Concerning Oats

Study Okays Oats Opinions About Oats in the Celiac Diet
"Pure" Oat Sources

Contaminated Oats - Mainstream Products

General summary: The majority of celiac centers and support groups feel that the consumption of gluten-free oats in moderation is accceptable for celiacs. There are some that don't, however, including the Celiac Sprue Association. It is always recommended to refrain from consuming oats until a patient's antibody levels test negative and approval is given by a physician. And then it is recommended to start with only one-quarter cup to determine how the patient does with the oats, and then gradually increase the amount consumed.

Study Okays Oats for Celiac Patients
An article about this study can be seen on

Opinions About Oats and Celiac Disease
The following are statements about the appropriateness of oats in the celiac diet. The consumptin of oats is still being debated for the celiac population. Some authorities feel it is not safe until more studies are done, while others feel it is beneficial to include it in the celiac diet once the digestive system of the patient has stabilized.

Until the debate is resolved, each individual must decide for themselves whether to include oats in their diet. It is recommended that a person should only consider including oats in their diet after healing of the upper intestine from celiac disease has occurred. Only then is it suggested by some to limit consumption to 1/2 cup of dry oats a day. Please consult with your physician before beginning the consumption of oats.

From Shelley Case, Author and Dietician specializing in celiac disease (2010):

From Gluten Free Living (2008)

If oats are grown and produced where there is not a cross-contamination problem, then they are considered gluten-free. GF oats can be a great source for nutrients and roughage in your diet. These "pure" oats are only available from certified gluten-free companies, and will be marked GF on the package (some Henry's sell them). Mainstream oats in products (including Quaker Oats and McCann's) are not considered GF. Additionally, some people (both celiacs and non-celiacs) react to the protein in oats called "avenin". It is a different protein intolerance than celiac disease. If someone has an intolerance to avenin, they will react to oats with gastrointestinal symptoms.

Recommendations: Consider adding oats to your diet only after your anitbody levels are normal and your symptoms have abated, you have consulted with your physician or dietician, and then only begin with small amounts (1/4 cup). If you have a reaction, stop eating oats. (Information taken from Gluten-Free Living magazine, March 2008.) 11/08

From the CSA Website (2009)
See the CSA website about oats at

From Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, the Gluten-Free Dietician to the Celiac Listserv in 9/09
"For those who may be newly diagnosed it is important to know that it is strongly recommended that you eat only those oats that are labeled gluten free. Labeled gluten-free oats are grown=2C harvested=2C and processed under very carefully controlled conditions and are regularly tested for gluten. Before labeled gluten-free oats were available McCann's and sometimes Country Choice were recommended as options for those individuals with celiac disease who wanted to eat oats. Recommendations have changed. In 2004 I published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that assessed the gluten content of 4 different lots of 3 brands of oats. McCann's and Country Choice were below 3 ppm gluten to 725 ppm gluten. The 4 lots of Country Choice contained from below 3 ppm gluten to 210 ppm gluten. If you are interested in the numbers for all samples tested let me know and I will send them to you. There also are articles in the newsletter section of my website that discuss oats."

From Ron Hogan, co-author of Dangerous Grains, Why Gluten Grains may be Hazardous to Your Health (2002), to the Celiac Listserv in 9/09

"The emerging perspective is that oats are safe for those with celiac disease because avenin does not contain the sequences that trigger an autoimmune attack on the intestinal wall. While this is probably true, we do not know if avenins can trigger increased zonulin release and hence, increased intestinal permeability which is another facet of the hazards of celiac disease that appears to be unrelated to villous morphology. Neither do we know if avenins can, when coming in contact with internal tissues, damage cells in ways that gliadin has been demonstrated to do. Some studies report adverse reactions to oats among their study participants. In other investigations some subjects dropped out but their reasons for doing so are not reported.

To my knowledge, no studies have been conducted to determine whether those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity can tolerate oats. Since Anderson and colleagues report that non-celiac gluten sensitive individuals they tracked through medical testing records experience a higher risk of developing some cancers and lymphomas than celiac patients identified in the same data base (1). While both groups showed higher than expected death rates, the gluten sensitive patients experienced a higher death rate than the celiac patients (1). Since those who are gluten sensitive outnumber those with celiac disease (in the general population) by about 10 to 1, there is a good chance that many self-diagnosed members of this listserv have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I would suggest that we all err on the side of caution and avoid oats for a few more years.

The most recent revelation from Dr. Fasano and colleagues at U. Maryland suggests that we will soon have a much better understanding of the leaky gut that is found in both of these gluten-driven ailments, as well as in several other autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 diabetes. We may then be in a better position to evaluate the safety of oats for both celiac patients and non-celiac gluten sensitive patients."

"Pure" Oats Sources

There is evidently a common cross-contamination problem with oats grown and prepared in the traditional way. When tested most commercially prepared regular oats had unacceptable amounts of gluten. However, there are now three companies that grow and produce oats in very strict procedures to eliminate the cc problems. One of these may be found at the Henry's markets in San Diego. These companies are:

Bob's Red Mill

Cream Hill Estates

Farm Pure Foods

Gifts of Nature

Gluten Free Oats

Glutenfreeda (instant oatmeal)

Legacy Valley

Contaminated Mainstream Oat Products

Part of an article in the Chicago Tribune in the fall of 2008 reported on the amounts of gluten they found in main-stream oat products due to cross-contamination. The following are the results they gave:
920 ppm - Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
190 ppm - Jewel (Albertson's) Old Fashioned Oats
160 ppm - McCann's Imported Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal
130 ppm - HappyBellies Baby Oatmeal Cereal
79 ppm - Whole Foods 365 Organic Rolled Oats
36 ppm - Country Choice Irish Style Oats

The proposed acceptable standard by the FDA is 20 ppm, which makes all of these products not gluten-free. This reinforces the current recommendation to only use oats labeled as "gluten-free".


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