what foods contain gluten?
Answering the question, “what foods contain gluten” isn’t as simple as a black and white answer. The following is a comprehensive list of foods that contain gluten. The list is broken up into two major segments – Foods that absolutely contain gluten, and foods/food ingredients that may contain gluten.
This list can be used as a guideline for those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Many items listed below are traditionally considered safe. However, it should be noted that many of the traditionally safe grains have been studied to cause and to contribute to damage yet they continue to be recommended by the gluten free food industry.
The difference between a traditional gluten free diet and the TRUE gluten free diet can be found in this video tutorial.
avoid these foods
- Barley (malt)
- Durum (semolina)
- Corn (maize)* (for a list of hidden corn ingredients, go here)
- Rice (does not include wild rice varieties but does include brown rice)*
*These grains are classically considered gluten free, but are not recommended on a TRUE gluten free diet. If you would like to learn more about why these other grains should be avoided, watch this video.
*** These items are technically not grains, but are at high risk for cross contamination and not recommended on a TRUE gluten free diet unless verification can be obtained. These pseudo cereals are also very high in glutamic acid and should be discouraged as substitutes for patients with neurological symptoms.
Alcoholic Beverages That Contain Gluten
- Malted beverages
- Grain based spirits (many claim that distillation removes gluten…Gluten Free Society recommends avoidance regardless)
food additives or processed foods that can contain gluten
Many of the terms below are commonly found in processed foods. The terms are ambiguous and have multiple meanings. For example, modified food starch can be sourced from wheat, corn, and potato. Most of the time the label does not differentiate this information openly. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you call the manufacturer to confirm that they are not made from grain based ingredients before attempting to consume them. It should also be noted that regardless of gluten free status, many of the ingredients below are simply not healthy, and you would do better avoiding them anyway.
- Artificial Colors
- Artificial Flavors
- Baking powder (commonly contains grain – wheat or corn)
- Bouillon cubes or stock cubes
- Candy may be dusted with wheat flour. Check our gluten free candy guide
- Canned soups – Most are not acceptable.
- Caramel color and flavoring
- Cheese spreads & other processed cheese foods.
- Chocolate – may contain malt flavoring.
- Cold cuts, Wieners, Sausages – may have gluten due to cereal fillers.
- Dip mixes
- Dry roasted nuts & honey roasted nuts
- Dry sauce mixes
- Extenders and binders
- French fries in restaurants – Same oil may be used for wheat-containing items.
- Gravies – check out thickening agent and liquid base.
- Honey Hams – can be based with wheat starch in coating.
- Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Hydroxypropylated Starch
- Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt – check all dairy products for added ingredients.
- Instant Teas & Coffees – cereal products may be included in the formulation.
- MSG and Spices – may contain gluten.
- Maltodextrin (wheat or corn based)
- Mayonnaise – check thickener and grain based vinegar ingredients
- Modified food starch
- Mustard – Mustard powder may contain gluten
- Natural Colors
- Natural Flavors
- Non Dairy Creamer
- Oil, frying – Check for cross contamination or corn based oils.
- Poultry and meats – Check out the flavorings and basting and inquire about meat glue
- Pregelatinized starch
- Seasonings (check labels)
- Smoke flavors
- Sour cream – May contain modified food starch of indeterminate source.
- Soy Sauce
- Textured vegetable protein
- Vegetable gum
- Vegetable protein
- Vitamin supplements (different brands contain grain based ingredients – check the labels carefully)
Many people want to use wheat, barley, rye, and oat grass (not the seed) as a supplement in the diet. These grasses are commonly found in “green drink” shake products.
Technically, these do not contain gluten as they are the grass part of the plant. However; it is recommended that these be avoided to prevent the possibility of cross contamination. Go here if you are looking for a grass free greens drink.
Non-edible items that may contain gluten
- Stamps & envelopes
- Hairspray & Shampoo
- Pet Food
- Medications & Vitamins
Research has identified that gluten from mother’s diet passes into her milk, therefore if her breastfeeding child is gluten sensitive he/she may react to mother’s milk.
A majority of gluten sensitive individuals do not tolerate milk or dairy based foods. The staple diet for commercial dairy cows is grain. Whether or not glutens from feeding cows grain crosses into dairy is still in question and has not been adequately studied. Some research shows that dairy can be very problematic to those who already have gastrointestinal inflammation.
Additionally, some research shows that processed dairy (using the enzyme microbial transglutaminase) actually triggers a gluten-like reaction in those with gluten sensitivity.
That being said, common sense of the obvious should supersede the decision to use dairy. Gluten Free Society recommends avoiding dairy for at least 6 months. Beyond this, it is recommended that any dairy in the diet comes directly from pasture fed cows if any at all.
- Meat glue
AKA – microbial transglutaminase. Several researchers have pointed out that dairy foods processed with this enzyme may contribute to intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and cause gluten-like reactions.
- Lactase deficiency
Lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugar, lactose, found in dairy is commonly found to be low in those diagnosed with celiac disease. This deficiency contributes to dairy intolerance and symptoms of gas, bloating, and indigestion.
A protein found in A1 milk which has been linked to increases in intestinal inflammation, digestive symptoms, and the development of autoimmune disease.
- Molecular mimicry of gluten – Research shows that casein proteins found in dairy can mimic gluten leading to similar inflammatory damage and symptoms. This discovery has spawned the gluten free/casein free (GFCF) diet.
- Added hormones – A number of researchers believe that many of the hormones found in dairy may contribute to the formation of breast, endometrial, and prostate tumors.
- Added gums Often times used as thickening agents in dairy products, some gums can be difficult to digest for an already damaged intestinal tract. Additionally, research has shown that some gums may also contribute to inflammation.
For more in depth info on gluten in dairy, check out the links below.
*NOTE – there is no such thing as a complete comprehensive list of food items that contain gluten. Manufacturers regularly change their ingredients, mislabel, have product recalls, etc. This is why Gluten Free Society’s stance is to avoid processed and packaged foods as much as possible as well as to avoid eating out as much as possible. You cannot control the mistakes or ethical considerations of others.