What is Gluten?
In order to understand what contains gluten, it is important to understand what gluten is. Gluten is a specific type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Called prolamins, these proteins are believed to be undigestible for people who suffer from a variety of digestive disorders including Celiac’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Label Reading is Key
One key to avoiding gluten is reading labels. Today more and more manufacturers are stating which products contain gluten, or are processed on machinery which also processes gluten. Moreover, reading labels saves time and offers options at the supermarket.
Where Can You Find Gluten?
Gluten can be found in all kinds of foods. The easiest way to avoid gluten is to recognize terms that are used to identify the presence of gluten.
- Wheat Gluten: (1 cup = approximately 420 calories, 72 grams of protein, 24 carbs, and 3 grams of fiber) Wheat gluten is used as a protein source added to foods and marketed to individuals choosing to limit or omit animal protein from their diet. In Japanese markets, it is called “Fu.” In vegetarian foods and markets, it is referred to as “Seitan.” In groceries it is also called “wheat meat.” It can also be found in textured vegetable protein. It provides a meat like texture and consistency.
- Semolina: (1 cup = 601 calories, 21 grams of protein, 122 carbs, and 7 grams of fiber) Flours and pastas containing semolina contain gluten. It is possible to purchase gluten free pasta and semolina, but the label must indicate the semolina is gluten-free.
- Barley/Malt: (1 cup = 696 calories,19.2 grams protein, 154 carbs, and 2.14 grams of fiber) Believe it or not, beer contains gluten, as does fructan, a sweetener made from barley, malt, malt flavoring, barley malt, malt vinegar, brown rice syrup and caramel coloring.
- Miso, maltose and smoke flavorings: (1 cup miso = 547 calories, 32 grams of protein, 73 carbs and 15 grams of fiber) Care should be given with respect to these ingredients as they may contain gluten as a result of processing.
- Wheat starch: (50 grams = approximately 180 calories, 0 protein, 44 carbs, and 0 fiber)
- Spelt: (1 cup cooked = 246 calories, 11 grams of protein, 51 carbs, 8 grams of fiber)
- Kamut: (1 cup uncooked = 627 calories, 27 grams of protein, 131 carbs, and 17 grams of fiber)
- Dextrin: (nutritional values vary depending upon grain used) This is an incompletely hydrolyzed starch manufactured by dry heating a variety of grains, including wheat. As it is not required to indicate the source of this ingredient, care should be taken to avoid dextrin, unless the label indicates it is gluten-free.
- MSG: (no nutritional value) Mono-sodium glutamate
- Kasha: (1 cup = 680 calories, 24 grams of protein, 140 carbs, and 8 grams of fiber)
- Bulgar: (1 cup = 602 calories, 19 grams of protein, 129 carbs, and 3 grams fiber)
- Gum: (1 piece = 5 calories, 0 grams of protein, 2 carbs and 0 fiber)
- Wheat and wheat products: (nutritional values vary depending upon the item) Including pastries, breads, pies, cookies, cakes, donuts, ice cream cones, pasta, macaroni, stuffing, pretzels, tortillas, cereal, breaded meats and fish, crackers, pancakes, waffles, croissants, bagels and muffins.
Where You Least Expect It
Gluten can be found where you least expect it in make-up, lotions, mouthwash, toothpaste, glue, paints, crafting materials, powdered gloves, cleaning items, or even medications. Pharmaceutical manufacturers have information readily available with respect to the presence of gluten in specific medications. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if this is a concern.
The Key is in the Label
With knowledge comes the ability to be a confident consumer. Understanding the variety of terms used for products that contain gluten is the key to success. When it comes to gluten free shopping, a little time, and a bit of patience, are all you will need to become a confident gluten free shopper as you learn what contains gluten.
Dunne, Lavon. Nutrition Almanac; 1990
Celiac Solution: Hidden Sources of Gluten - www.celiacsolution.com
the-gluten-free-chef.com: List of foods containing gluten - www.the-gluten-free-chef.com