- Vegetable oil is commonly used for cooking purposes, at home, and in the food industry.
- Commonly used vegetable oils include sunflower oil, canola oil, soyabean oil, and more.
- Vegetable oils are made from non-gluten sources, i.e., wheat, rye, or barley. They can be considered gluten-free.
- However, there’s always the possibility of cross-contamination, which might leave traces of gluten in vegetable oils.
Is vegetable oil gluten free? Going the gluten free route is not easy, many people who stopped eating gluten for various reasons find that every day items you never expect to contain gluten does.
Cooking oil is one of these items and in this article we will have a deep look at whether or not vegetable oil is gluten free and what to look out for when shopping for one.
If you have ever stepped into the kitchen to fix yourself a meal, you probably know that oil is an essential part of cooking.
Ever wondered about the underlying reasons for using cooking oil? Oils change the texture of the food and are suitable carriers of flavours.
There’s oil in almost everything – from salad to chicken curry. Cooking oil can be derived from plant-based sources, as well as animals. Butter, bacon grease, clarified butter or ghee – these come from animals.
But, the most common cooking oils are plant-based or what most call vegetable oil.
Generally, oils that come from seeds and stay in liquid form at room temperature are vegetable oils. Now, where do vegetable oils stand on the scale of gluten content?
Our favourite vegetable oils are mostly derived from non-gluten sources. So, vegetable oil is naturally gluten free. The only catch here is the possibility of cross-contamination or the presence of glutinous additives.
Is Vegetable Oil Gluten Free
Cooking oil is used for almost every preparation – from the bottle of store-bought mayo to a piece of Kentucky’s Fried Chicken (which, by the way, is covered in a crust made from a gluten-rich batter).
And, we all have a bottle of vegetable oil sitting on our kitchen shelves. But, if you are allergic to gluten or have celiac disease, it is important to make sure that the oil in your meals is free from gluten content.
Whether it’s the oil in which you cook your Chili or the one that you put in the dressing of your salad, the most popular vegetable oils come from non-gluten sources.
Other plant-based oils extracted from non-seed parts of plants, including avocado oil and olive oil, may also be broadly categorized as vegetable oils, and are made from non-gluten sources.
So, unless you’re going for wheat germ oil, which is extracted from a gluten source, the common vegetable oils from plant sources are supposed to be naturally free from gluten.
However, there is always the chance of cross-contamination, where the otherwise gluten free oil comes in touch with gluten-rich ingredients and ends up with some gluten content.
So, how will you know whether or not the vegetable oil you’re cooking your food is gluten free? Firstly, you need to find out if the oil is certified as gluten free.
The label with the list of ingredients should also be able to help you. Look out for additives and flavourings. You can also get in touch with the manufacturer to know more.
Oil derived from non-gluten ingredients is itself gluten free unless external gluten-containing ingredients get added to it during the time of manufacturing, processing, or storage.
This could be accidental, like in cross-contamination or because of additives. Any vegetable oil can be declared as gluten free if the gluten content in it is within the permissible limit of 20 ppm.
Decoding Food Labels to Find Gluten
As a gluten-intolerant person, you probably get told a lot of times that you need to check the label for gluten content.
But, what do you need to look for on the label? After all, in the US, manufacturers are not required to mention expressly if their products contain gluten.
So, how will you know if the vegetable oil you’re about to buy contains gluten or not? It sounds like quite a challenge, but don’t worry. Look for certain terms that are indicative of gluten content.
See if you find the following words on the list of ingredients:
● Triticum spelta
● Secale cereale
● Hordeum vulgare
● Triticum Vulgare
Some of the other ambiguous terms which might indicate the possibility of gluten content include the following:
● Modified starch
● Vegetable starch
● Flavouring Agents
● Colouring agent
● HVP (Hydrolyzed vegetable protein)
● HPP (Hydrolyzed plant protein)
Many of these may not be present in vegetable oils at all. But you can never be too careful.
What is Vegetable Oil?
So, we know that vegetable oils are commonly used for cooking. But how much do we actually know about them? Which oils can be categorized as vegetable oils, and what are their specialities?
Let’s quickly understand these details about your cooking oil.
Vegetable oils are plant-based edible oils. Most commonly, they are derived from the seeds. Some of the most popular vegetable oils come from sunflower seeds, soybean, rapeseed, and more.
An essential feature of vegetable oils is that they stay in a liquid state at room temperature.
Technically speaking, edible oils that come from parts of plants other than seeds may also be referred to as vegetable oils, though people conventionally do not prefer this categorization.
Olive oil and avocado oil come from pressing whole fruits. Other oils come from coconut and palm kernel, rice bran, and more. Some vegetable oils are a mix of two or more oils.
Why Do We Need Cooking Oil
A large number of calorie-conscious people have recently been shifting to non-fat food. They prefer to cook food without oil.
So, now the question is, why do we need to cook food in oil when we can easily eliminate the fat? Well, oil has its own purposes. These include the following:
a) Adds Texture – Oil helps to give texture to food. From crispy chips to crumbly short-crust pastry, oil is responsible for the texture of the food.
b) Prevents Burning and Sticking – Oil prevents the food from sticking to each other or the pot, and from getting burnt.
c) Enhances Flavor – Oil is an excellent carrier of the flavours of spices, aromatics, and meat, and vegetables. Some oils themselves add flavour and pungency to the dish.
d) Good Fat – Despite what magazine columns say, fat is good for your body, skin, and hair. They are also important when you’re on a no-carb diet.
Oils like coconut oil or rice bran oil have high flash points, which makes them perfect for frying food. In different parts of the world, oils are important as a signature flavouring agent in different cuisines.
For instance, olive oil is an essential part of Italian food, and mustard oil is essential in the northern and eastern parts of India.
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
Have you ever tried to replace butter with margarine? Do you know that they are made from vegetable oils?
To turn liquid vegetable oil to hard spread or margarine, hydrogen gas gets added to the oil, preventing spoilage due to oxidation.
This process of stabilizing oil using hydrogen is called hydrogenation. Now, hydrogenated oil will not contain gluten, as long as the oil being used is gluten free.
But, it is a good idea to stay away from hydrogenated oil, as it contains trans fat, which is harmful to your heart and cholesterol level.
Oil Used in Commercial Food Joints
When you are gluten allergic, the only solution for you to keep ailments at bay is a gluten free lifestyle.
Now, when you’re cooking at home, you can make sure that you are eating clean and using gluten free oil for cooking your food.
However, eating out is a different ball game. Even if an eatery promises to use gluten free oil in its cooking, there’s always the possibility of cross-contamination.
The food you’ve ordered might get cooked in the same oil in which some gluten-containing food has been cooked.
For instance, if the fryer has been used for cooking fried chicken dipped in a flour batter, there’s gluten in the oil. If the same oil is used for cooking your French fries, your order is left with traces of gluten.
As a result, you are consuming gluten, despite placing a non-gluten order.
In some cases, the same issue of cross-contamination may occur when common utensils or containers are used for preparing or storing both glutinous and non-glutinous food items or their ingredients. So, be careful when you eat out.
Possible Ill Effects of Vegetable Oils
Besides the possibility of allergen content, vegetable oils may also have some other problematic effects like the following –
1. Lopsided O6: O3 Ratio – It is important to consume oil with higher levels of Omega 3 than Omega 6, for reduced inflammation. Sadly, vegetable oils can contain very high levels of O6.
2. Gut disturbance – Vegetable oils can lead to inflammation, which can affect the gut. If you’re allergic to gluten, this can hinder the process of healing despite choosing a gluten free diet.
3. Immune Suppression – Vegetable oils can disturb flora and fauna in the gut that contains 80% of the immune system. This will suppress the immune system and cause you to fall ill often.
4. Weight Gain – Cutting out gluten from the diet can restore the ability of your body to relinquish excess fat. But the O6 in vegetable oils can lead to weight gain and increase your appetite.
Possible Allergens in Vegetable Oil
As you already know, the sources of gluten are wheat, barley, and rye. Of these, wheat is a source of edible oil.
It is popularly known as wheat germ oil, commonly used in salad dressing or eaten raw with pasta or veggies.
Now, even though highly refined wheat germ oil is considered to be free from gluten, it is best not to take any risk.
Remember that vegetable oils have the possibility of triggering other reactions, as many people are allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, or seeds.
Some of the common gluten free oils that can contain other allergens include peanut oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and sesame oil.
These oils, in their crude or semi-refined form, are a strict no-no. Usually, when you’re using refined oil, the allergens are removed; and unless you are severely allergic, it will not hurt you.
However, it is best not to take risks. You can simply choose the other vegetable oils, as no case of allergy to them has ever been reported, and are, therefore, safer options.
Gluten Free Oil Alternatives
There are many plant-based edible oils that are derived from non-seed parts of plants. These may be categorized as vegetable oils, though most people prefer not to include non-seed oils in the list of “vegetable oils”.
There are many such gluten free oils that you can add to your pantry to replace the conventional vegetable oils.
a) Olive Oil
Extracted from whole olives, olive oil is free from allergens like gluten and soy. It also has a long list of health benefits. In fact, it is considered the healthiest edible oil, with monounsaturated fats, phenols, and vitamins.
When exposed to high heat, it produces the least amount of harmful polar compounds. It is also known for reducing blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and more.
b) Avocado Oil
Produced from the pulp of avocado fruits, avocado oil is buttery in texture, which is a speciality of the fruit. It also adds a distinct nutty flavour to the food.
It is full of monounsaturated fat which is excellent for lowering cholesterol.
It also contains Vitamin E. Interestingly, it can boost the absorption of lutein, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants that are present in salad vegetables.
c) Coconut Oil
Extracted from the dried meat or copra of coconut, coconut oil has a powerful, tropical flavour. It contains large amounts of saturated fat, mainly as lauric acid.
Most of the coconut oil you consume will be burnt off, which means it does not get stored as body fat. Another feature of this oil is that it comes with antibacterial properties, and it can reduce harmful cholesterol.
For a healthy life, you need to pick the best oil option for yourself, even if it means that you need to replace your regular cooking oil for something new.
Most vegetable oils are made of non-gluten ingredients. Hence, they can be considered naturally gluten free. However, you have to be careful about the possibility of cross-contamination, or the presence of gluten-containing additives.
Even if you manage to find a vegetable or seed oil which is completely free from gluten, there might still be the possibility of some other health issues.
Weight gain, gut disturbance, immunity problems, reactions triggered by allergens in them – a lot can be caused by over-consumption of vegetable oil.
So, find highly refined oils with low O6 levels. Also, make sure that you’re not allergic to these oils or any of the ingredients in them. Another option is to select plant-based oils that are not derived from seeds.
There are healthier options like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and more.