Is Rice Gluten-Free?

Pure rice is naturally gluten-free. Irrespective of whether it’s polished white rice, long grain basmati, full-grain brown rice or even the exotic black varieties. This international staple is the perfect food for those suffering from celiac disease, it helps ease strain in your small intestines thus fostering faster healing.

Even those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity also known as NCGS can still have it as a main course dish. Unlike wheat, rice doesn’t have the gluten bonds which cause dough to stick together when kneading with water. Remarkably, even the common ‘glutinous rice’ type also known as sweet or sticky rice is free from this dangerous compound despite its name. It lacks the strain of gluten which is dangerous to those with celiac. In fact, the term ‘glutinous’ is only a reference to the fact that this strain of rice becomes sticky when cooked. Presuming the food has been protected from cross-contamination during packaging, then it’s 100% safe to consume. This meal can be used to prepare healthy homemade sauces and recipes for the entire family. Experiment as much as possible, but while doing so note that there are some store-bought blends which you should watch out for.

Avoid Flavored Rice

Though buying exotic, flavor-filled varieties may seem like a good idea due to the ease of preparation. This is not recommendable since some of them contain hidden gluten-based ingredients. Such products may even be labeled as microwavable, which is enticing but not healthy after all. Some processing companies often add wheat-based soy sauces or thickeners for enhanced taste, but such additives contain this compound and may cause negative reaction on the villi. Optimal health can always be realized by avoiding factory-derived, highly processed rice.

The rule of thumb when shopping for this product is refraining from anything that contains sauce, though soy is the main culprit here also beware of others such as teriyaki. Still, there are others which come with sauce but not specified whether it’s gluten-free or not, these must be avoided as well.

Other Important Tips

Though plain rice from any manufacturer would be fine, you’ll even be better off by identifying a particular brand and sticking to it instead of jumping from one thing to another. It can help prevent cross-contamination which may otherwise cause complications. Most people think that anything labeled ‘rice’ is free from gluten, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sweetened rice products usually sold alongside natural rice in supermarkets may contain this compound. It can be in the form of thickeners such as the hydrolyzed wheat protein.

Nevertheless, if you still plan to buy a rice mix from the grocery shop instead of preparing one at home, it can be done safely by putting in a few minutes of research. While at the store, check labeling carefully and ensure that the product you bag is clearly written gluten-free.

There are also many brands with great reputation for meeting the needs of those who don’t prefer gluten in their meals. Acclimatize yourself with such manufacturers and get acquainted to their rice brands, they can help you meet specific dietary needs. Usually, products branded ‘organic’ from small-scale packaging firms are more likely not to have gluten in their rice. But still keep checking since some of them might alter ingredients periodically, making the food even healthier or worse than before.

As you continue learning how to shop smartly for rice, also look for creative recipes that can be prepared at home using this particular product. Moreover, when eating out be wary of the rice used in traditional Japanese restaurants to make sushi, more often than not it contains grain-based vinegar which has gluten compound. Most people overlook this hidden ingredient when taking sushi and it can be detrimental. If you must have sushi then ask the restaurant managers for one which doesn’t have grain-based vinegar.

gluten-free rice dish
Gluten-free rice dish

If one can’t find a precooked dish that’s free from gluten and also tasty, then try preparing a rice meal on your own from home. There are many safe desserts that can be added to give it more taste such as mushrooms, cheddar cheese or even ripe tomatoes.

Though avoiding gluten-based foods may seem challenging at first, things will definitely be easier after identifying a particular mix which can then be used on a regular basis. Considering that most people rely on it as a hearty staple dish for all occasions.

There are companies that specialize in making organic, rice products with no risk of cross-contamination during the production process. Others still are masters of exotic sustainable foods, offering a variety of certified rice brands free from this particular compound. Some of the safe exotic crosses include Hom Mali Jasmine Rice, Khao Deng Ruby Red and Thai Sticky Purple Rice. Those who can’t find these products in their local stores can still order online, alternatively you might consider looking for brands that are grown and packaged in Thailand since very little wheat is grown here, and most of their rice is pure.

When researching online about the different varieties that you can buy, note that some manufacturers may list their products as gluten-free but the actual packaging may not indicate this. For your own safety stay away from them since their authenticity has not yet been verified.

Moreover, some prepackaged rice brands may contain gluten but at a fraction that’s half the official legal amount. Which means sensitivity levels are considerably lower than their counterparts. Be careful on the product you decide to buy, since some might contain trace levels of gluten not indicated on the wrapping given that the company might think it’s too negligible for labeling. However, people have different immune systems and while some might not be affected at all, others will suffer reactions where antibodies attack the villi mistaking the compound for foreign organisms.

Rice is a versatile food that can be taken as dessert for breakfast or even a main course evening meal, it all depends on how you cook it. For a Thai-inspired gluten-free dinner, try the purple sticky rice simmered in fresh coconut milk and topped with mango chops.


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