Rice noodles are staple to East and Southeast Asian cuisines. They are available fresh, dried, or frozen, and in different shapes and thickness.
Rice noodles are made from water and rice flour. However, some manufacturers add other ingredients like corn starch or tapioca to improve its transparency and texture, making it chewier and gelatinous. Some people who are concerned about their health may wonder whether they are gluten free. Here is some information that may help clarify this matter for you.
Are Rice Noodles Gluten Free?
Rice and rice noodles are naturally free of gluten, making them safe choices for people who suffer from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Research shows that more than two million people in the US maybe suffering from celiac disease, but many are not aware of it.
Grains like wheat, barley, rye, and triticale contain a protein called gluten. People who have wheat allergy, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease react to the protein gluten with symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, fatigue, and bloating. In severe cases, it also leads to poor nutritionand weight loss.
Healthy Benefits of Rice Noodles
1. Macronutrient, Calorie and Sodium Content
Eating two ounces (oz.) of dried rice noodles will give you about 207 calories/serving. This serving size also contains 3.4 g of protein, 46 g of carbohydrates, less than 1 g dietary fiber, and a small amount of sugar. It also has more than 100 mg of sodium (salt) per serving. Are rice noodles gluten free? Yes, but when served with other ingredients, the protein gluten, carbohydrate, fat, salt and calorie content of the rice noodle dish will vary.
2. A Low-Fat Carb Choice
A 2-oz serving of rice noodles only has 0.3 grams fat. It is therefore naturally low in fat but it can make you feel full with every meal. However, the way you cook your rice noodles can greatly affect the dish’s fat content. If you use rice noodles for a stir-fry dish like Pad Thai, the fat content may increase significantly. So, keep the fat content low by using rice noodles in soup or steam it with fresh vegetables to limit the amount of fat.
3. Phosphorus in Rice Noodles
Rice noodles are rich in phosphorus. Phosphorus is next to calcium as most abundant mineral in the body. These two mineral work closely together to keep bones and teeth healthy. Phosphorus also helps filter out waste from your kidneys. It also helps process, store, and utilize energy. For adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for phosphorus is 700 mg. A 2-oz serving of rice noodles contains 87 mg of phosphorous, or over 12% of the RDA.
Other Gluten Free Asian Noodles
Are rice noodles gluten free? If you are worried about the gluten content of noodles, here are some of the gluten-free Asian noodles you can enjoy.
1. Acorn noodles – These Korean noodles (dotori guksu) are made from acorn flour and wheat or buckwheat flour. They are chewy, slightly sweet and nutty, so they are good for cold salads and may be used to replace soba.
2. Bean threads – Known as glass noodles, bean vermicelli, or cellophane noodles, these are thin, translucent noodles made from the starch of mung bean. They are common throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. Since they are almost flavorless, they may be used in a variety of dishes like soup,salads, stir fries, and rolls.
3. Buckwheat vermicelli – These Korean noodles (naeng myun) are made from buckwheat, arrowroot or sweet potato. These clear noodles are delightfully chewy, and are customarily served cold, like in mul naengmyun.
4. Kelp noodles – Another Korean noodle, this time made from seaweed(kelp). Look for these in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. They are clear, crunchy and relatively flavorless. They can be eaten raw as in salads, but you can also cook them in soups and stir fries.
5. Sweet potato vermicelli – These Korean noodles (dang myun) are made from sweet potato starch. They are chewy and glassy, with little flavor on their own. However, they tend to pick up the seasonings when stir fried (like Korean chap chae) or used in soup.
6. Harusame – These are Japanese noodles that are made from mung bean starch, sweet potato, potato, or rice. Are rice noodles gluten free? For Harusame, yes and they are thin, translucent, and can be used in preparations where bean threads are used, such as salads.
7. Shirataki – Also known as konnyaku noodles, these rubbery Japanese noodles are made of starch from a tuber called devil’s tongue or konjac, and sometimes also tofu. They can be eaten raw, as long as you rinse them. Boiling also helps counteract the fishy odor of the noodles, which may be an acquired taste for many consumers.
8. Soba – These Japanese noodles are made of buckwheat flour. They are sometimes flavored with mugwort, seaweed, orgreen tea. Wheat flour may be added, so check the list of ingredients. Soba noodles have aslippery texture and nutty flavor and are used in either hot or cold dishes.
9. Tapioca noodles – These translucent noodles are from Southeast Asia and are made of tapioca starch. These chewy noodles are great for soups (like Vietnamese Hu Tieu Nam Vang), or for stir fries.
10. Soy bean curd or tofu noodles – These Chinese “noodles” are made of pressed tofu. They are sold dried or refrigerated and have a nice texture. They can be used in soups, salads, or stir fries.
Note: Are rice noodles gluten free? Yes, they are, but some noodles may contain wheat flour, which contains gluten, so if you are on a strict gluten-free diet, check out the ingredients before buying and cooking.