For people suffering from celiac disease and other gluten intolerances, avoiding gluten is crucial to your health. Gluten can be labeled by different names, though, which can make it difficult to find and eliminate from your diet if you don't know what to look for.
Gluten by Other Names
Gluten can be hidden in many different food additives, without necessarily being labeled as such. Look out for the following ingredients which may contain some gluten.
The FDA defines natural flavoring as a product that is derived from a natural substance and contributes to flavor. This means that while not all natural flavors include gluten, if you see this term on the ingredient list, it may or may not include gluten-containing grains or derivatives and should be avoided.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer added to many foods. It is derived from the salt of the amino acid Glutamic Acid and may be made from foreign sources which use gluten-containing grains. In the United States, most monosodium glutamate is made from cane, beets or tapioca starch, but even in the U.S. some manufacturers still use wheat gluten.
Emulsifiers are used to change surface properties of other ingredients with which they are combined. An emulsifier may be made up of both a water and an oil molecule, which in turn helps oil and water to mix together when the emulsifier is added. Emulsifiers are added to many products including breads, chocolate, ice cream, margarine and processed meat. These emulsifiers may or may not contain gluten, depending on what they are being used for.
Lecithins are food additives that help to stabilize some foods. They are made from the hull of grain, and while it may come from a "safe" grain such as amaranth, it may also come from barley or other grains to be avoided by those eliminating gluten from their diet.
Caramel color is usually made of a combination of dextrose, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, starch hydrolysis or sucrose. Both the malt syrup and the starch hydrolysis are likely to contain gluten.
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein and Textured Vegetable Protein
Vegetarians and those who look to increase their protein sources through plant matter may look to products that contain Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein and Textured Vegetable Protein. They are usually made from a combination of wheat, corn and soy and therefore are likely to contain gluten.
Malto-Dextrose, also known as maltodexterin or dexterin is usually made from barely malt. This is a filler that may be added to some sugar-free or low-fat products such as ice cream to increase their density, mouth feel and flavor.
Other Names for Wheat
Wheat is one of the most prevalent sources of gluten and one of the most confusing to avoid. Wheat can be labeled many different ways, which can make avoiding it difficult:
- Binder or binding
- Cereal binders or cereal protein
- Duram (durum)
- Gum base
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Modified food starch
- Modified starch
- Special edible starch
- Thickener or thickening
- Triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye)
- Wheat alternative
Learn to Spot the Hidden Gluten
Taking charge of your health and your diet means learning to spot the hidden gluten in the foods you consume. Be on the lookout for any of these ingredients in foods not specifically labeled, "gluten-free" to ensure you are consuming exactly what you think you are.