Is White Rice Gluten Free?

A gluten free diet is a special type of diet that doesn’t include the protein gluten.


Gluten can be found in grains like barley, wheat and rye. People who are suffering from gluten intolerance are advised to avoid wheat and other wheat containing products like cereals, cookies, crackers, cakes, pastas, oats, soups, salad dressings, processed meats and so on (more about gluten free cooking here).


White Rice & Gluten Free Eating


Gluten refers to a protein component that forms in grains as they grown in fields. Barley produces hordein, wheat forms gliadin, rye produces secalin and rice produces a form of gluten known as oryzenin. A person who has been diagnosed with Celiac disease or CD produces an immune response to the gluten components that can be found in rye, wheat and barley.


However, the protein from rice doesn’t generally cause the same hypersensitivity reaction as wheat or other gluten exposure would. There can still be problems arising from rice consumption related the the anti-nutrient content however white rice is largely free of these problems since the bran has been removed.


Is White Rice Healthy for Individuals With Celiac Disease?


When a person is diagnosed to have Celiac disease, the intestinal tract reacts to gluten as a harmful substance in the body. This form of autoimmune disorder damages the lining in the small intestines which are responsible for nutrient absorption from the foods that you eat. Today, the only way to prevent this intestinal damage is to follow a gluten free diet. Foods with rice and rice flour are generally known as ‘safe’ for gluten free diets. However, gluten free products that are made from rice flour may be contaminated with gluten if manufactured in the same factory with other wheat based food items.


White Rice & a Gluten Free Diet


Is white rice gluten free? Yes, it does not contain the agglutinin protein like wheat although it does contain haemagglutinin lectin. White rice flour can be substituted for wheat in many pastry products. A good way for you to eliminate the gluten contact among foods is to make baked products at home using white rice flour or brown rice flour. Try to substitute a cup of brown rice to one cup of wheat flour in the baked recipes. Also known as glutinous flour, sweet rice flour contains more starch compared to the white rice or brown varieties. Glutinous flour is also made to thicken the consistency of soups and gravies.


White Rice Nutritional Value


White rice is a staple food in most Asian countries and serves as the main food source for over 50% of the world’s population. White rice is a grain that has been refined; the bran, husk and germ layers are already removed, leaving the inner kernel. Removing the outer layer reduces much of its nutritional value but also eliminates the anti-nutrient properties that go along with the bran. Today, there are enriched rice products with nutrients to “make up for” its original nutritional value.


A cup of cooked white rice contains about 165 calories while enriched parboiled rice has about 205 calories with the same serving.


Things to Consider When Buying White Rice


White rice flour is made by finely grinding white rice and is an excellent gluten free substitute for wheat flour among people with CD. The Celiac Sprue Association has categorized white rice as ‘gluten free’ along with other rice products like precooked rice, long grain rice, risotto, japonica rice and instant rice.


When you are shopping for gluten free grains, make sure you do your homework. Even though white rice is gluten free, it can still be contaminated during the manufacturing stage. The NFCA also features an extensive online listing of gluten free brands, markets and vendors to make your search easier.


Many people with gluten intolerance or Celiac actually find that they do better avoiding all grain products and not just wheat. Of course this can make cooking a bit tougher. The good news is there are a lot of gluten free cooking resources.


If you’re having a hard time avoiding gluten in the kitchen you can get started with grain and gluten free cooking by clicking right here (our gluten free recipes post).


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