Breakfast enthusiasts, snackers, and health fanatics of all kinds have been eating granola for more than 100 years. Despite this long track record, many still wonder, “Is granola gluten-free?”
That’s an important question. Because even though granola is full of good carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat — as well as beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber — it is still made with grain.
And grains like corn and wheat are notorious for causing discomfort in those who are sensitive to gluten.
In this article, we’ll answer the question, “Is granola gluten-free?” and tell you everything you need to know to decide for yourself whether granola is right for you.
We’ll also let you in on how you can be a part of The Soulfull Project’s unique community efforts to supply servings of hot cereal — that contains many of the same healthy ingredients as granola — to food banks in your area.
What Is Gluten?
Before we answer the question, “Is granola gluten-free?” we need to define the two components that are at the heart of the matter — gluten and granola.
Let’s start with gluten.
Gluten is the common name for a class of proteins found in four major grains:
- Triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye)
You’ll also find gluten in grains derived from these species, including spelt, kamut, emmer, and einkorn.
Other grains such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, flax, and pure oats do not contain gluten and are, therefore, gluten-free. Only wheat, rye, barley, and triticale contain gluten.
But, by extension, any products made with these grains — such as bread, pasta, some sauces, salad dressing, and beer (just to name a few) — will also contain gluten and could irritate your stomach.
What Is Granola?
Most people look at granola and only see the toppings. But to truly get to know granola (and be able to answer the question, “Is granola gluten-free?”), you have to look underneath all the extras.
At its most basic, granola is a mix of oats, an oil or butter, and a sweetener that binds everything together. One of the nice things about granola is that you can customize those three basic ingredients in a wide variety of ways.
For example, with oats as the base, you could also add other grains like quinoa, flax, and chia for extra nutrition and flavor.
For the oil or butter, you might choose ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil. For the sweetener, healthy options include honey, agave, or maple syrup.
All of these components are gluten-free, so that, then, begs the question at the heart of this article.
Is Granola Gluten-Free?
As long as the base ingredients in the granola are gluten-free, the granola itself will be gluten-free as well.
Unfortunately, some producers process and package their oats and granola on the same machines as barley, wheat, and rye (the gluten grains). This contaminates both the ingredients and the final product.
To prevent normally gluten-free products like oatmeal, hot cereal, and granola from cross-contamination, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set a threshold of 19 parts per million in gluten-free products.
In other words, if you were to sift through one million oat grains or, by extension, one million pieces of granola, you would only find 19 that contain gluten.
Such a low ratio means that the vast majority of granola eaters can answer the question, “Is granola gluten-free?” with a resounding, “Yes!”
That said, many people still experience stomach distress after eating granola. Why is that?
The Problem Might Not Be Granola
1) You’re Too Sensitive
And we mean that in the nicest way! Gluten sensitivity can vary from person to person.
Even if you don’t suffer from celiac disease — the most severe form of the sensitivity — your stomach may still become irritated if you eat a product that includes gluten.
For example, if you have a high sensitivity, the 19 parts per million in gluten-free granola may still cause distress.
To experiment, add a very basic granola — just the oats, sweetener, and oil — in small amounts to your diet slowly over the course of several days. By doing this, you can find the amount of granola that works for you.
2) Gluten-Free Isn’t Just For Grains
Sometimes, the question isn’t, “Is granola gluten-free?” but, rather, “Are the extras I’m adding gluten-free?”
Most toppings are naturally gluten-free, but even foods such as spinach, apples, zucchini, and bananas may be contaminated with trace amounts of the protein on their journey to your table.
That’s why we recommend always washing your fruits and vegetables before adding them to your granola.
And be sure to check the package of any toppings you want to add to your granola to ensure that they’re gluten-free first. That way, you won’t be adding gluten to your meal without knowing it.
3) It’s Fiber’s Fault
Sometimes, it’s not the very small amount of gluten in granola that causes distress. It could be the fiber. Fiber is a beneficial nutrient, but your body may not be used to it if you haven’t eaten a lot of it before.
Oats — and, by extension, granola — contain naturally high amounts of fiber.
Reduce the amount of granola you eat and give your digestive system time to adapt to the extra fiber. You just might find that what you thought was gluten sensitivity was simply your body reacting to a high-fiber food.
4) You’re The Oat-Intolerant Type
Even if you’re careful about the toppings and accustomed to high amounts of fiber, you may still experience digestive issues when eating granola.
In that case, you might suffer from oat intolerance.
Oats contain a protein called avenin. A small percentage of people are allergic to this protein, just as other people are allergic to gluten.
So if you’re oat intolerant and you eat granola made with oats, you’ll likely feel the same discomfort you would if you were sensitive to gluten. To find out which protein is the one giving you problems, consult a doctor or dietician.
As an alternative, you could also try making granola with other gluten-free grains like quinoa, flax, and chia.
Is granola gluten-free? check The Package
The best way to ensure that your granola breakfast won’t irritate your stomach is to look for the words “Gluten-Free” on the package. That also applies to any ingredients you include if you make your own granola, as well as to any toppings you add just before digging in.
We can’t do much about the toppings you choose, but we can provide the gluten-free ingredients you need to make your granola taste delicious.
At The Soulfull Project, we make our hot cereals with gluten-free oats so you can enjoy amazing nutrition and flavor without the digestive problems.
Our hot cereals also contain other gluten-free grains, such as:
These extras add a delicious and vitamin-packed kick to any granola recipe and help you power through to lunch and beyond.
Look for the “Gluten-Free” on many of The Soulfull Project’s oatmeals and hot cereals, including:
- Toasted Coconut Multigrain Hot Cereal
- Apple Cinnamon Multigrain Hot Cereal
- Brown Sugar Pecan Multigrain Hot Cereal
- Quick Cook Irish Oatmeal Hot Cereal
No matter which gluten-free option you choose to include in your granola, for every serving you purchase — be in it a single-serving cup or in a multipack — we provide the same number of servings of our hot cereal to a food bank in your area.
We hope that this program will make it easier for all of us to improve our own health and happiness, as well as the health and happiness of our neighbors.
For more information on the serving-for-serving program and to check out all of our delicious gluten-free oatmeal and hot cereal flavors, visit TheSoulfullProject.com today.