Gluten-Free Foods List

April 19, 2016
by Thrive Market
Gluten-Free Foods List

Nowadays perusing grocery store shelves can mean getting inundated with the words “gluten-free” on everything from pasta to spinach to soda. That ubiquitous label only makes us more afraid of where gluten could possibly be lurking—if it’s in soy sauce, ketchup, and French fries, it could be anywhere, right? And if you actually have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, your fears of any foods that aren’t blatantly declared GF might be reaching a fever pitch right about now.

If you’ve been wondering what you can safely eat—and what to avoid entirely—look no further. Here’s our complete guide to gluten in food, including a comprehensive list of gluten-free foods AND a list of foods to avoid that sometimes, or almost always, contain gluten. We also run down how to decode product labels and spot ingredients that might indicate that a particular item contains gluten. Let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all.

Naturally gluten-free foods

When you spot a gluten-free label on a jar of almond butter, it kind of messes with your mind, right? Almonds don’t have any wheat, so why would it even be a question? Well, cross-contamination with gluten products may be an issue in some cases, as well as fillers in items like ice cream, jams, and jellies. (Foods that may contain fillers are noted below with an asterisk, and a comprehensive list of ingredients to look out for in these cases is included here, too.)

Fortunately, many, many real foods are naturally gluten-free—and you really don’t have to worry about them at all! Here’s a rundown.

Fresh vegetables are gluten-free

Fresh vegetables

Whether they’re labeled gluten-free or not, fresh vegetables don’t have any gluten. Good thing—veggies should be the pillar of a healthy diet for everyone, including those who eat gluten-free. Consuming a wide variety is best, so take your pick of these:

  • Acorn
  • Agar
  • Alfalfa
  • Algae
  • Artichoke
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Bell Pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes (white and sweet)
  • Pumpkins
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Turnips
  • Watercress

Broiled Grapefruit

Fresh fruits

The same goes for fresh fruits. When you pick up a banana, you should have no doubt in your mind it’s safe to eat. Enjoy everything from acai to watermelon!

  • Acai
  • Apples
  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carob
  • Cherimoya
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Cranberries
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Guava
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Kumquat
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Passion fruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pineapples
  • Plantains
  • Plums
  • Pluots
  • Pomegranate
  • Quince
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tamarind
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon

Steak with chimichurri sauce

Meat and fish

Animal protein is a-OK. Just remember, if you’re ordering from a restaurant, avoid meat that’s breaded or prepared with other ingredients that potentially contain gluten (more on that later).

  • Alligator
  • Beef
  • Buffalo
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Goat
  • Goose
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Quail
  • Rabbit
  • Shellfish
  • Snake
  • Turkey
  • Veal
  • Venison

Baked brie with dried fruit

Dairy

You have to give up most bread when you go gluten-free, but thankfully, cheese, butter, and everything listed below are generally in the safe zone. Whew! A couple of exceptions that may have gluten: processed cheese and bleu cheeses.

  • Butter*
  • Casein
  • Cream
  • Goat cheese
  • Ice cream*
  • Milk
  • Plain, unflavored yogurt and Greek yogurt
  • Real cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Whey*

Quinoa

Gluten-free grains and grain alternatives

Yes! You can hold onto your grain game. A lot of people don’t know there are tons of gluten-free grains:

Coconut flour

Gluten-free flours

It keeps getting better, right? Gluten-free baking can be a little tricky, because gluten protein is the thing that gives most baked goods their spongy texture. But with these flour alternatives, you can still make delicious breads, cakes, and even cookies. Comb through our arsenal of GF recipes to get inspired!

  • Almond flour
  • Amaranth flour
  • Arrowroot flour
  • Baking yeast (not brewer’s yeast)
  • Bean flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Buckwheat
  • Cassava flour
  • Corn flour
  • Corn meal
  • Corn starch
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Dal flour
  • Garbanzo bean flour
  • Pea flour
  • Polenta
  • Potato flour
  • Sago flour
  • Sorghum flour
  • Soy Flour
  • Tapioca Flour
  • Taro Flour

Cooking oils

Cooking fats

More ways to keep your gluten-free diet healthy and satisfying—fats are vital for your body and brain, and naturally gluten-free, so don’t shy away from them! Fats also do a lot of the heavy lifting to add tons of flavor to any dish.

Walnuts

Nuts and seeds

Speaking of beneficial fats, nuts and seeds also provide essential fatty acids and energy. Not to mention, they’re much healthier to snack on than conventional crackers you have to give up when you go gluten-free. Win-win.

White beans

Canned legumes*

Legumes are naturally gluten-free, but some dried varieties may have been cross-contaminated with gluten products. Canned legumes are generally safe as long as there are no added sauces, seasonings, or flavoring.

Fresh herbs

Fresh herbs

With fresh herbs, you’re good to go—your GF meals will never fail to be flavorful! As for dried spices*, make sure there are no fillers (see below).

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Superfood Chocolate Bars

Miscellaneous

Aside from the food groups above, there are a few miscellaneous items that you can pretty much trust are gluten-free:

Popular gluten-free foods

At Thrive Market, we make shopping for gluten-free products totally easy. Visit our Gluten-Free value page and go from there.

Here are some of our most popular GF offerings:

Gluten foods to avoid

Now the bad news—there are quite a few foods that you’ll have to give up when you quit gluten. But in some cases, you’ll still be able to find some gluten-free options of your favorite breads, pastas, and cereals.

Note: Remember that “wheat-free” doesn’t necessarily mean “gluten-free.” When in doubt, always check for the gluten-free label when it comes to these items.

Foods that definitely contain gluten

Just like some foods like fresh fruits and veggies are undoubtedly gluten-free, there are some that are all about the gluten—namely grains and starches. Avoid the following.

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Cracked wheat
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Fu
  • Graham flour
  • Kamut matzo
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Seitan
  • Triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye)
  • Wheat
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat starch

Other foods that typically have gluten

You’ll probably have to say goodbye to a lot of your favorite carbs. More often than not, the following foods fall on the “avoid” list.

Pastas and noodles

Ordering up a heaping bowl of spaghetti and meatballs at a traditional Italian restaurant might be off limits. But gluten-free pasta is a thing, so you can still have it at home. Just beware of conventional pastas and noodles in these forms:

  • Angel hair
  • Dumplings
  • Chow mein
  • Egg noodles
  • Fettucine
  • Gnocchi
  • Linguine
  • Ramen noodles
  • Ravioli
  • Soba noodles
  • Spaghetti
  • Udon noodles

Breads

It hurts to say this, but you’ll have to drop the bread basket! So even if you have to generally pass on the unlimited breadsticks and pancake stacks when you eat out, you’ll still be able to find gluten-free alternatives of some of these favorites.

  • Bagels
  • Biscuits
  • Cornbread
  • Crepes
  • Croissants
  • Croutons
  • Flatbreads
  • Flour tortillas
  • Focaccia
  • French toast
  • Naan
  • Pancakes
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Pita
  • Potato bread
  • Rolls
  • Waffles

Baked goods

Yup, anything lurking in the oh-so-tempting pastry case at the local coffee shop is dangerous. But on the bright side, going gluten-free gives you a good excuse to drop these high-calorie, fattening items altogether.

  • Brownies
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Donuts
  • Muffins
  • Pies

Miscellaneous foods

Most likely, these foods are made with gluten-containing ingredients, so it’s best to avoid them unless they’re labeled gluten-free.

  • Corn flakes
  • Crackers
  • Cream sauces
  • Granola
  • Pretzels
  • Rice puffs
  • Soy sauce
  • Stuffing

Other foods that might have gluten

Then there are those items that appear fair game, but might not be. For example, meatballs and veggie burgers may be made with breadcrumbs and flour. Cream-based soups and gravy are often thickened with flour, too. And while legumes and spices are naturally gluten-free, some dried varieties may have been cross-contaminated with gluten products. You may notice a trend here—the basic rule of thumb is, for any processed item, do a pass of the ingredients list to make sure you're in the clear. Here are some of the foods that might need further investigation before indulging.

  • Baking powder
  • Beer
  • Blue cheeses
  • Breaded foods
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Candy
  • Canned baked beans
  • Cereals
  • Cheesecake
  • Cold cuts
  • Commercial bouillon and broths
  • Cream-based soups
  • Dried spices
  • Egg substitute
  • Energy bars
  • Flavored alcohol
  • Flavored coffees and teas
  • French fries
  • Fried vegetables/tempura
  • Fruit fillings and puddings
  • Gravy
  • Hot dogs
  • Ice cream
  • Imitation bacon bits
  • Imitation crab meat
  • Instant hot drinks
  • Ketchup
  • Malt and malt flavoring
  • Malt vinegar
  • Marinades
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meatballs
  • Multigrain tortillas and tortilla chips
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Oats (unless certified gluten-free)
  • Oat bran (unless certified gluten-free)
  • Potato chips
  • Pre-made chocolate milk
  • Processed cheese
  • Roasted nuts
  • Root beer
  • Salad dressing
  • Seasonings
  • Seitan
  • Some bourbons
  • Soy sauce
  • Syrups
  • Tabbouleh
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Trail mix
  • Veggie burgers and other meat substitutes
  • Wheatgrass
  • Wine coolers

Miscellaneous sources of gluten

As if food weren’t enough to worry about! Gluten may be lurking in anything from shampoo to vitamins, and if you’re extremely sensitive, these products—even applied topically—might cause adverse reactions. Here are some everyday items that may be harboring gluten (but if you are extra sensitive, stick to trusted GF brands).

  • Cosmetics
  • Lipsticks, lip balm
  • Medications
  • Non self-adhesive stamps and envelopes
  • Play-doh (Check out our gluten-free play-doh recipe!)
  • Shampoos
  • Vitamins and supplements (check label)

Red-flag ingredients

If you're gluten-free, it's good to know how to decode product labels. This list should help—*if you spot any of these ingredients in a product, it could mean there's gluten inside.

  • Amino peptide complex
  • Avena sativa Cyclodextrin
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Caramel color (frequently made from barley)
  • Dextrin
  • Fermented grain extract
  • Gliadin
  • Hordeum distichon
  • Hordeum vulgare
  • Hydrolysate
  • Hydrolyzed malt extract
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Maltodextrin
  • Modified food starch
  • Natural flavoring
  • Phytosphingosine extract
  • Secale cereale
  • Tocopherol/vitamin E
  • Triticum aestivum
  • Triticum vulgare
  • Yeast extract

So there you have it. While your approach to bread and pasta might never quite be the same again, now you know how to safely stay gluten-free. And you can take comfort in the fact that some of the most wholesome foods out there are right at home in a GF diet!

Photo credit: Paul Delmont and Alicia Cho

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This article is related to: Diet, Food, Gluten-Free, Grocery List, Health, Nutrition, Tips, Educational

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  • Denise Brown

    Just because something is said to be gluten free, doesn't mean it is healthy. Perhaps we need a list for GMO free foods!