All forms of rice are gluten-free in their pure form. This includes brown rice, white rice, and wild rice. Rice mixes, “wheat-free” rice, and rice from certain manufacturers that produce gluten products may contain gluten.
Living without gluten requires you to be mindful of all the foods you eat. You must read labels to determine whether foods contain gluten or not. Rice is generally gluten-free, unless it’s mixed or processed with other products that contain gluten or is contaminated on equipment that processes gluten products.
You may live a gluten-free lifestyle because you have celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The Mayo Clinic states that 1 in 141 people in the United States have celiac disease. Approximately 1 to 6 percent of the population has non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Another condition, eosinophilic esophagitis or EoE, is a food allergy immune disease that is triggered by a wheat allergy in some people. Any of these conditions require you to avoid consuming products containing gluten.
Rice is generally gluten-free. This includes all varieties, such as white or brown, long or short grain, and fragranced or not fragranced. There are thousands of types of rice, but only about 100 kinds are sold around the world.
As long as you purchase unprocessed rice, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether it’s gluten-free. You need to be aware of products that may contain additional components with gluten or that may be marketed as fast cooking or precooked. These rice products may not be gluten-free. If possible, look for rice packaged with a “gluten-free” label.
Rice can be a staple of a gluten-free diet. However, you should make sure to eat a variety of whole grains to ensure you get important vitamins and minerals in your diet. There are plenty of other grain options you can consume if you are gluten-free.
Another reason to limit eating large amounts of rice is the risk of arsenic consumption. A 2012 report found levels of arsenic in products containing rice. At this time there is no official statement from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration warning consumers to avoid rice and rice products. However, as a precaution, the American Celiac Disease Alliance has issued a statement recommending that those who follow a gluten-free diet eat a variety of whole grains.
- brown rice
- white rice
- wild rice
Rice in its pure form is gluten-free. This whole grain is available in many varieties, all of which differ in nutritional content and health benefits.
You may need to use a specific type of rice to follow a recipe. Some types of rice are better used for certain purposes. If you are picking a rice without a recipe in mind, choose unrefined (brown) rice to increase your meal’s nutritional content.
Here’s some nutritional information about three popular types of gluten-free rice.
Brown rice is packed with nutrition. It contains manganese, selenium, and fiber. Brown rice has more texture because it’s unrefined and still contains the bran and germ. These are both removed when processing white rice. Make sure to store uncooked brown rice in an air-tight container or in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
White rice is an extremely popular type of rice, but it has been stripped of much of its nutritional value. Fiber and other vitamins and minerals are removed from white rice to create a smoother texture and prolong shelf life.
Technically, wild rice isn’t a rice, even though it’s marketed as one. It’s actually a grass and is gluten-free. Wild rice is more difficult to grow than rice, so it may be more expensive or mixed with brown or white rice to lower the cost. Wild rice has many vitamins and minerals, such as fiber, folate, and vitamin B-6. It’s also considered to be high in antioxidants.
May have gluten:
- rice mixes
- rice labeled as “wheat-free”
- rice from a manufacturer of products containing gluten
Avoid rice mixes to keep your diet gluten-free. Many common rice mix brands contain other wheat-based grains, such as pasta. You should also watch for manufacturers that produce products with and without gluten. Products marketed as gluten-free may be contaminated by equipment used for both gluten and gluten-free foods.
Keep in mind that products labeled wheat-free are not necessarily gluten-free. Be careful to check the labels of all food you plan to consume to avoid gluten. If you’re sensitive to any contact with foods containing gluten, don’t risk eating a food that may be contaminated.
Although it’s healthy and gluten-free, rice shouldn’t be the only grain in your diet. There are many other grain products that you can consume safely. As with rice products, be sure to read food labels to ensure the product is free of gluten and isn’t at risk of contamination.
Additional gluten-free grains or carbohydrates that you can use in place of rice include:
- Quinoa: Substitute this for rice in your favorite rice-based salad.
- Corn: Use 100 percent corn tortillas and fill them with your favorite Mexican dish, in lieu of a side of rice.
- Millet: Serve this with your favorite stir-fry.
- Beans and lentils: Pasta products made with bean flour are now available in many grocery stores.
Generally, rice is a gluten-free food. Make sure to check the labels of any rice you purchase to ensure that it has not come into contact with gluten products. Make sure to eat a variety of gluten-free grains and other high-fiber carbohydrates and not rely on rice alone in your diet. There are many alternative grains that are gluten-free, delicious, and packed with nutrition.
Keep reading: Quinoa vs. rice: The health benefits of each grain »