What carbohydrates have no gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause digestive issues and other health problems. Many carbohydrate-containing foods are naturally gluten-free, while gluten-free alternatives exist for foods that typically contain gluten. Knowing which carbohydrates are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet is important for managing gluten-related conditions.

Naturally Gluten-Free Grains

There are several whole grain carbohydrates that do not naturally contain gluten:

  • Rice – Brown, white, wild, basmati, and enriched rice are all naturally gluten-free.
  • Corn – Whole corn and cornmeal contain no gluten.
  • Quinoa – This ancient grain has no gluten.
  • Millet – A gluten-free seed often used as bird feed that can be cooked as a grain.
  • Sorghum – A gluten-free cereal grain.
  • Oats – Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often contaminated with gluten during processing. Look for “gluten-free” labeled oats.
  • Teff – An ancient North African cereal grass that contains no gluten.
  • Buckwheat – Despite its name, buckwheat is gluten-free and not related to wheat.
  • Amaranth – Another naturally gluten-free ancient grain.

Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, plantains, cassava, yuca, and taro also have no gluten.

Gluten-Free Flours and Starches

In place of traditional gluten-containing flours, there are several gluten-free flour options:

  • Rice flour
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Quinoa flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Oat flour (certified gluten-free)
  • Bean flours, such as chickpea or lentil flour
  • Nut flours, like cashew flour

Starches like arrowroot, tapioca, and potato starch can also be used in gluten-free baking.

Naturally Gluten-Free Fruits and Vegetables

All fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free:

  • Fruits – apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, stone fruits, melons, etc.
  • Vegetables – leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, root vegetables, peppers, squash, etc.

Gluten-Free Dairy Products

Plain dairy products do not contain gluten:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream cheese

Some flavored dairy products may have added sources of gluten like cookie pieces, cereals, or flavorings. Always check the label when buying flavored dairy products.

Gluten-Free Protein Foods

Many protein foods are naturally gluten-free:

  • Eggs
  • Meats – Beef, pork, chicken, etc.
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Nuts and Seeds

Avoid pre-breaded meats, sauces, and marinades with gluten-containing ingredients.

Other Gluten-Free Foods

Some other foods that are naturally gluten-free include:

  • Fats and Oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable oils
  • Herbs, Spices, and Condiments – Salt, black pepper, mustard, soy sauce, etc. Check labels for additives.
  • Beverages – Sodas, tea, coffee, juices. Avoid malt beverages and flavored coffees with gluten-containing ingredients.
  • Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Molasses
  • Distilled Vinegars

Again, always check the labels since sauces, dressings, and flavorings may contain hidden sources of gluten.

Gluten-Free Substitutes for Common Foods

For foods that typically contain gluten, there are many gluten-free options:

Common Food Gluten-Free Substitutes
Bread Gluten-free bread, corn tortillas, lettuce wraps, brown rice
Pasta Gluten-free pasta, zucchini noodles, brown rice noodles
Crackers Gluten-free crackers, rice cakes
Cookies Gluten-free cookies, paleo almond cookies
Cereal Gluten-free cereal, granola, muesli
Beer Gluten-free beer, hard cider, wine

Processed Food Precautions

When buying processed or pre-packaged foods, it is important to check the label for potential gluten sources:

  • Wheat – Bread crumbs, flour, cereal extracts, etc.
  • Barley – Malt extract, malt flavoring, malt vinegar
  • Rye – Rye flour, cereal extracts
  • Oats – Look for certified gluten-free oats

Avoid foods with vague ingredients like “starch”, “flavorings” or “spices”. Call the manufacturer if unsure about ingredients.

Cross-Contamination Prevention

Gluten-free foods can still get contaminated with gluten during processing and preparation:

  • Look for a dedicated gluten-free facility or kitchen when buying processed foods.
  • Carefully read labels for potential allergen warnings like “may contain wheat”.
  • Use separate cookware, utensils and prep surfaces for gluten-free cooking.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparing gluten-free foods.

Being vigilant about cross-contamination allows those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance to safely enjoy a gluten-free diet.


Many nourishing carbohydrates can be enjoyed on a gluten-free diet. Naturally gluten-free grains and flours, fruits, vegetables, dairy, proteins and fats offer carbohydrate options for gluten-free meals and baking. Checking labels, choosing dedicated gluten-free facilities, and preventing cross-contamination allows for safe gluten-free eating. With some adjustments, gluten can be avoided while still enjoying delicious carbohydrate foods.

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