If you're one of the millions of Americans with celiac disease or another form of gluten intolerance, it is crucial to know the surprising food additives that might contain gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley and spelt, but it can also be in a number of processed food ingredients. Become informed and read labels to avoid ingesting gluten accidentally, particularly if you have celiac disease.
1. Asian Foods
A number of additives used in Asian foods contain gluten. You might be surprised that wheat is an additive in soy sauce, hoisin sauce and other Asian sauces. MSG can also be a source of hidden gluten, according to the Gluten Free Society. Make Chinese food at home to avoid the gluten-containing additives so common to this ethnic cuisine. Another option is finding Asian restaurants that cater to the gluten-free lifestyle by using gluten-free soy sauce and avoiding gluten-containing additives. Check out the Gluten Free Registry for a list of celiac-friendly restaurants in your area.
Modified food starch and other food and vegetable starches are often a source of hidden gluten in processed foods, according to Dr. Amy Myers, an expert on the gluten-free lifestyle. Scan labels for food starch, wheat starch and modified food starch, which can all contain gluten. Other food starches such as hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, hydroxypropylated starch and pregelatinized starch may also contain gluten, according to the Gluten Free Society.
3. Vegetable Protein
Gluten can be in a number of ingredients, including modified vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant/vegetable protein and textured vegetable protein, which is often found in vegan meat replacement products like seitan. While these ingredients aren't guaranteed to contain gluten, they are often manufactured from wheat, and labels don't usually specify the source. Vegetable proteins are often used as binders in processed foods, a typical use for gluten.
4. Other Additives to Avoid
A number of other food additives can be made from wheat and other gluten-containing grains; these additives include citric acid, baking powder, artificial and natural colors/flavors, maltodextrin, glucose syrup, caramel color or flavor, emulsifiers and enzymes, according to Myers. Read labels carefully and avoid foods with questionable ingredients. The easiest way to avoid gluten-containing food additives is to simply cut out processed foods. A whole foods diet with healthy foods prepared at home is one of the best ways to ensure that you are truly avoiding gluten. If you've removed gluten but are still having symptoms such as digestive bloating, skin problems, headaches or joint pain, it may pay to do some detective work in your pantry and at restaurants you frequent to make sure you have eliminated all gluten from your diet.