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    Which Grains are Safe for Celiacs, Which are Not?

    Scott Adams
    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Wheat, Rye and Barley and comprise the short list of grains that are unsafe and forbidden for people with celiac disease.

    Sorghum is safe for celiacs. Image: CC BY 2.0--Michele Dorsey Walfred
    Caption: Sorghum is safe for celiacs. Image: CC BY 2.0--Michele Dorsey Walfred

    Celiac.com 05/26/2020 - One of the most popular questions we get is: Which grains are safe for people with celiac disease, and which are not?

    Unsafe Non-Gluten-Free Grains for Celiacs

    Wheat, Rye and Barley and comprise the short list of grains that are unsafe and forbidden for people with celiac disease.

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    Unfortunately, there are a number of equally unsafe variants of these grains that go by other names. 

    Durum and semolina are wheat varieties that have been bred for specific uses. Both spelt and kamut are also types of wheat, and are sometimes sold under other names, including spelt, Polish wheat, einkorn and small spelt. 

    Bulgur is wheat that's been specially processed. 

    Triticale, a grain crossbred from wheat and rye, is definitely on the unsafe list.

    Safe Gluten-Free Grains for Celiacs

    As long as the items discussed below are not contaminated with wheat, they should be safe for most celiacs. It's always best to look for "gluten-free" on a product label, and it's even better if you can find certified gluten-free versions.

    Of the common grains, rice is the favorite for most celiacs, as it rarely troubles anyone. Though corn (aka maize) is a grain that may trigger allergic reactions in some people, both with and without celiac disease, corn has not been shown to cause damage to the villi in celiacs. In fact, corn is well-tolerated by most people with celiac disease. Aside from corn and rice, there is a wide variety of other naturally gluten-free grains that are used in gluten-free cooking. We even use beans and peas (aka legumes, pulses).

    The following can be milled into gluten-free flours or cooked and eaten in side dishes: amaranth, buckwheat (or kasha), chickpeas (garbanzos), Job's tears (Hato Mugi, Juno's Tears, River Grain), fonio, lentils, millet, peas, quinoa, ragi, sorghum, soy, tapioca, teff, and wild rice. Many of these flours are available in health food stores. Others, like rice flour, may be available in grocery stores. 

    Oats can be tricky, and if you are just starting out on a gluten-free diet you may want to avoid them for a while. If you do eat them make sure to only eat ones that are labelled "gluten-free," as they are often cross-contaminated with wheat. Some people also have an intolerance to oats, which is a separate issue from celiac disease.

    For more detail lists, be sure to see our Safe & Forbidden Lists below:




    Edited by Scott Adams


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    About the same time as you, I got diagnosed with GI. but my nutritionist had an impossibly long list of grains to avoid. All I remembered was rice and corn were OK. I'd welcome alternatives.


    Nancy in San Jose CA

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    Oats are contaminated with wheat and barley. Best to buy products that are Certified gluten-free and/or state it is processed in a facility without wheat.

    Family has put up with my non-gluten-free kitchen.  No gluten products are allowed inside the house. Then a family member developed a disease that requires "low carb" consumption.  Our family is now gluten-free and low carb.

    Result: Everyone lost weight. Glucose levels remain stabilized.

    Processes: Our grain carbs are limited to 40 per day. Fruits are mostly berries, that are low in carbs.  Vegetables are unlimited as long as they are on the low carb listings.  High in lectin foods are rare & strictly limited due to carb levels.

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  • About Me

    Scott Adams was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. In 1995 he launched the site that later became Celiac.com to help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives.  He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of the (formerly paper) newsletter Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. Celiac.com does not sell any products, and is 100% advertiser supported.

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