Most whole, unprocessed foods fit into a gluten-free diet. However, certain additives can turn a supposed gluten-free food into one that may affect people with conditions like celiac disease.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in certain grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley. It helps food maintain its shape by providing elasticity and moisture. It also allows bread to rise and provides a chewy texture.

Although gluten is safe for most people, those with conditions like celiac disease should avoid it to prevent adverse health effects.

Many foods are made with gluten-containing ingredients. As such, if you’re unable to consume gluten it’s important to check ingredient labels closely, or only purchase products that are certified gluten-free.

This article provides a list of 84 gluten-free foods. However, some foods may have trace amounts of gluten if they’re processed in the same warehouse as gluten-containing foods.

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Some whole grains contain gluten, while the rest are naturally gluten-free.

It’s important to check food labels when purchasing whole grains. Even gluten-free whole grains can be contaminated with gluten, especially if they’re processed in the same facility as gluten-containing foods.

For example, oats are often processed in facilities that also process wheat, which can lead to cross-contamination. For this reason, you should confirm that the oats you purchase are certified gluten-free.

Gluten-free whole grains

Grains to avoid

The following types of gluten-containing grains are often used to make products like bread, crackers, pasta, cereals, baked goods, and snack foods:

All fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. However, some processed fruits and vegetables may contain gluten, which is sometimes added for flavoring or as a thickener.

Gluten-containing ingredients that may be added to processed fruits and vegetables may include:

  • hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • modified food starch
  • malt

The list below provides some examples of fresh fruits and vegetables that you can enjoy on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free fruits

Gluten-free vegetables

Fruits and vegetables to double-check

  • Canned fruits and vegetables: These may be canned with sauces that contain gluten. Fruits and vegetables
    canned with water or natural juices are likely gluten-free.
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables: These may contain added flavorings and sauces that contain gluten.
    Plain frozen varieties are typically gluten-free.
  • Dried fruits and vegetables: Some may include gluten-containing ingredients. Plain, unsweetened, dried fruits and vegetables tend to be gluten-free.
  • Pre-chopped fruits and vegetables: These may be cross-contaminated with gluten depending on where they were prepped.

Almost all fresh, unprocessed plant and animal proteins are naturally gluten-free.

However, gluten-containing ingredients like soy sauce, flour, and malt vinegar are often used as fillers or flavorings in processed proteins. For example, these ingredients may be added to cold cuts or sauces, rubs, and marinades commonly paired with protein sources.

Gluten-free proteins

Proteins to double-check

  • processed meats, such as hot dogs, cold cuts, pepperoni, salami, and bacon
  • meat substitutes, such as vegetarian burgers
  • ground meats
  • proteins that have been combined with sauces or seasonings
  • ready-to-eat proteins, such as those in microwavable TV dinners

Proteins to avoid

  • any meat, poultry, or fish that has been breaded
  • proteins that are combined with wheat-based soy sauce
  • seitan

Most dairy products are naturally gluten-free. However, those that are flavored and contain additives should be double-checked for gluten.

Some common gluten-containing ingredients that may be added to dairy products include thickeners, malt, and modified food starch.

Gluten-free dairy products

Dairy products to double-check

  • flavored milks and yogurts
  • processed cheese products, such as cheese sauces and spreads
  • ice cream, which is sometimes mixed with additives that contain gluten

Dairy products to avoid

  • malted milk drinks

Fats and oils are naturally gluten-free. In some cases, additives that contain gluten may be mixed with fats and oils for flavor and thickening.

Gluten-free fats and oils

Fats and oils to double-check

  • cooking sprays
  • oils with added flavors or spices

There are several types of gluten-free beverages for you to enjoy.

However, some beverages are mixed with additives that contain gluten. Alcoholic beverages made with malt, barley, and other gluten-containing grains should be avoided on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free beverages

It’s important to note that it’s best to consume many of these beverages in moderation due to their added sugar, caffeine, and alcohol contents.

Beverages to double-check

  • any beverage with added flavorings or mix-ins, such as pre-made coffee drinks or mixed drinks
  • distilled liquors, such as vodka, gin, and whiskey — even when labeled gluten-free, as they are known to trigger a reaction in some people due to how they’re processed or stored
  • pre-made smoothies

Beverages to avoid

  • beers, ales, and lagers made from gluten-containing grains
  • non-distilled liquors
  • other malt beverages, such as wine coolers

Many spices, sauces, and condiments are naturally gluten-free. However, gluten-containing ingredients are sometimes added to them as emulsifiers, stabilizers, or flavor enhancers.

These added gluten-containing ingredients include wheat starch and wheat flour.

Below is a list of some spices, sauces, and condiments that are gluten-free. When buying spices and herbs, choose one that’s sold on its own. This means not part of a spice mix, as these sometimes contain wheat starch.

Gluten-free spices, sauces, and condiments

Spices, sauces, and condiments to double-check

Spices, sauces, and condiments to avoid

  • wheat-based soy sauce and teriyaki sauce
  • malt vinegar

Below is a summary of the gluten-free foods covered in this article.

Whole grainsFruits and vegetablesProteinDairyFats and oilsBeveragesOther
• quinoa
• brown rice
• wild rice
• buckwheat
• sorghum
• tapioca
• millet
• amaranth
• teff
• arrowroot
• gluten-free oats
• citrus fruits
• bananas
• apples
• berries
• peaches
• pears
• broccoli
• spinach
• kale
• Swiss chard
• potatoes
• corn
• squash
• bell peppers
• mushrooms
• onions
• carrots
• radishes
• green beans
• beans
• lentils
• peas
• peanuts
• nuts
• seeds
• beef
• pork
• lamb
• bison
• chicken
• turkey
• fish
• scallops
• shellfish
• unflavored soy foods
• cow’s milk
• butter
• ghee
• cheese
• cream
• cottage cheese
• sour cream
• yogurt
• butter
• ghee
• olives
• olive oil
• avocados
• avocado oil
• coconut oil
• sesame oil
• canola oil
• sunflower oil
• water
• 100% fruit juice
• coffee
• tea
• wine
• hard ciders
• gluten-free beer
• sports drinks
• soda
• lemonade
• rosemary
• thyme
• paprika
• salt
• pepper
• ginger
• turmeric
• tamari
• coconut aminos
• white vinegar
• apple cider vinegar

Here is a list of ingredients and food additives that may indicate an item contains gluten:

  • modified food starch and maltodextrin (if made from wheat, it will be specified on the label)
  • malt-based ingredients, including malt vinegar, malt extract, and malt syrup
  • gluten stabilizer
  • soy or teriyaki sauce
  • wheat-based ingredients, such as wheat protein and wheat flour
  • emulsifiers (will be specified on the label)

If you’re unsure if a product contains gluten, it’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer to double-check.

A gluten-free diet is typically recommended for those with celiac disease. This condition triggers an immune response when foods containing gluten are consumed.

People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may also have to limit gluten, as it can contribute to symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

Some research suggests that a gluten-free diet may be beneficial for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is a chronic disorder characterized by digestive issues like stomach pain, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

That said, more research is needed to fully understand the role of gluten in IBS.

Gluten is found naturally in many nutritious foods, including whole grains like wheat, barley, and rye.

Research shows that there’s no benefit to gain from following a gluten-free diet for non-medically indicated reasons. This means that if you haven’t received a diagnosis of celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or a healthcare professional hasn’t advised you to stop eating gluten, then you may not gain benefits.

In fact, following a gluten-free diet without the need to may increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Some processed, gluten-free food products are not enriched with vitamins and minerals. As such, following a gluten-free diet that lacks diversity could increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies in:

Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that you’re getting these important nutrients from other sources as part of a well-rounded, gluten-free diet to help reduce the risk of side effects.

Some of the most common foods and beverages that contain gluten include cereals, pastas, crackers, baked goods, breads, beer, non-distilled liquors, and some condiments, sauces, and spices.

What are gluten foods to avoid?

Some ingredients to look out for in foods include wheat, barley, rye, modified food starch, malt-based ingredients, teriyaki sauce, wheat protein, wheat flour, and emulsifiers.

Most proteins, dairy products, fats and oils, and fruits and vegetables are gluten-free. However, it’s important to double-check labels, as some processed types of these foods may include gluten additives.

Gluten is an ingredient that’s commonly found in foods like bread, cereals, and pasta. If you avoid gluten, there are plenty of foods you can choose from to ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet.

Many whole foods are naturally gluten-free, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, certain whole grains, dairy products, and oils, as well as fresh meat, fish, and poultry.

It’s important to double-check ingredient labels. Gluten is often added to foods that you wouldn’t expect.

If you’re still unsure about whether a certain food contains gluten, speak with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian.

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