Oats & Gluten: What’s the Deal?

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by Jennifer Fugo on March 4, 2011

Earlier in the week, I shared with you the acronym B-R-O-W-S to help you understand where gluten generally occurs.  If you missed that post, check it out here.  Upon breaking down the acronym, I’m inevitably questioned about oats.  The purpose of this post is to clearly explain why oats occur on the list AND why you’ve got to know how the oats got to your bowl before you eat them.

So, What’s with Oats?

In the realm of all things pertaining to gluten and going Gluten Free, oats actually require a ‘footnote’, if you will.  They aren’t as black and white as the other four grains within B-R-O-W-S.  In fact, oats are the only one that you really need to question because they do not naturally contain gluten. What makes them problematic to those of us with gluten issues is HOW they are ‘produced.’

Generally, oats are grown in fields next to those of wheat.  They are both harvested and processed on the same equipment.  Thus, the oats become contaminated since they intermingle with wheat.  Regular oats are therefore off limits to anyone who is sensitive to gluten or celiac.  Please don’t mistake what I’m saying here.  You can surely eat oats, but you’ve got to find a producer whose packaging is clearly marked ‘Gluten Free’.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats

GF Oat Suggestions

I don’t know many options for Gluten Free oats simply because it takes a great deal of commitment on the grower and producer end to bring GF oats to your table.  However, there are a few options out there that you can try.

One of the best known and most affordable brand is Bob’s Red Mill.  I personally use their oats and have never experienced any sort of issues with their products.  The bags are clearly marked and can be found in a wide variety of supermarkets.  They carry three different types of oats (Quick-Rolled,  Rolled & Steel Cut) which are all Gluten Free.  If you have any questions, their customer service seems to be incredibly helpful.

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