the world. According to the Gluten Intolerance Group site, rice, rice starch, rice bran, rice flour can be used in cooking. Around 66% of the world’s population relies on rice as the main source of carbohydrate. Brown rice also contains other nutrients such as iron, vitamin D, calcium, niacin, thiamin, and fiber however the phytates in rice can act to bind these nutrients making the unavailable and thus useless to the body . Overall rice is considered as a low-allergen food and is often regarded as one of the ‘safety eats’ in many food sensitivity and allergy lists.
Types of Rice
- Long grain white rice. This is perhaps the most popular kind of rice all over the world. Countries like Thailand and the Philippines produce enormous quantities of rice, but most of it is locally consumed. Quality may vary from one country to another. There is also a rice variety grown in the United States. White rice is simply brown rice without the husk therefore it has fewer nutrients and lacks roughage (probably a good thing since excess fiber isn’t always beneficial).
- Long grain brown rice has more nutrients compared to white rice and has a delicious nutty taste. It’s usually regarded as a source of iron, folate and dietary fiber however as noted above the phytin in rice works to make these nutrients unavailable to the body and it does contain potentially gut damaging lectins.
Rice Flour in Gluten Free Diets
Rice and rice flour are potential additions to your gluten free diet. Many gluten free cereals and baked products contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat. The main thing to keep in mind if you do decide to make rice a regular part of your diet is that white rice is significantly better tolerated in general and especially for individuals with Celiac or allergies.
If you are trying to follow a gluten free diet and find it challenging you aren’t alone. Gluten is hidden in many different foods today and it can be hard to avoid while still eating foods you enjoy. The good news is that you can eat plenty of absolutely delicious foods while still avoiding all the problems that come with eating gluten.
To find out more about how to make delicious, gluten-free meals, snacks and more click here!
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