What Exactly Is Gluten?

céréales sans gluten

Gluten free! I’m sure you’ve heard of the term at the dinner table or at parties, but what exactly is gluten?

Many people call gluten a protein. In fact, it is not a protein by itself. Gluten is a composite protein made up of two sub-proteins; glutenin and gliadin. The word is Latin for ‘glue’ which technically is one of its functions – keeping the doughy stuff together to make food chewy.

Where does gluten come from?

The primary source of gluten is grains. So, food processed from wheat, barley, rye, oats and others, will surely have them. Examples of food items with this protein includes beer, bread, crackers, pastas, pizza dough, ice cream, processed meat like hotdogs, veggie burgers, energy bars, soy sauce, candies, pastries, salad dressing, and more.

Why Do We Use Gluten?

Modern Western cuisine use gluten for several reasons.

Gluten is used as a binder, helping to keep different ingredients blended together in an appealing or useful way. Sometimes its used to provide heavier substance to some products, like in sauces.

Gluten is often used as an additive to make foods that would otherwise be low in protein much higher in protein. For instance, you will often find it in meat-substitute foods, such as veggie sandwich slices.

Moreover, gluten is often used in baked goods. We all love our baguette, croissant, brioche, fougasse, pain brie but did you know gluten provides the chewy elasticity we’ve come to love in everything from breads to cakes and cookies?

Aside from giving the dough its elastic characteristic, it is also used in cosmetics and hair products. On its own, this protein has a chalky taste that is similar to that of cornstarch.

So, is gluten safe for consumption?

A short answer will be Yes and No but its not that simple.

While most people still feel that gluten is a healthy part of a good diet, there is a growing part of the health industry that is becoming a little bit concerned about it.

While gluten may be fine for most people as it does contribute fiber, protein and vitamins like vitamin B and folic acid to our diets, a growing number of people are discovering that they experience an adverse reaction to consuming foods with gluten.

What about a gluten free diet?

Healthy Gluten free Foods

When you think about it, most of the food that people eat today contains gluten which makes it hard but not impossible for people to stick to a gluten-free diet.

In fact, many of the foods you’ve been eating are naturally gluten free. This includes most fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, beans, and nuts, fresh meat, fresh fish, eggs, milk, cheese, crème fraîche and natural yogurt. There are a lot of dishes you can make with some combination of these foods.

In fact, you’ve probably eaten quite a few gluten free meals in your life without even thinking about it. Besides, making meals for yourself and your family using these types of fresh ingredients is often healthier.

However, here are some foods you should avoid if you are on a gluten-free diet. These foods contain gluten.

Pies, bread, pasta, cereals, biscuits or crackers, cakes and pastries, gravies and sauces.

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