What Rice Is Gluten Free?

If you’re celiac or on a gluten-free diet, it can be difficult to know which foods are safe to eat. One of these foods is rice.

Available in many different types and consistencies, rice is a food staple that many people eat daily.

Rice is a necessary ingredient in many recipes, but if you’re staying away from gluten, you may be wondering, is rice gluten-free?

In short, the answer is yes! All rice is gluten-free. However, there may be instances where it isn’t, which we’ll cover in this article.

Keep reading to find out what types of rice are gluten-free, as well as what types of rice you should avoid on a celiac diet plan.

What Rice Is Gluten Free

Is Rice Gluten-Free?

As long as it’s in its natural form, all types of rice are gluten-free. Even sticky rice (also known as glutinous or Asian rice) is gluten-free. Glutinous refers to sticky rice’s consistency, not gluten.

This makes rice a great choice for people with celiac disease or those on a gluten-free diet. Many gluten-free food alternatives substitute rice for wheat, such as noodles or flour.

Nevertheless, there are some cases where rice might not be gluten-free. Cross-contamination may occur, which inadvertently adds gluten to foods.

Some rice mixes can contain spices and sauces which have gluten in them. There are also misleading names. Pilaf rice is made with orzo, which isn’t gluten-free, yet the name suggests otherwise.

To be safe, always check the label on what you’re eating to be sure that it’s free from gluten. If you’re still unsure, contact the brand’s manufacturer for further information.

Cross Contamination

Rice doesn’t contain gluten, but wheat, barley, and rye may come into contact with it as it’s being processed. Cross-contamination is a real possibility, so always purchase rice that is certified gluten-free.

Always avoid rice from bulk bins at the store. Other shoppers may use the scoop for gluten-containing foods, which can cause cross-contamination.

Similarly, if you’re eating at a restaurant or away from home, check to see if any extra ingredients add gluten to the rice.

Some restaurants cook rice in their own pan to avoid cross-contact, so see if this is a possibility before you enter.

Sushi Rice

Some types of vinegar are extracted from gluten grains. If these kinds of vinegar affect you, you may want to avoid sushi rice. Many sushi restaurants use grain-based vinegars from wheat or corn.

If you’re eating sushi while dining out, ask for plain white rice. A lot of these places have plain rice ready for stir fry recipes.

Be wary of teriyaki or soy sauce seasoning. A lot of sushi roll fillings are made with soy sauce marinades. Most soy sauces contain wheat, as it makes the sauce thick.

Always stay away from soy sauce, but if you like how it tastes, you can purchase gluten-free varieties to use at home on plain rice.

You’ll also want to avoid California rolls and any sushi that contains crab. Real crab is more expensive, so a lot of places use imitation crab meat.

This is made by grinding down white fish, then mixing it with flavorings, wheat and starches, so it looks like real crab.

Always ask if they use real crab when you’re dining out, and look at the menu to see if anything contains ‘surimi’. This means imitation crab, so you’ll want to avoid these options.

Stay away from tempura sushi. Whether it’s vegetables or meats, these types of sushi are coated with a tempura batter.

This batter is made with wheat flour, then cooked in a fryer which is used for other gluten-containing foods. 

Look at the menu to see which foods are labeled ‘crispy’ or ‘tempura’, and avoid these completely.

If the sushi restaurant can’t tell you what foods are gluten-free or not, order sashimi. This is simply plain fish.

You can also get steamed rice on the side with no vinegar, but you can add sesame seeds or avocado slices for flavor.

Celiac Disease Symptoms And Rice

Celiac disease symptoms are different from food allergy symptoms, so it can be difficult to know what to look out for.

If you eat wheat, your eyes may water and become itchy. More seriously, you may have trouble breathing.

Other symptoms include stomach pains, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation. Some individuals also get a rash. This is known as dermatitis herpetiformis.

It mainly occurs in adults, spreading to the buttocks, lower back, elbows, or knees.

If you see any symptoms after eating rice, look at the package or ask how it was made. Were any gluten-containing products added, or did other foods contaminate the rice?

By knowing how this happened, you can avoid this occurring in the future.

If your symptoms don’t subside, see your doctor for advice. They’ll be able to test your gluten antibody levels.

These levels indicate if you’ve eaten gluten, but it can’t tell you when or how you first consumed it.

Rice And Arsenic Levels

There have been recent concerns about the arsenic levels in rice. Arsenic is a natural chemical, but it can be dangerous in large amounts.

Most people don’t have to worry about arsenic, but this does concern those with celiac disease and gluten-free individuals. These people eat more rice than others as it’s known as a wheat substitute.

The arsenic found in rice depends on the type of rice, how it’s grown, and how it’s processed. Rice absorbs arsenic more easily than other plants, which can be dangerous for gluten-free individuals.

There are a few ways to reduce your risk of arsenic exposure. The first is to eat less rice overall. There are several gluten-free grains available, such as flax, quinoa, and buckwheat.

If you don’t want to give up rice, choose a type that contains less arsenic. These include Basmati rice from India and Pakistan. You can also go for quick-cooking rice, instant rice, and sushi rice.

Lastly, cook your rice the same way you make pasta. Cook your rice with more water, then drain it once ready. This method can take away up to half of the arsenic.

In most cases, a varied diet will help you keep healthy. If you’re gluten-free, rice can be an amazing food to include in your diet, but do include other foods to ensure your arsenic levels are low.

Ray Brooke
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