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A Little About Oats

June 4, 2015

I am asked about oatmeal quite often by people I meet in my daily life – and recently found a question about oatmeal in particular in my Lyme Blog. As I thought about it I decided I should add that information here.

I can eat oatmeal if I am cautious about where it came from, meaning where it was processed. Cross-contaminated oats are a problem for me.

So, the big question! Do oats contain gluten?

Scientific evidence accumulated over 15+ years has noted that oats are completely safe for the vast majority of celiac patients. Oats are not related to gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley and rye. They don’t contain gluten, but rather proteins called avenins that are non-toxic and tolerated by most celiacs (perhaps less than 1% of celiac patients show a reaction to a large amount of oats in their diets).

So, oats can be in a celiac’s diet as long as they are selected from sources that guarantee a lack of contamination by wheat, rye or barley.

Some who add oats to their diet may experience GI symptoms. This may actually be a result of the increased fiber that oats provide instead of a reaction to the oats themselves.

About Avenin:
Oats contains similar amino acid sequences as wheat gluten and can evoke the immune response of celiac disease for some people. Oats storage protein toxicity is not the same in all varieties of oats. At this point in time there is no way to predict ahead of time, which people with celiac disease will or will not be able to successfully consume oats without an immune reaction.

The problem is that oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat and barley. Common oats, without a wheat-free assurance, are not appropriate for those with celiac disease. This includes most national and store brands of oatmeal. Oat products testing below 5 parts per million of gluten may qualify to bear the CSA Recognition Seal for Innovative Products.

Steel Cut Oats that are processed through a burr grinder are less apt to be contaminated as it is easier for the processing company to clean the grinder equipment to reduce cross contamination.

I suggest that you rinse steel cut oats before cooking to remove grain dust that may contain residue of other grains (I know, it’s a hassle – but better to be safe!).

A growing number of oat products are handled so as to eliminate cross contamination in the field, and during transportation and processing.

When shopping, search for oat products that are grown, transported, processed, and packaged to be free of contamination with wheat, barley or rye.

Products that contain oats qualify for gluten-free certification through the Innovative category of the CSA Recognition Seal


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One Comment
  1. San permalink

    Thanks for all of this great material you share. It is very much appreciated.

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