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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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Fugo March 5, 2011 at 6:44 am

Here’s a great article which is very interesting about oats. Definitely check it out:


Chloe August 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Thanks for the article. I can’t eat oats. Gluten gives me acne, and oats for sure give me acne. I’m too scared to try even gluten-free kinds!


Donna Schillinger September 29, 2011 at 9:20 am

Thanks for this explanation. I am not highly sensative to gluten, but I do seem to have inflammation due to it – swelling, water retention. Do oats, via their proximity to wheat, have enough gluten that they will likely cause a problem for someone not highly sensative, I mean, surely they are much lower in gluten content than some of the real deals like BRWS? I’m just a sucker for a bowl of granola in the morning, but don’t like being all puffy all day either.


Jennifer Fugo October 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Hi Donna,
Even a little bit of gluten can cause a reaction. If you love oats, you can easily buy gluten free oats for oatmeal and gluten free granola…that way you can enjoy your oats while keeping away the bloat!


Joanne Stevens December 3, 2012 at 8:06 am

I am a student at IIN. I heard your testimonial and decided to check out your website. Very informative!


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