From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about a protein found in certain grains. For a type of sticky rice (which does not contain any gluten), see Glutinous rice. For food products made from gluten, see Wheat gluten (food).
Sources of gluten: Clockwise from top: high-gluten wheat flour, European spelt, barley, rolled rye flakes

Gluten (from Latin gluten, "glue") is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

Gluten is the composite of two storage proteins, gliadin and a glutenin, and is conjoined with starch in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.

The fruit of most flowering plants have endosperms with stored protein to nourish embryonic plants during germination. True gluten is limited to certain members of the grass family. The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from true gluten.


Gluten is extracted from flour by kneading the flour, agglomerating the gluten into an elastic network, a dough, and then washing out the starch. Starch granules disperse in cold/low-temperature water, and the dispersed starch is sedimented and dried.[1] If a saline solution is used instead of water, a purer protein is obtained, with certain harmless impurities departing to the solution with the starch. Where starch is the prime product, cold water is the favored solvent because the impurities depart from the gluten.

In home or restaurant cooking, a ball of wheat flour dough is kneaded under water until the starch disperses out. In industrial production, a slurry of wheat flour is kneaded vigorously by machinery until the gluten agglomerates into a mass. This mass is collected by centrifugation, then transported through several stages integrated in a continuous process.[2] About 65% of the water in the wet gluten is removed by means of a screw press; the remainder is sprayed through an atomizer nozzle into a drying chamber, where it remains at an elevated temperature a short time to evaporate the water without denaturing the gluten. The process yields a flour-like powder with a 7% moisture content, which is air cooled and pneumatically transported to a receiving vessel. In the final step, the collected gluten is sifted and milled to produce a uniform product.[3]


Wheat, a prime source of gluten

Bread products[edit]

Gluten forms when glutenin molecules cross-link to form a submicroscopic network attached to gliadin, which contributes viscosity (thickness) and extensibility to the mix.[4] If this dough is leavened with yeast, fermentation produces carbon dioxide bubbles, which, trapped by the gluten network, cause the dough to rise. Baking coagulates the gluten, which, along with starch, stabilizes the shape of the final product. Gluten content has been implicated as a factor in the staling of bread, possibly because it binds water through hydration.[5]

The development of gluten (i.e., enhancing its elasticity) affects the texture of the baked goods. Gluten's attainable elasticity is proportional to its content of glutenins with low molecular weights as this portion contains the preponderance of the sulfur atoms responsible for the cross-linking in the network.[6][7] More refining (of the gluten) leads to chewier products such as pizza and bagels, while less refining yields tender baked goods such as pastry products.[8]

Generally, bread flours are high in gluten (hard wheat); pastry flours have a lower gluten content. Kneading promotes the formation of gluten strands and cross-links, creating baked products that are chewier (in contrast to crumbly). The "chewiness" increases as the dough is kneaded for longer times. An increased moisture content in the dough enhances gluten development,[8] and very wet doughs left to rise for a long time require no kneading (see no-knead bread). Shortening inhibits formation of cross-links and is used, along with diminished water and less kneading, when a tender and flaky product, such as a pie crust, is desired.

The strength and elasticity of gluten in flour is measured in the baking industry using a farinograph. This gives the baker a measurement of quality for different varieties of flours in developing recipes for various baked goods.[9][10]

Added gluten[edit]

Gluten, when dried and milled to a powder and added to ordinary flour dough, improves a dough's ability to rise and increases the bread's structural stability and chewiness.[11] Gluten-added dough must be worked vigorously to induce it to rise to its full capacity; an automatic bread machine or food processor may be required for kneading.[12] Generally, higher gluten levels are associated with higher amounts of overall protein.[13]

Imitation meats[edit]

Gluten is often used in imitation meats (such as this mock "duck") to provide supplemental protein and variety in vegetarian diets.
For more details on the use of gluten in cooking, see Wheat gluten (food).

Gluten, especially wheat gluten, is often the basis for imitation meats resembling beef, chicken, duck (see mock duck), fish, and pork. When cooked in broth, gluten absorbs some of the surrounding liquid (including the flavor) and becomes firm to the bite.[14][15]

Other consumer products[edit]

Gluten is often present in beer and soy sauce, and can be used as a stabilizing agent in more unexpected food products, such as ice cream and ketchup. Foods of this kind may raise a problem for a small number of consumers because the hidden gluten constitutes a hazard for people with celiac disease.

Gluten is also used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.[16]

Animal feed[edit]

The protein content of some pet foods may also be enhanced by adding gluten.[17]

Adverse reactions[edit]

In individuals with coeliac disease (American English: celiac), consumption of gluten causes adverse health issues ranging from abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea, and vomiting to migraine headaches and joint pain. Coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder, affects the digestive process of the small intestine. In 2009, research showed between 0.5 and 1.0% of people in the US and UK are sensitive to gluten due to coeliac disease.[18][19][20] It probably occurs with comparable frequency among all wheat-eating populations in the world.[21] Coeliac disease has no cure, but is manageable with a gluten-free diet.

Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (gluten intolerance) is a condition arising from a syndrome of gastrointestinal responses to gluten different from the immune response characteristic of coeliac disease.[22] The global prevalence of gluten-related disorders is estimated to be 5%.[22] However, no scientific consensus exists to confirm gluten intolerance is a definable pathological condition, and the mechanism by which this could occur is unknown.[22] Frequently, symptoms arise in individuals as a result of undiagnosed coeliac disease or due to a reaction to other components of wheat,[22] such as short-chain, fermentable carbohydrates called FODMAPs.[23][24]

People can also experience adverse effects of wheat as result of a wheat allergy.[22] As with most allergies, a wheat allergy causes the immune system to abnormally respond to a component of wheat that it treats as a threatening foreign body. This immune response is often time-limited and does not cause lasting harm to body tissues.[25] Wheat allergy and coeliac disease are different disorders.[22][26]

No evidence suggests negative side effects occur with gluten consumption outside of the small percentage of the population having gluten sensitivity.[27][28]


International standards[edit]

The Codex Alimentarius international standards for food labelling has a standard relating to the labelling of products as "gluten-free". It only applies to foods that would normally contain gluten.[29]


By law in Brazil, all food products must display labels clearly indicating whether or not they contain gluten.[30]


One in 133 Canadians experiences adverse symptoms from gluten in celiac disease.[31] Labels for all food products sold in Canada must clearly identify the presence of gluten if it is present at a level greater than 20 parts per million.[32]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, only cereals must be labelled; labelling of other products is voluntary.[33]

United States[edit]

In the United States, gluten is not listed on labels unless added as a stand-alone ingredient. Wheat or other allergens are listed after the ingredient line. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has historically classified gluten as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). In August 2013, FDA issued a final rule, effective August 2014, that defined the term "gluten-free" for voluntary use in the labeling of foods as meaning that the amount of gluten contained in the food is below 20 parts per million.[34]


  1. ^ "Extracting Gluten from Flour". Chaos – it's not just a theory…. 20 June 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Wheat Starch and Wheat Gluten". GEA Westfalia Separator Group. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Wheat". GEA Barr-Rosin. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  4. ^ Woychick, JH; et al. "The Gluten Proteins and Deamidated Soluble Wheat Protein". Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  5. ^ Sahlstrom, S. & Brathen, E. (1997). "Effects of enzyme preparations for baking, mixing time and resting time on bread quality and bread staling". Food Chemistry, 58, 1, 75-80. Effects of wheat variety and processing conditions in experimental bread-baking studied by univariate and multivariate analysis.
  6. ^ Edwards, N. M.; Mulvaney, S. J.; Scanlon, M. G.; Dexter, J. E. (2003). "Role of gluten and its components in determining durum semolina dough viscoelastic properties". Cereal chemistry 80 (6): 755–763. doi:10.1094/CCHEM.2003.80.6.755. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  7. ^ Tosi, Paola; Masci, Stefania; Giovangrossi, Angela2; D'Ovidio, Renato; Bekes, Frank; Larroque, Oscar; Napier, Johnathan; Shewry, Peter (September 2005). "Modification of the Low Molecular Weight (LMW) Glutenin Composition of Transgenic Durum Wheat: Effects on Glutenin Polymer Size and Gluten Functionality". Molecular Breeding 16 (2): 113–126. doi:10.1007/s11032-005-5912-1. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  8. ^ a b "Baking Technology, Bread". Bakersassist. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  9. ^ "Farinograph". Wheat Quality and Carbohydrate Research. North Dakota State University. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Oliver, JR; Allen, HM (January 1992). "The prediction of bread baking performance using the farinograph and extensograph". Journal of Cereal Science (Elsevier) 15 (1): 79–89. doi:10.1016/S0733-5210(09)80058-1. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Amendola, J.; Rees, N.; & Lundberg, D. E. (2002). Understanding Baking. 
  12. ^ Eckhardt, L.W. & Butts, D.C. (1997). Rustic European Breads from your Bread Machine. 
  13. ^ "Against the Grain". The New Yorker. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  14. ^ Bates, Dorothy, R.; Wingate, Colby. 1993. "Cooking with Gluten and Seitan." Summertown, Tennessee: The Book Publishing Co. 128 p
  15. ^ Abramowski, Nicole (11 March 2011). "How to Make Seitan: An Illustrated Guide". Vegan Nom Noms. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Humbert P, Pelletier F, Dreno B, Puzenat E, Aubin F (2006). "Gluten intolerance and skin diseases". Eur J Dermatol 16 (1): 4–11. PMID 16436335. 
  17. ^ "Pet Foods". International Wheat Gluten Association. Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  18. ^ "Celiac Disease". National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House. National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  19. ^ "Celiac disease". Consensus Development Panel on Celiac Disease. National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  20. ^ "Coeliac Disease". What is coeliac disease?. Coeliac UK. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  21. ^ van Heel D, West J (2006). "Recent advances in coeliac disease". Gut 55 (7): 1037–46. doi:10.1136/gut.2005.075119. PMC 1856316. PMID 16766754. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f Elli L, et al. (2015). "Diagnosis of gluten related disorders: Celiac disease, wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity". World J Gastroenterol 21 (23): 7110–9. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i23.7110. PMID 26109797. 
  23. ^ Barclay E (22 May 2014). "Sensitive To Gluten? A Carb In Wheat May Be The Real Culprit". National Public Radio. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Biesiekierski JR, Peters SL, Newnham ED, Rosella O, Muir JG, Gibson PR (2013). "No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity After Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates". Gastroenterology 145 (2): 320–328.e3. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.04.051. PMID 23648697. 
  25. ^ "What’s the difference between celiac disease, gluten intolerance, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy?". The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  26. ^ "Food intolerance and coeliac disease" (PDF). Food Standards Agency. September 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  27. ^ "Going gluten-free just because? Here’s what you need to know" (html). Harvard Medical School. February 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  28. ^ Green PH, Lebwohl B, Greywoode R (2015). "Celiac disease". J Allergy Clin Immunol 135 (5): 1099–1106. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2015.01.044. PMID 25956012. 
  29. ^ "Codex Standard For "Gluten-Free Foods" CODEX STAN 118-1981" (PDF). Codex Alimentarius. February 22, 2006. 
  30. ^ "General labeling for Packaged Foods (free translation)". ANVISA. July 2014. 
  31. ^ "About celiac disease". Canadian Celiac Association. 2014. 
  32. ^ "Health Canada's Position on Gluten-Free Claims". Health Canada. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  33. ^ "Guidance Notes on the Food Labelling (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2004" (PDF). Food Standards Agency. November 2005. 
  34. ^ "Questions and Answers: Gluten-Free Food Labeling Final Rule". US Food and Drug Administration. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]