Is Corn Gluten Free? | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  • Gluten-sensitive individuals can still eat corn as it has no gluten ingredients.
  • The celiac disease foundation says people with celiac disease can eat corn.
  • Arguably, there is something like gluten in corn, so it is not safe for everyone.
  • Corn is one of the most popular foods and is probably healthy for most people.
  • Corn is naturally gluten-free, but corn dishes may contain gluten.

You need to minimize or avoid many foods on a low-gluten or gluten-free diet. Is corn gluten-free? How careful do you have to be with corn-based foods?

Corn does not have anything like wheat gluten in it and is usually fine for people with gluten sensitivity. Some say that there is such a thing as corn gluten, but it is usually too different to affect people with celiac disease. Foods made from corn may contain other ingredients that have gluten.

I am on a low-gluten diet and I still eat corn. Many people that strictly avoid gluten eat corn. However, celiac disease is complicated and some people may react badly to something similar to gluten in corn.

Table of contents


Is Corn Gluten-Free?

There is never anything like wheat gluten found naturally in corn. Gluten in food comes from a few plants - wheat (including ancient forms of it), rye, barley, and triticale.

However, "corn gluten" or something similar to gluten is found in corn. Most of the time, it is fine for people who avoid gluten. People can regularly eat corn with no symptoms on a gluten-free diet.

How Serious Is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten intolerance can be serious. It can repeatedly make you sick, ruining your quality of life and leading to other health problems. However, things rapidly get better once you know about the cause of your problems.

Once you know you have gluten intolerance, you can quickly get used to a gluten-free diet. Most of your favorite foods and drinks may already be gluten-free. However, wheat is a very common ingredient in food, so you will have to look for gluten-free substitutes for many foods.

Corn May Contain a Form of Gluten

Corn does not contain the same kind of gluten that wheat does. When people say "gluten", they refer to the kind of gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye.

However, there are similar substances found in some other grains. Could any of these substances or other forms of gluten be harmful to people with celiac disease?

There is not enough research to know for sure. I can easily eat corn with gluten sensitivity. However, some gluten-like substances in other grains may affect some people with celiac disease.

What Is Corn Gluten?

Corn contains zein, which is vaguely similar to wheat gluten. Probably, it is too different to affect most people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

According to the Celiac Sprue Association, corn gluten is usually fine for people with celiac disease. Zein is too different from wheat gluten to hurt anyone who has the disease.

Corn flour is often used as an alternative to wheat flour for gluten-free products. People can usually eat these corn flour products with no celiac symptoms. Generally, it is right to assume that you can eat corn on a gluten-free diet.

Is Corn Safe On A Gluten-Free Diet?

Possibly, some people with celiac disease should avoid corn. The vast majority of the research is on wheat gluten and celiac disease, what corn gluten does is not yet well understood.

Dr.Michael Osborne, who educates the public and other doctors about gluten sensitivity, believes corn gluten can be harmful. The amino acids in zein are similar to those in wheat gluten, so they may hurt some people that have the disease.

If you are trying to improve your digestive health, try eliminating corn from your diet for a few weeks. You can test foods to see how they affect you this way. Many people with serious digestive problems fully get their health back by learning what foods they need to avoid.

What is Cross-Reactivity?

Cross-reactivity is where your body reacts to a similar but not identical substance found in food. The term is often used when talking about pollen allergies.

For example, someone who reacts badly to birch tree pollen might not be able to eat apples. The apples contain a similar substance that will give them an allergic reaction.

What Does the National Celiac Association Say?

The National Celiac Association says that corn gluten is fine for people with celiac disease. You only need to worry about other grains being present in your corn-based foods.

Corn is Heavily Modified

Corn is more genetically modified than most other foods. This does not mean it contains gluten or is bad for people with celiac disease.

However, it might not be the best for people with digestive problems. Corn was always hard to digest. On another level, it has a lot of fiber in it, so it might help some people with intestinal problems.

There is no clear answer to how safe corn is for people who avoid gluten. You might have to experiment to find out. If it gives you symptoms even though it has no gluten in it, you should avoid it.

Corn is Fine for Most Gluten Sensitive People

Don't get the impression that eating gluten is dangerous for anyone with digestive problems. People are right to turn to corn as an alternative to wheat. Many gluten-free products that celiac sufferers eat without problems contain corn.

It is also not an inherently unhealthy food. Corn is in many ways healthy whether or not you are on a gluten-free diet.

Are Corn-Based Foods Safe for the Gluten Intolerant?

Most corn-based foods don’t have gluten-containing ingredients. You can still eat corn meal, corn starch, frozen corn, creamed corn, etc as they are all naturally gluten-free.

Most cornbread recipes are gluten-free. You have to be more careful with things like tortilla chips and other baked goods because they have more ingredients.

If you are severely intolerant, carefully check and double-check the ingredients. Not all corn products contain only gluten-free grains.

Is Corn Used As Animal Feed?

Yes, many animals are fed corn. Feeding a cow corn is unhealthy compared to feeding a cow grass, and the meat is less healthy for humans. However, eating meat from a corn-fed animal won't give you celiac symptoms.

Normally, meat never has any gluten in it, no matter what the animal is fed. Meat is always naturally gluten-free.

However, prepared meat might include ingredients that have gluten. There's a chance of exposure to gluten when eating meat, so read the ingredients.

Is Fruit Gluten-Free?

Yes, all fruit is gluten-free unless it has other ingredients. Meat and fruit will not contain gluten. Vegetables are also gluten-free.