If you love oats and oatmeal for breakfast or adding oats to your baked goods, you might be wondering if these are safe for a gluten-free diet. Find out in this post!
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Do you love big bowls of oatmeal for breakfast? Or to add oats to your pancakes, cookies, or other baked goods? I’m all about the oatmeal in my house, because of all the great health benefits it provides. But like any other ingredient in my diet, making sure it’s gluten-free is the top priority.
A food might taste good, but if it has gluten – or hidden gluten – I might enjoy it for the moment, then pay for it for days later. Oats have become such a big staple of my diet, which is why I wanted to answer this big question today: Is oatmeal gluten-free? Are oats gluten-free?
In this post, we’re going to talk all about the health benefits of oats, what gluten is, if oats and oatmeal are gluten-free, why all oatmeal isn’t gluten-free, and what brands to look for to be sure you’re eating gluten-free oats.
The health benefits of oats
If you love a good bowl of oatmeal or to add oats to your baking recipes, you can feel good about that choice Here are just a few reasons why oats are so great for you!
Oats are full of nutrients and carbs to help you get a quick bit of energy in the morning and help you slowly use that energy throughout the morning. They’re also a great source of protein and fat to fill you up without that spike and drop in sugar many other breakfast foods leave you with.
Oats and oatmeal is full of fiber and is said to help lower cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar, and improve constipation. Not too bad of an ingredient to keep on your regular rotation, if I do say so myself!
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, and therefore is impossible to strip away from the grain. If a grain naturally has gluten in it, there’s no way to make that food gluten-free.
Are oats gluten-free?
Oats are naturally gluten-free, however oats are notorious for being in contact with other gluten-containing grains in the field. For example, oats might be grown in the same or nearby field as grains that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley, or rye.
Oats might also come into contact with these gluten-containing grains while being processed in facilities and getting ready to be shipped out to customers.
On their own, when no other contact with other grains has been made, oats are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet.
Is oatmeal gluten-free?
Oatmeal is naturally gluten-free, but that doesn’t mean that all oatmeal brands are gluten-free. As mentioned above, oats may come into contact with gluten-containing grains in the field, during transporting or processing.
Because of that, it’s best to look for a gluten-free label on the oats and oatmeal products you buy to ensure that cross contamination has not taken place.
Are steel cut oats gluten-free?
Steel cut oats are naturally gluten-free and a great option for a gluten-free breakfast, as long as they are certified gluten-free as indicated on the label.
Are one-minute oats gluten-free?
Most oatmeal that comes in a package will contain gluten, including any one-minute oats that you find. If you eat one-minute oats, be sure to look for certified gluten-free oatmeal to be sure your breakfast is gluten-free.
Are old fashioned oats gluten-free?
Old fashioned oats by nature are gluten-free, but to ensure that you’re actually eating gluten-free oats, you need to look for a package with the gluten-free label.
Oats have a very high likelihood of cross contamination from other wheat grains, making them not gluten-free at all.
Why isn’t all oatmeal gluten-free?
Oats are all gluten-free naturally, and if we were to eat oats straight from the farm every day, then we very likely would never have to worry about gluten being in any of the oatmeal we make.
However, most oatmeal is contaminated with gluten from three main sources: while out in the field or during transporting, and during the manufacturing process.
Contamination from the field
Oats are often located in fields with other grains being grown nearby. That means that any time there is wind that picks up or during harvesting, those gluten proteins could go flying from crop to crop, leaving gluten on your otherwise gluten-free oats.
Contamination from transportation
While transporting, oats may be in the same trucks as other grains that have gone on their journey to get packaged up and sold before them. Those grains might have been gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, or rye. Because of this, the naturally gluten-free oats will be in a jumble with other dust and particles left over from the grains that were in the truck before them.
Contamination from the manufacturing process
Once oats get to a plant where they’re going to be processed into oats for selling, they’ll go through different chutes and along a full line of machines that take the oats from the field and turn them into old fashioned oats, steel cut oats, or one-minute oats and packaged up to go to grocery stores or online retailers.
Oats aren’t the only grains that get processed on many of these machines. Other grains, like gluten-containing grains, are often processed here too, making the oats susceptible to cross contact with gluten, even if they’ve made it this far down the line without coming into contact with it.
The only way around this cross contamination from other grains is to purchase certified gluten-free oats. As per the FDA, to be considered for a certified gluten-free label, a product must contain less than 20ppm of gluten in each serving. You can feel good about any of the oats and oatmeal products that have this label.
Gluten-free Oatmeal Brands
Now that you know how to avoid gluten in oats and oatmeal products, let’s talk about your gluten-free oatmeal options. Here’s a list of brands that have the gluten-free labels you can look for next time you’re at the store or shopping online.
Arrowhead Mills offers instant quinoa and oat breakfast cereal that is certified gluten-free.
Bakery on Main offers Gluten-free Happy Quick Oats which are great for breakfast or your favorite baked goods. These are Non-GMO project verified.
Bob’s Red Mill has a few different gluten-free oats and oatmeal products. These specific products are all certified gluten-free and are sourced with non-GMO ingredients.
Are Bob’s Red Mill Oats gluten-free?
Many of the Bob’s Red Mill oats are gluten-free, but not all. Be sure to look for the gluten-free label on the package before purchasing.
GF Harvest offers gluten-free oatmeal products that are certified gluten free.
Glutenfreeda offers certified gluten-free oats that are part of the Non-GMO project.
Nature’s Path has both old fashioned and steel cut oats that are gluten-free. They are also organic and GMO project verified.
Gluten-free Prarie offers a certified gluten-free, Non-GMO oatmeal that’s grown in dedicated gluten-free fields, harvested on gluten-free equipment, and packaged in a designated gluten-free facility.
Quaker Oats offers a few different options of gluten-free oatmeal. While Quaker’s normal oats and oatmeal are not considered gluten-free, their specific gluten-free line is safe for a gluten-free diet. They are also Non-GMO project verified.
Are regular Quaker oats gluten-free?
Regular Quaker oats are not gluten-free, as they are almost always cross contaminated with gluten-containing grains either in the field, in transport, or during processing. Look for one of their gluten-free products, as listed above, to ensure what you’re buying and eating is gluten-free.
Want to find out my favorite ways to enjoy oatmeal? Read the Gluten-free Dairy-free Breakfast Guide!