Is Rice Gluten-Free?
Yes, all rice (in its natural form) is gluten-free. This includes brown rice, white rice, wild rice and rice flour. Even Asian or sticky rice, also called “glutinous rice,” is gluten-free, despite its name. In this case, the “glutinous” term refers to the sticky nature of the rice and not the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Rice is one of the most popular gluten-free grains for people with celiac disease. Many gluten-free packaged goods are made with rice flour instead of wheat flour.
There are some instances where rice may not be gluten-free. In addition to cross-contact (outlined below), rice can be made or sold with various spices and sauces that could contain gluten. Some names may be misleading as well. For example, rice pilaf may sound like it is gluten-free, however, it is typically made with orzo, which is not gluten-free. Always double check ingredient labels to be sure that what you are eating is truly gluten-free. When in doubt, avoid to product or contact the manufacturer to get more information.
Rice and Cross-Contact
Even though rice is naturally gluten-free, it can come into contact with wheat, barley and rye during the growing, harvesting and manufacturing process. Whenever possible, be sure to buy rice that is labeled or certified gluten-free. Avoid buying rice from bulk bins at the grocery store. Cross-contact can easily occur in the bulk bins if other shoppers use the same scoop for both gluten-free and gluten-containing grains.
If you’re eating rice in a restaurant, make sure there are no added ingredients that would make the rice no longer gluten-free. Check and see if the rice can be made in its own clean pan so cross-contact doesn’t happen while cooking. Get tips for dining away from home here.
Celiac Disease Symptoms after Eating Rice
If you have symptoms after eating rice, check the package or review how it was prepared. Was a gluten-containing ingredient added? Could cross-contact have occurred? Answering these questions will help you avoid gluten exposure in the future.
If your symptoms don’t go away, check in with your doctor for some advice. Your doctor can also test you to see if your gluten antibody levels are high. This will show if you are somehow eating gluten, even though it cannot tell when or how gluten got into your system. This test is the same blood test you received when first being tested for celiac disease. Learn more about celiac disease testing here.
Arsenic in Rice
Recently, there have been concerns about arsenic being in rice. Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in nature. Consuming high levels of arsenic can be dangerous and unhealthy. Arsenic in rice is a concern for people with celiac disease because this group tends to eat many more rice-based products than those who eat wheat. Studies are being conducted on the issue and Tricia Thompson, MS, RD has shared recommendations for people with celiac disease. Learn more here. (Note: At the time this article about arsenic in rice was written, Beyond Celiac was known as the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness).