Rice is gluten-free in its natural form, but some boxed rice mixes contain thickeners that have wheat gluten. Learn about which ones to avoid
Rice is gluten-free in its natural form. Not all boxed rice mixes, however, are gluten-free. Gluten is present in flavored rice mixes such as:
- Instant rice
- Rice pilaf
- Sushi rice
Flavored rice mixes may contain thickeners and sauces that have wheat gluten. And if the rice comes into contact with gluten-containing grains such as barley, rye, or wheat when harvesting, processing, or packing, the rice can become cross-contaminated.
When in doubt, read the ingredients list carefully and contact the manufacturer if you have questions.
Which types of rice are gluten-free?
All plain rice varieties are naturally gluten-free and should be fine as long as it is eaten without seasonings that contain gluten:
- Brown rice
- White rice
- Jasmine rice
- Wild rice
- Basmati rice
- Arborio rice
- Glutinous rice (despite sounding like it's loaded with gluten, the name refers to its final sticky form when cooked and not to the fact that it contains gluten)
What is gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein found in certain grains and helps foods retain their shape by holding the structure together.
While several types of wheat contain gluten (durum, semolina, spelt, farro, etc.) gluten can be found in grains other than wheat such as barley, rye, and triticale (a rye/wheat hybrid). Examples of common gluten-containing foods include:
- Bread, rolls, English muffins, etc.
- Flour tortillas
- Ready-to-eat cereals and granolas
- Gravy and sauces (flour can be used as a thickener)
- Cookies, cakes, and other baked goods
- Beer and other malt beverages
Food manufacturers also include gluten-containing ingredients in processed foods, even those that appear to be naturally gluten-free. Examples of gluten-containing processed foods include:
- Flavored potato chips
- Salad dressings and marinades
- Processed lunch meats
- Energy bars
- Soy sauce
To be considered gluten-free, a food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Therefore, if you're trying to avoid gluten, make sure to read the ingredient list and look for gluten-free labeling.
Who should avoid gluten?
Over time, eating gluten despite have gluten sensitivity can cause the following complications:
What is a gluten-free diet?
If you have wheat allergy or celiac disease, maintaining a healthy gluten-free diet is critical for overall health. Focus on increasing the amount of whole foods in your diet, which will naturally make less room for wheat and processed foods without feeling restrictive.
Foods to incorporate in a gluten-free diet include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Unprocessed, lean meats and poultry
- Most low-fat dairy products
You can also eat the following gluten-free grains:
- Rice (white and brown)