This oat section is under revision. For the updated Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Statement on Oats (May 2016), see Following a Gluten-Free Diet (pgs 11-14) under Celiac Center Patient Educational Materials.


  • Oats are considered a naturally gluten-free grain.
  • In most cases specially produced oats that are labeled gluten-free may be included in a gluten-free diet.
  • Producers of specially grown and processed labeled gluten-free oats include:
    • Avena Foods
    • GF Harvest
    • It is clear from evidence that up to 1/2 cup of uncooked, rolled gluten-free oats per day does not cause intestinal damage in most people with celiac disease.
    • You should limit your intake of gluten-free oats to about 1/2 cup of uncooked rolled oats or 1/4 cup of uncooked steel cut oats (~50 grams) a day. 1,2
    • However, if you are tolerating gluten-free oats well you may be able to discuss eating more than 1/2 cup per day under the supervision of your doctor.
  • Oats contain a lot of fiber. Add them to your diet gradually and drink plenty of water to help move the fiber through your digestive system.
  • A small number of people with celiac disease cannot eat oats.3 They may have an immune reaction to the protein in oats. It is unclear at this time what causes this reaction.
  • Before adding oats to your diet, make sure to get the okay from your doctor or dietitian. 1
  • If you experience any new symptoms after adding oats to your diet, stop eating them and call your doctor.
  • You should also consider having your celiac blood tests rechecked a few months after adding back gluten-free oats.

If you buy oats or products that contain oats, do you make sure the oats are specially produced labeled gluten-free?

  1. Yes. Each time I purchase a product with oats I read the label carefully to see that the oats themselves are also labeled gluten-free.
  2. No. I just check the front label for the words "gluten-free."

If you answered "No," please remember that manufacturers can use oats that have been contaminated with gluten. To be safe, look for products that are labeled gluten-free AND have made a point to also label their oat ingredients as gluten-free.



Thompson T. Oats and Wheat Starch. In Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten-Free . Eds. Dennis M, Leffler D. AGA Press. Bethesda, MD. 2010.

Thompson T. The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide. McGraw-Hill. New York, NY, 2008.


  1. Celiac Disease Toolkit. American Dietetic Association. Chicago, IL, 2011.
  2. Janatuinen EK, et al. A comparison of diets with and without oats in adults with celiac disease. N Engl J Med. 1995;333:1033-1037.
  3. Arentz-Hansen H, Fleckenstein B, Milberg O, et al. The molecular basis for oat intolerance in patients with celiac disease. PLoS Med. 2004;1(1):e1.

Revision Date: 8-29-12 
Author: Tricia Thompson, MS, RD 
Editors: Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN and Daniel Leffler, MD, MS

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