Gluten is the main protein found in cereal grains like wheat, barley and rye. It provides moisture and elasticity to foods to help maintain its shape and it also provides puffy and chewy texture to bread , .
Consumption of gluten is usually safe for most people, but people with celiac disease or those who are sensitive to gluten should avoid its consumption due to its serious health effects .
Also, most healthy individuals restrict gluten from their diets due to many reasons, such as to improve gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms or have a perception that gluten is harmful to their health .
If you are following a gluten-free diet, you need to select foods that are free of gluten. Read on to know the foods that you should add to your gluten-free diet.
1. Whole grains
The whole grains that contain zero gluten and should be a part of your gluten-free diet are quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, oats, millet, amaranth, teff, arrowroot, sorghum, tapioca and buckwheat. Also, while purchasing whole grains such as oats, check the label carefully to see if it's gluten-free as they may have been contaminated with gluten while processing .
A few whole grains contain gluten and should be avoided. They are rye, barley, triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye) and wheat and all varieties like whole wheat, bulgur, farro, wheat berries, graham, farina, kamut, bromated flour, durum, spelt, etc.
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2. Fruits and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables that are naturally gluten-free include bananas, apples, berries, citrus fruits, peaches pears, bell peppers, green leafy veggies, cruciferous veggies, mushrooms, starchy vegetables, carrot, onion, radish and green beans.
However, beware of some processed fruits and vegetables that may possess gluten-containing ingredients like malt, modified food starch, maltodextrin and hydrolyzed wheat protein. These ingredients are added to give flavour or used as thickening agents .
Note: Make sure to check the label for gluten in foods like canned fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and vegetables, frozen fruits and vegetables and pre-chopped fruits and vegetables that are readily available in the markets.
3. Dairy products
Milk, butter, ghee, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream and cream are some of the dairy products that are naturally free of gluten.
However, dairy products such as ice cream, processed cheese products and flavoured milk and yogurt should be avoided as they may contain gluten-containing ingredients such as thickeners, modified food starch and malt .
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4. Protein-rich foods
Animal protein sources such as red meat, poultry, seafood and plant-based protein sources such as legumes, soy foods (tofu, tempeh, edamame, etc) and nuts and seeds do not contain gluten and can be a part of your gluten-free diet.
However, stay away from processed meats, cold cut meat, ground meat and meats that have been combined with sauces and marinades because they may contain gluten-containing ingredients like soy sauce and malt vinegar .
White vinegar, distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, tamari and coconut aminos are some of the spices, sauces and condiments that contain zero gluten. And some spices, sauces and condiments like mayonnaise, tomato sauce, pickles, barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard sauce, dry spices, salad dressing, rice vinegar, marinades and pasta sauce contain gluten-containing ingredients like wheat flour, modified food starch and malt. These ingredients are added to them to add flavour or used as a stabilising agent.
6. Fats and oils
Fats and oils which are naturally free of gluten are coconut oil, avocado and avocado oil, olives and olive oil, butter, ghee, vegetable and seed oils. And avoid using cooking sprays and oils with added flavours or spices as they may contain gluten-containing ingredients.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, you should include these gluten-free beverages such as coffee, natural fruit juice, tea, lemonade, sports drink and energy drink and some alcoholic beverages like wine and beer made from buckwheat or sorghum. And beverages such as beer made with gluten-containing grains, non-distilled liquors and malt beverages should be avoided .
Note: Ensure that beverages like distilled liquor, store-bought smoothie and beverages that contain added flavours do not contain gluten.
There are plenty of gluten-free foods which are healthy and nutritious that can be a part of your daily gluten-free diet. Avoid foods such as wheat, rye and barley and check the food labels carefully before purchasing any food products as they may contain gluten-containing ingredients.
Q. What can gluten free people eat?
A. Fruits and vegetables, dairy products such as milk, butter, ghee and cheese, whole grains like quinoa, wild rice, oats, buckwheat, poultry and legumes.
Q. Who should eat gluten free food?
A. People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity should eat gluten-free foods.
Q. Are sweet potatoes gluten free?
A. Yes, all varieties of potatoes including sweet potatoes are gluten free.
Q. Are eggs gluten free?
A. Yes, eggs are naturally gluten-free.