Gluten-free foods are now more widely available than ever before, but unless they adhere to gluten-free diets, consumers may not know just what gluten is and why some people need to avoid it.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and the hybrid grain triticale, which is produced by crossing wheat and rye. Many foods and beverages, including breads, soups, beer and cereals, contain gluten.
However, the CDF notes that many foods also are naturally gluten-free. What’s more, many naturally gluten-free foods are very nutritious. These foods include fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood, dairy, beans, legumes and nuts. And while it may seem as though people advised to avoid gluten must therefore remove grains and other starches from their diets, that’s not the case. In fact, the CDF lists a number of naturally gluten-free grains and starch-containing foods on its website (www.celiac.org). For example, rice, cassava, corn, soy, potato, quinoa, nut flours and millet are just a handful of the naturally gluten-free grains and starches that people who must avoid gluten can eat without fear of aggravating their conditions.