Is honey gluten-free?

Honey in its natural form is 100% gluten-free. However, if you are following a gluten-free diet, and depending on your medical conditions, you might want to read through this article to find out if and what honey is safe for you.

a glass jar with honey and flowers

Honey is such a beautiful natural product. While this sweet liquid is mostly sugar, it also contains a high amount of nutrients. Honey is rich in potassium. Honey also contains vitamin B, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, and others, which are mainly derived from the soil and nectar‐producing plants.

By the way, darker honey provides more nutrients than pale honey. But don’t forget, only one spoon of honey contains 17 grams of sugar. So while honey is healthy gluten-free food and can be a part of a healthy daily diet, it should be enjoyed in moderation.

One of the great ways to use honey is in baking and cooking. My Banana and Peanut Butter Cookies are made with honey. And so is the Chinese Garlic Chicken which is cooked with honey and soy sauce. Delicious!

How is honey made

To understand if honey is safe for you or not we need to shortly have a look at how honey is made. Don’t worry, I am not going to bother you with a biology lesson. We only need to remember that honey is made by honey bees. And that bees collect nectar from the flowers.

honey bee on a yellow flower

Bees naturally do not pollinate wheat. Grasses like wheat are flowering plants and are wind pollinated. They do not produce colourful flowers to attract bees. And this is how natural honey is 100% gluten-free.

However, some bee farms are located very close to agricultural lands. Those lands might be growing wheat and some people believe that cross contamination is a small possibility. Even though it is minor. So if your sensitivity to gluten is severe, you might have to be a little bit more careful where your honey comes from. (Unfortunately, I could not find any scientific papers to support this statement and I couldn’t find anything to oppose it.)

The good news is that the bees only fly 5 kilometres from their hives. The raw honey from your local beekeepers is very unlikely to be contaminated with gluten because the bee hives are placed away from the big agricultural sites. Cross-contamination is simply not possible. This is why it is important to choose the best quality, local honey, you can afford. But the same goes for any food as we already know.

Contamination in mass production

While we now know that honey is gluten-free, there is a risk of cross-contamination of honey with gluten. How, you are wondering? This can happen if honey is processed in facilities that manufacture gluten-containing foods, such as salad dressings or honey mustard. These products can contain gluten-containing ingredients. To avoid any traces of gluten, consider buying honey from safe suppliers such as your local artisan beekeepers. This honey will also have a much higher nutritional value than honey from mass-production factories.

What is gluten?

The chances are you know everything there is to know about gluten, but if you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle and maybe just recently were diagnosed with celiac or developed gluten intolerance, you might have some questions about gluten. Let me just summarise the most important facts.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Gluten is what makes dough elastic and stretchy. This is why it is so hard to make sourdough, pastry or french croissants without wheat flour.

Wheat has been enjoyed by people for many centuries and is still safe for the majority of us. However in some people, and this number is growing rapidly, gluten can trigger a severe autoimmune response or other unpleasant symptoms.

An autoimmune response to gluten is called celiac disease. Celiac can damage the small intestine, causing digestive issues. Some people who don’t have celiac disease still seem to feel sick after eating foods that contain gluten (source). In my case, gluten is responsible for severe joint pain all over my body.

How to make sure the honey you buy is gluten-free?

If you are worried about contamination and want to be on the safe side, try to buy your honey from safe suppliers. Many brands choose to label their products with gluten-free labels, which makes it easier to shop with people with gluten-related disorders. Look out for certified gluten-free label on the products you buy.

How long does honey last?

While USDA recommends consuming honey within 12 months, the fact is that the honey doesn’t have an expiration date. Ever! Honey never spoils. It might change color and texture over time, get darker, and crystalize, but it still retains all its properties thanks to the high amount of antibacterial compounds. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

How to store honey?

Honey is easy to store. Simply keep it away from direct sunlight in an airtight container. A kitchen cabinet is a great storage place. You can keep your honey in the container you have purchased it in, or transfer it to a glass jar if the honey came in plastic packaging.

Some people like to refrigerate honey or even freeze it to avoid crystallization. The honey will get hard when cold. You can thaw it by putting the glass jar into the bowl with warm water to defrost it and bring it back to being liquid. Do not put it in very hot water, as the jar might crack.

Is honey vegan?

The short answer is no. Honey is not vegan. People who follow a vegan diet avoid all forms of animal exploitation and do not consume honey. However there are some vegans who occasionally consume honey, they call themselves beegan. Funny word, I know!

cup of tea with lemon and honey

The bottom line is that honey is gluten-free. But it doesn’t mean that you should consume it without limitation. Even though it is gluten-free it is still a mix of sugars, such as fructose and glucose.

A teaspoon of good quality honey a day shouldn’t be a problem. 😉

What is your favorite way to enjoy honey?

image with a question if honey is gluten-free

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