Monday, 5 July 2010

To Oat or Not to Oat: The Big Grain Question

You may or may not have heard about the hoo-haa surrounding the suitability of oats in a gluten-free diet. Like other non-gluten free grains such as barely and rye, oats are often thought to be a no go area for gluten-free folks.
So now for the science bit.
There has been some question about whether oats are actually OK for coeliacs as they don't contain gliadin. As I understand it, gliadin plays a role in the formation of gluten. However, oats DO contain an analogue (an analogue being a biological structure which performs a similar function in a similar way. Confused yet?) of gliadin called avenin. Avenin is a prolamin (plant storage protein) that is toxic to the intestinal tract and can therefore trigger a reaction in some coeliacs. Still with me?
Several studies suggest that as long as oats are 'pure' they can be enjoyed as part of a gluten free diet, 'pure' oats being oats that are processed away other grains like barely that contain gluten so as not to contaminate them.
However the Codex Alimentarius Commission officially lists oats as containing gluten. It's all a bit of a conundrum!
If you are umming and ahhing over whether or not to include oats in your diet talk to your GP, dietitian or get on the Internet then you can make an informed decision for yourself.
If your missing your 'golden-glow' at breakfast time you will find most of the major supermarkets stock a gluten-free porridge now made from rice flakes and buckwheat (both safe).

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