What Are Gluten-Free Nuts?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 15 May 2020
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Simply stated, gluten-free nuts refer to any nut that does not contain gluten. Gluten, a Latin term derived from the word meaning glue, is a protein-based composite that acts as an adhesive in many foods. It is a product of wheat, barley, and rye in the culinary realm, providing an elastic property to dough or other foods. Gluten-free nuts and other foods either lack this trademark elastic property or rely on alternative components for the glue-like structure.

There has been an increasing public awareness of a food's composition in relation to gluten, which has caused many packaged products to contain information pertaining to whether or not gluten is present. This is largely due to cases of gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is generally caused by a disease affecting between 0.5 and 1.0 percent of United States citizens, known as celiac disease.

Gluten sensitivity may be symptomatic or asymptomatic, and its characteristics rely heavily on the particular individual in question. The symptoms may range from inflammation and digestive issues to a broader spectrum, including generalized pain. A number of treatment options are available, but the most effective method of eradicating the symptoms is in the prevention of gluten consumption.

When this glue-like substance is to be removed from a food, as is the case with gluten-free nuts, a specific procedure is utilized to do so. Gluten binds strongly to starch, so if starch is rinsed or drained from a food, most if not all of the gluten is likely to follow. For example, if a nut inherently contains gluten, washing or draining them in a saline solution will produce gluten-free nuts.

There are also varieties of gluten-free nuts that exist as such in nature. These may be the safest option for someone suffering from a negative gluten sensitivity as they are free of gluten. The specific list of these products tends to vary depending on source but typically includes dried beans, dried peas, and peanut butter, as well as almond and cashew butter. Also commonly found on the list are most tree nuts.

It is important to realize that many nut-based products may contain additives that have gluten in them. For example, although a peanut itself may not contain gluten, a peanut brittle bar may have other ingredients causing a reaction to gluten for the consumer. It is therefore necessary to read all of the ingredients on a package in determining its properties.


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