When it comes to maintaining a gluten-free diet, it's important to have a clear understanding of which foods and ingredients contain gluten.
Olive oil is a widely used cooking fat for foods like salad dressing and pasta and many love it because its gluten-free.
In this article, we delve into the topic and explore why olive oil is gluten-free, considering various factors such as cross-contamination concerns, production processes, labeling regulations, and health benefits.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives. It provides elasticity and helps food maintain its shape.
For individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can lead to various health issues, ranging from mild discomfort to severe intestinal damage.
According to research:
- 1 in 100, or about 1% of people worldwide suffer from celiac disease.
- Approximately 60% - 70% of Americans that have the disease are unaware they have it.
- An accurate diagnosis can take years, approximately 6 - 10 years on average.
- There are more than 200 symptoms associated with the disease.
If you suspect you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease it's very important to speak with a medical professional such as your primary care doctor.
Is Olive Oil Gluten-Free?
In short, yes olive oil is gluten free because it's 100% derived from the olive fruit which contains no gluten.
It's widely used for cooking and finishing dishes and has gained recognition for its health benefits. It contains monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients, making it a popular choice among health-conscious individuals.
How Is It Made?
There are several different qualities of olive oil including, ordinary, virgin, and extra virgin. Although technically all of these fats are made from the same fruit they each go through different levels of refinement.
Ordinary is a refined product. It goes though a mechanical extraction process that involves a mill and centrifuge. However, it's then refined through heat and sometimes chemical correction.
You will often see it sold on the grocery store shelf in a clear bottle and with a lower price point.
Extra virgin is not refined. It goes through a mechanical extraction process that only involves the milling and centrifuging of the fruit at a cold temperature and does not introduce any new ingredients.
You'll often find it in a dark glass bottle or tin and at a higher price point. This is because the product is quite costly to make and you cannot correct it through refinement.
Related: How Do They Make EVOO?
Cross-contamination can occur during production or packaging processes. If fruit is grown or processed in facilities that also handle gluten-containing grains or if the equipment used is not properly cleaned, there is a risk of cross-contamination.
However, reputable manufacturers take precautions to prevent cross-contamination, minimizing the risk.
How to Avoid Cross-Contamination
Buy from small and reputable brands, such as EXAU, that exclusively produce high-quality EVOO in facilities that exclusively handle olives. This way there's no risk of cross-contamination because no other product is introduced into the facility.
In many countries, including the United States and the European Union, labeling regulations exist to provide consumers with accurate information about the gluten content of food products.
If a product contains gluten or is at risk of cross-contamination, reputable manufacturers will usually disclose this information on the label. Closely reading product labels and looking for certifications can help ensure you're making the right choice.
Apart from being gluten free, olive oil offers numerous health benefits. It contains monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy fats.
Regular consumption of the product has been linked to reduced inflammation, improved cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of heart disease! In addition, it's rich in antioxidants including polyphenols.
For a deeper dive into the world of olive oil take a look at our book!
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