Usually, rice is one of the few grains that Celiacs and gluten sensitive people alike can tolerate. On a gluten-free diet, rice is often used in place of wheat, rye and barley. But, sometimes you may wonder, is rice really gluten-free when so many other foods are not? Does it pose any threat to Celiacs?
Any kind of plain rice is considered gluten-free, because rice itself does not contain gluten. This includes, brown rice, white rice, and black rice. Even the form of rice known as “glutinous” (also called, sticky rice or sweet rice) is gluten-free since the term “glutinous” merely refers to its tendency to get sticky and glue-like when cooked.
Therefore, plain rice poses no threat to Celiacs. Wild rice blends are, generally, safe for Celiacs to eat. However, it is still best to know what ingredients are added to the blend, in case it contains something which you cannot tolerate. Sometimes wild rice blends are mixed with barley or rye grains and, occasionally, gluten might be used as a flavoring.
Also, if you happen to be allergic to vinegar made from gluten grains, you should use caution when eating the Japanese rice contained in sushi dishes. This kind of rice always has grain-based vinegar in it. In a Japanese restaurant, the safer option would be to ask the cook to put plain rice in your sushi.
It is important to remember that prepared rice mixes almost always contain gluten in their ingredients. In these mixes, wheat is often used as a thickener or a flavoring. Barely flavoring is also used to flavor rice dishes. These added ingredients could really be dangerous to people who are gluten intolerant as well as to Celiacs.
In addition, if you are sensitive to gluten cross-contamination, you will need to be extra careful when eating rice. Even though plain rice does not contain gluten, most rice and/or rice products are prepared in a facility that processes gluten-filled foods. As with other foods, you will need to read ingredients on the rice labels carefully; not all packages containing rice will be specified as gluten-free.
Fortunately, most rice based products are certified as gluten-free. These foods include, rice crackers, rice pasta, rice cakes and rice milk. In my own family, rice based foods are what we use most for wheat substitution.
Rice is certainly a popular gluten-free solution because of its efficiency, ease in cooking and good taste. Not only is it initially gluten-free, but, today, many rice based foods are put on the market as substitutes for wheat based products. If both caution and flexibility are used, you will be able to enjoy rice in place of wheat for years to come, no matter how gluten intolerant you are.