Knowing which grains and starches are naturally gluten-free is crucial as more and more people embrace gluten-free diets or need to avoid gluten due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Brown rice eaters often wonder if their food includes gluten. Brown rice, on the other hand, contains no gluten whatsoever.
What is Gluten?
Wheat, barley, and rye contain the protein known as gluten. Consuming gluten can cause an immunological response that damages the small intestine in those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, weakness, headaches, and other symptoms may result.
Those on a gluten-free diet must abstain from anything even remotely containing the protein. Foods containing barley, rye, malt, and other gluten sources are also included here, in addition to wheat-flour-based breads, pastas, and baked products.
You can tell if a product contains gluten by looking for a “gluten-free” label or reading the ingredients list.
Why Brown Rice is Gluten-Free
Rice doesn’t contain any gluten at all. Rice does not have the gluten proteins found in wheat and other popular cereals. This ranges from white rice to brown rice to black rice to red rice to basmati rice to jasmine rice to wild rice, and every shade in between. This means that brown rice is completely devoid of gluten.
Brown rice is whole grain white rice that has had its inedible hull removed. The rice kernel is complete, meaning it hasn’t been stripped of its nutritious bran and germ.
This makes brown rice more nutritious than refined white rice because it retains more of the nutrients that were removed during processing. Brown rice can be substituted for white rice in any recipe, and it comes in three different grain lengths.
You may read the words “gluten-free” right on the label of some brown rice bags. However, this optional label is not required to verify the absence of gluten. Brown rice with no added ingredients is guaranteed to be gluten-free.
Using Brown Rice on a Gluten-Free Diet
Brown rice is a versatile grain that may be eaten as a gluten-free side dish, the base for rice bowls or fried rice, as an ingredient in soups, salads, and even porridge.
For people who have a wheat allergy or simply don’t like wheat-based pastas and baked items, brown rice pasta and brown rice flour are safe alternatives.
Cross-contamination from other foods or cooking implements should be considered when preparing brown rice. People with celiac disease may benefit from using a rice cooker designed specifically for the grain.
Verify that any sauces, seasonings, or other additions to the rice have been gluten-tested and found to be safe for consumption.
Brown rice, with its nutty taste and chewy texture, can be a welcome addition to a gluten-free diet. Brown rice is safe to eat without fear of hidden gluten because rice is gluten-free by nature.
To keep your brown rice gluten-free, just be careful not to expose it to any gluten.
- Ludvigsson, J.F., Leffler, D.A., Bai, J.C. et al. The Oslo definitions for coeliac disease and related terms. Gut 62, 43–52 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301346
This source provides the medical definitions for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
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This journal article reviews gluten sensitivity, symptoms, and how it differs from celiac disease.
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This source provides information on how modern wheat breeding has impacted gluten content in foods.
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An overview of celiac disease from the New England Journal of Medicine.
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This study analyzes gliadin and cytokine production when gluten interacts with intestinal cells.
- “All About Rice.” USA Rice Federation, www.usarice.com/thinkrice/products/17. Accessed 19 Sept. 2023.
This rice industry site confirms rice does not contain gluten or wheat.
- “Brown Rice.” The Whole Grains Council, https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/brown-rice. Accessed 19 Sept. 2023.