As I was walking the dogs through the farm fields this morning, I was wondering what I should write about next. Up the hill, through a field of oats and it occurred to me that those interested in cutting out gluten from their diets might think that they MUST buy gluten-free oats, but this might not be the case…
Oats are naturally gluten-free. So you would think that it would be quite safe to consume them and avoid gluten. The problem is that oats are often grown alongside other grains. The fields behind us our a prime example – oats, wheat and corn all grown adjacent to each other. Not surprisingly, there are ears of corn and wheat in the oat field and vice-versa, and my understanding is that the same farm machinery is used to harvest them.
Now this isn’t really a problem unless you are a Coeliac, as the amount of gluten contamination you would be talking about is pretty small. However, for a Coeliac, who cannot tolerate even the smallest amount, this could be enough to bring on some very unpleasant symptoms!
The only answer for a Coeliac is to buy gluten-free oats. These oats have been grown and harvested in a protected environment where there is no chance of contamination from wheat, barley or rye, (which all contain gluten).
For the rest of us, I think it is a personal choice. For my family I chose to buy organic, gluten-free oats, but often the choice is either organic or gluten-free and not both. In this instance, I would personally opt for organic, as this means the oats should contain minimal pesticides – something that I personally would want to avoid more than the possibility of a tiny amount of gluten.
If you are gluten intolerant like me, then it might be that you find a particular brand that works for you, and stick with it. These are the oats that I buy here.
Although generally, we don’t eat too many grains in our house, I do like oats! A comment from my friend Helen, at Little Cooks Co, explains why they are so good:
“Oats are extremely high in beta glucan which is a soluble fibre well known for its cholesterol lowering properties. It is also very effective at helping the body to balance blood sugar levels and maintain healthy gut bacteria”.