Web Only ArticleDecember 22, 2015

Are Oats Gluten Free?

Oats, by nature, are gluten free. However, process and manufacturing often lead to oats co-mingling with non-gluten-free grains like wheat, rye, or barley. This makes most conventional oats cross-contaminated and unsafe for consumption for those with celiac disease.

[Updated December 29, 2017]

are oats gluten free?

Are oats gluten-free, you ask?  Well, oats are one of the hardest to explain to newly diagnosed people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. By nature, cereal-grain oats and their protein, avenin, are gluten free. However, through processing and manufacturing, oats are often co-mingled with other grains and become cross-contaminated, yielding higher levels than 20ppm of gluten in the finished products.

According to our Research Roundup published in April/May 2014, “a study of adults with celiac disease, long-term consumption of pure, uncontaminated gluten-free oats had no harmful effects, say researchers from Tampere University in Finland.” The Celiac Disease Foundation also cites, “a normal amount of oats are not able to induce an immune response like wheat, barley, or rye can in the vast majority of CD patients.”

However, according to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, a small percentage of celiacs cannot tolerate large amounts of even certified gluten-free oats. Also, be careful of overdoing it, even if you can tolerate oats. Experts at NFCA recommend eating less than 50 grams of dry oats per day. You might want to ease into eating gluten free oats and see how you react to them. Keep a food diary that you can write down when and what type of oats you used, and how much you ate each day and track your symptoms and how you feel. Most can tolerate gluten-free oats just fine when used in moderation daily.

But how can you tell if oats are gluten free? Look for either a certification or a statement on the label that confirms the gluten free status. Certified gluten-free oats are often labelled as Purity Protocol oats; brands like Bob's Red Mill, GF Harvest, and GlutenFreeda are Purity Protocol, meaning they are processed in dedicated gluten-free facilities.

If you do not see a certification seal on your oats, and you are unsure if the oats are gluten free, call the company and ask about manufacturing. New manufacturing uses optical sorting and other methodologies to turn “regular” oats into safe oats for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. They use proprietary technology to sort out stray wheat and barley from the oats to achieve pure oats. In order to be considered gluten free, these sorted oats must test at under 20ppm of gluten.

Are Oats Gluten-Free?

If you are a celiac, or have gluten sensitivity, please purchase oats that are certified gluten-free or have been tested to assure they are less than 20ppm and safe for those following a gluten-free diet.

Learn how to bake with oats and try oats in recipes. Oats are available in many forms: rolled oats, quick oats, steel cut oats, and oat flour. You’ll want to use each type of oat for different recipes, so make sure you’re paying attention to what type of oats to use!

We’ve gathered up a few of our favorite recipes for you to try! Looking for breads? Try Gluten-Free Oatmeal Maple Bread or Gluten-Free Molasses Oat Bread. Looking for morning uses for oats other than oatmeal? Try Gluten-Free Java Oat Smoothie, Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Baked Oatmeal Bars, or Gluten-Free Toaster Pastries. You can even use oats and oat flour for gluten free dessert recipes like this Pear or Apple Crisp. Run out of oat flour in any of your recipes? You can make your own by pulverizing rolled oats in a food processor until you have oat flour!

Now that you know that gluten-free oats are safe for most on a gluten-free diet, what will be the next oat-friendly recipe you create? 

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