Over the past 15 or so years, studies have indicated that moderate amounts of gluten-free oats are well tolerated by the majority of people who have celiac disease. That means that most people on a gluten-free diet can “feel their oats” and eat them, too.
What’s so great about oats?
Uncontaminated oats add important vitamins and minerals to the gluten-free diet that might otherwise be missing. They’re a good source of protein, iron and manganese, which aids in the utilization of other key nutrients. The soluble fiber in oats helps reduce total cholesterol, along with LDL or “bad” cholesterol. And since oats are low on the glycemic index, they can help control blood sugar.
Pure oats deliver pleasant texture and flavor to foods, in addition to being quite versatile. They can be made into homemade granola, baked in oat bread, cooked into oatmeal cookies and used as a binder in meatloaf. Oat flour added to gluten-free flour blends delivers excellent baking results.
If you’re newly diagnosed with celiac disease, proceed with caution. Gluten-free oats should be introduced slowly as some may experience abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas when going from a low-fiber diet to a high-fiber diet. It’s also important to increase your water intake when adding fiber-rich foods like oats to your diet.
For those newly diagnosed with celiac disease, most physicians recommend waiting to introduce pure oats until you’re six to 12 months into the gluten-free diet and your antibody levels have returned to normal. Slowly add limited amounts - no more than ¼ cup of uncontaminated dry oats to start – to give your body a chance to adjust to the increased fiber content and to see if you can tolerate gluten-free oats.
Some specialists emphasize that if people are worried about consuming pure oats as part of their gluten-free diet, they should have follow-up testing after introducing them to see if their antibody levels are normal. If you tried uncontaminated oats once and had a reaction, it might be due to the high fiber. Make sure the product is labeled certified gluten-free, of course. Then try it again in a smaller amount to see if you can tolerate it.
The bottom line about this great grain? If you have celiac disease, the odds are in your favor that you’ll be able to safely enjoy a moderate amount of certified gluten-free oats as part of your gluten-free diet. Check with your doctor. Introduce pure oats slowly and watch carefully for adverse reactions.
Do you eat oats?