Gluten free bread on wooden background from top view

How to choose the right gluten free bread

Eating a gluten-free diet shouldn’t mean you have to avoid bread. Instead, with a few smart choices, you can eat bread, stay healthy and enjoy a whole range of meals that you thought you were unable to.

Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best gluten free bread.

Gluten is used to bind dough together

Gluten is a sticky protein found in certain grains that is used to bind dough together.

For this reason, it’s traditionally found in:

  • Bread
  • Rolls
  • Pizza bases
  • Other food that started out as dough

It causes issues for people with a gluten intolerance, gluten allergy, or Coeliac disease

The good news is that food experts are finding clever ways to eliminate gluten from our favourite foods without losing the taste and texture that makes them so special.

This means you can now find gluten-free versions of almost all of your favourite bread items – or even make them yourself with gluten-free baking mixes. The most important thing is knowing how to choose gluten free bread when you’re shopping or eating out.

How to choose your gluten free bread

Whether you need to avoid gluten for health reasons, or simply choose to be gluten-free as part of your lifestyle, here’s how you can eat bread and stay healthy.

All UK packaging contains allergen information, including gluten content

The first thing you need to know is which grains contain gluten, and which are safe for you to eat. In the UK, labels on all packaged foods must contain allergen information.

So start by looking for any of the grains that contain gluten.

Ingredients that contain gluten

  • Wheat (including spelt)
  • Einkorn
  • Farro
  • Emmer
  • Barley
  • Kamut (Khorasan wheat)
  • Triticale (a wheat/rye hybrid)

Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they can contain traces of gluten unless they are labelled as gluten-free. If you need to avoid gluten, you must steer clear of any trace of these grains in bread products or home bread mixes.

Gluten free grains to look out for

Naturally gluten-free grains include buckwheat, millet, rice, teff, and sorghum. Oats are technically gluten-free but can be cross-contaminated during processing or packing, so to be certain when buying, it’s important that you choose gluten-free oats.

Don’t forget that some food manufacturers might change ingredients, recipes, formulations, or suppliers, all of which could affect the gluten-free status of a food product.

How to know if your bread is gluten free

It’s becoming much easier to buy gluten-free bread, rolls, and bread mixes from shops, but you still need to check the label carefully. The first thing you should do is look to see if wheat, spelt, barley, or rye are listed anywhere in the ingredients.

Choose bread products made from:

  • Buckwheat flour
  • Millet flour
  • Teff flour
  • Milled rice
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum

Remember, if you share a kitchen with a gluten eater, you will need your own chopping board, utensils, and toaster (or you could use toaster bags).

Plenty of restaurants and cafes cater for gluten-free diets and will take extra care to ensure that your gluten-free pizza, wrap, or sandwich is okay to eat. Make sure your waiter communicates your exact needs to the kitchen, telling them whether you have an allergy, intolerance, or Coeliac disease.

You should feel confident that your food will be made from gluten-free ingredients and has been prepared in a separate area so it isn’t at any risk of cross contamination.

Sourdough bread and gluten sensitivity

If you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that your body can tolerate some traditional breads such as sourdough. True sourdough bread uses lactobacilli in place of yeast and is baked at longer at lower temperatures.

This fermentation process breaks down anti-nutrients and degrades gluten. Gluten response to true sourdough may be lower in some people, but be aware that sourdough does still contain gluten.

If you are highly intolerant, or have Coeliac disease, you should not eat sourdough. But if you have a gluten sensitivity, you may be able to introduce proper traditional sourdough into your diet.

Low gluten and gluten-free options

Gluten-free grains

If you need to avoid gluten completely, consider the following options.

  • Rice
  • Gluten-free oats
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Teff
  • Montina (Indian rice grass)

There are a host of positive reasons for choosing gluten-free grains. Amaranth is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, and it contains more protein than any other whole grain. Buckwheat is a good source of zinc, copper, and other minerals. Millet and sorghum are rich in plant antioxidants, while teff is high in calcium and vitamin C.

Handpicked content: Easy recipes for gluten free corn bread and soda bread

Low gluten options

If you don’t need to avoid gluten for health reasons, but want to choose lower gluten options, you could look for bread made from grains that contain small amounts of protein.

They include:

  • Quinoa
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • Spelt

Once you realise how many grains are free from gluten, you start to see how much choice you have which will ensure you don’t need to change your diet too drastically at all.

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