Is Chocolate Gluten Free?

When adopting a gluten free diet, it can feel overwhelming to understand what is safe to eat. One indulgence that many people inquire about is chocolate. Begging the question, is chocolate gluten free?

The good news is that chocolate in its purest form – simply roasted cacao beans – is gluten free. However, many chocolate products have gluten containing ingredients added to them that make them no longer gluten free. In addition, some chocolate is made in factories where gluten containing ingredients are used for other products. This puts the otherwise gluten free chocolate at risk of cross contamination.

This article will discuss what to watch out for when purchasing chocolate on a gluten free diet with Gluten Free Society.

What is Gluten?

Before we get into the discussion on gluten in chocolate, here is a refresher on gluten and celiac disease to provide some context to our conversation. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system perceives gluten as an invader. This causes your body to launch an immune response that causes inflammation and damage to the intestines. 

Those who have celiac disease need to avoid gluten. Gluten is often defined as a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. However, we know that gluten protein can be found in ALL grains. Common foods containing gluten include pasta, bread, baked goods, and beer. If you think you have gluten intolerance, you can take our sensitivity test to learn more!

Ingredients To Avoid In Chocolate

Chocolate manufacturers often mix cocoa with other gluten containing ingredients in order to create their product. Common gluten containing ingredients in chocolate include the following:

  • Barley malt 
  • Barley malt flavoring or extract
  • Brewers yeast
  • Bulgur
  • Caramel color
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn flour
  • Dextrose
  • Durum
  • Farro
  • Graham flour
  • Malt
  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavor
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Matzo
  • Modified food starch
  • Rice flour
  • Rice syrup
  • Rye flour
  • Wheat flour

For a comprehensive list of hidden forms of gluten, check out our master list here

In addition to gluten containing ingredients, there are a number of other ingredients commonly added to chocolate that are inherently unhealthy. Many food additives have been suspected to perpetuate health issues in those with celiac and non celiac  gluten sensitivity These other additives to watch out for include the following: 

  • Genetically modified (GMO) soy
  • Processed and refined sugars
  • Emulsifiers, like polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR)
  • Artificial flavors and colors
  • Preservatives, like tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
  • Vanillin
  • Gums and stabilizers
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Industrial seed oils, like cottonseed oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil
  • Carrageenan 

What Kind of Chocolate is Gluten Free & Healthy? 

Fortunately, there are few brands that are dedicated to high quality ingredients and testing that make products that are safe to eat on a gluten free diet. Of course, it is always a best practice to check the ingredients before purchasing for your gluten free diet

  • Evolved Chocolate Bars are paleo, vegan, and gluten free. They are lightly sweetened with organic coconut sugar. They also have Nut Butter Cups made with coconut butter, almond butter, or hazelnut butter.
  • Hu Kitchen candy bars are certified gluten free and made with real, simple ingredients. They are also vegan, paleo, organic, and fair trade. Hu Kitchen also has Gems and Hunks that are certified gluten free, paleo, organic, and fair trade. They are sweetened with coconut sugar and have as little as three grams of added sugar per serving.

The Bottom Line

Pure, unadulterated chocolate is naturally gluten free. However, it’s important to be on the lookout for additives and other ingredients that contain gluten and other unhealthy fillers. As always, checking the ingredient list on all chocolate products is the best way to ensure your chocolate is gluten free

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