Is Oatmeal Gluten-Free?

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Bowl of oatmeal with berries

Is oatmeal gluten-free | Oats Vs Oatmeal | Types Of Gluten-Free Oats | List Of Brands | How to buy | Recipe | Benefits | Risks | Oat Flour And Gluten

Oats have been consumed for centuries and are a staple food in many cultures.

Today, oats are commonly consumed as a breakfast item all over the world. They come in many forms, such as oatmeal, oat bran, and oat flour.

Oatmeal is made by adding water or milk to oats and boiling it to create a porridge-like consistency.

People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are often concerned about consuming oatmeal. Is oatmeal gluten-free?

Below is some detailed information that will help you understand if oatmeal is safe for people on a gluten-free diet.

Is oatmeal gluten free?

According to the U.S food and drug administration, pure oats do not contain gluten and are considered gluten-free. Since oatmeal is a byproduct of oats, uncontaminated oatmeal is also gluten-free.

However, the risk of cross-contamination increases as oatmeal goes through different levels of production, processing, and storage. Thus, it may be contaminated with gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye, or barley during the growing or harvesting process.

Therefore, it is important only to buy oats that are certified gluten-free if you are sensitive to gluten.

Difference between oats and oatmeal

Oats (Avena sativa) are a cereal grain harvested from a species of grass. They are the whole grain form of the crop, while oatmeal is a processed food made by grinding oats into a powder.

Oats are nutritious whole grains that can be eaten cooked or raw. They contain important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help boost your health.

Oatmeal, on the other hand, is lightly processed food that has thus been stripped of some of its nutrients.

Types of gluten-free oats available on the market

There are three types of oats that are commonly available on the market:

1. Rolled oats/old-fashioned oats

Rolled oats are flattened and steamed before being packaged. They are soft in texture.

2. Steel-cut oats

Steel-cut oats have been cut into pieces with a steel blade and take longer to cook than rolled oats. They are coarser and chewy in texture.

3. Quick/Instant oats

Instant oats have been pre-cooked, dried, and then packaged. They are usually flavored.

List of brands that offer certified gluten-free oats

Some of the brands that offer gluten-free oats include:

  • Bob’s Red Mill
  • Quaker Oats
  • GF Harvest
  • Glutenfreeda
  • Prairie

Tips for buying gluten-free oats

If you are concerned about consuming gluten-contaminated oats, you can keep the following tips in mind:

1. Check the label

The gluten-free label must be prominently displayed on the packaging. If you need more clarification, contact the manufacturer to confirm that their oats are, in fact, gluten-free.

As per FDA, oats labeled gluten-free should contain less than 20 ppm [1]U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Questions and Answers on the Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule gluten.

2. Check the allergen listing

The allergen listing includes, but is not limited to, wheat, barley, and rye. If any of these are listed, the oats are not gluten-free.

3. Buy certified gluten-free oats

Look for the “GFCO” logo on the packaging to be sure that the oats have been certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.

4. Avoid cross-contamination

Check that the products labeled gluten-free are packaged in a dedicated gluten-free facility to avoid cross-contamination with other grains that may contain gluten.

Make your own gluten-free oatmeal

Oatmeal is the easiest, healthy dish to cook at home. Here is a quick and easy recipe for gluten-free oatmeal:

  1. Combine 1 cup of gluten-free oats with 2 cups of water in a pot.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add your favorite toppings.
  5. If you want a creamier consistency, add milk instead of water. You can also add fruit, nuts, and berries to make them healthier and more filling.

Health benefits of oats

There are several health benefits associated with eating oats. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Oats are high in fiber, [2]Harvard T.H. Chan: Oats which helps to regulate digestion and prevent constipation.
  2. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including thiamine, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
  3. Oats contain Avenanthramides, [3]ResearchGate: Potential health benefits of avenanthramides of oats which are compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds may help to protect against heart disease and cancer.
  4. Eating oats regularly has been shown to lower cholesterol [4]National Library of Medicine: Processing of oat: the impact on oat’s cholesterol lowering effect levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Potential risks of oats

While there are many health benefits associated with eating oats, some potential risks should be considered. Some of these risks include: 

  1. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities should avoid eating uncertified oats because they may contain gluten. This is because oats are often processed in the same facilities as wheat products.
  2. Some evidence suggests that avenin, a protein found in oats, can trigger an immune response in some people who are sensitive to gluten. This immune response can cause inflammation and damage to the small intestine. A study [5]PubMed: Ingestion of oats and barley in patients with celiac disease mobilizes cross-reactive T cells activated by avenin peptides and immuno-dominant hordein peptides shows a small number of people with celiac disease reacted negatively to consuming a large quantity of oats.
  3. Some people may be allergic to avenin, a protein found in oats. Symptoms of an avenin allergy can include hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal distress.

Is oat flour gluten-free?

While most commercial brands of oat flours claim to be “gluten-free,” they may still contain traces of gluten because they are often processed in shared facilities. 

Thus, there could be a high possibility of gluten contamination with other gluten-containing grains. For this reason, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities should avoid eating oat flour.


Oats are naturally gluten-free cereal grains. As such, pure oatmeal is also gluten-free. However, it is often contaminated with gluten grains during the growing or harvesting process. Thus, individuals on a gluten-free diet must be careful when consuming oats or products.

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