Published online Nov 7, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i41.11825
Peer-review started: June 30, 2015
First decision: July 20, 2015
Revised: September 2, 2015
Accepted: September 15, 2015
Article in press: September 15, 2015
Published online: November 7, 2015
A gluten-free diet is currently the only effective means of treating individuals with celiac disease. Such a diet enables celiac patients to control their symptoms and avoid various complications associated with this condition. However, while the quality of gluten-free foods has significantly improved during recent decades, maintenance of a gluten-free diet does not necessarily ensure adequate nutritional intake. Because oats are an important source of proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and fibre, their inclusion in a gluten-free diet might improve the nutritional status of a celiac patient. Although oats are included in the list of gluten-free ingredients specified in European regulations, their safety when consumed by celiac patients remains debatable. Some studies claim that pure oats are safe for most celiac people, and contamination with other cereal sources is the main problem facing people with this disease. However, it is necessary to consider that oats include many varieties, containing various amino acid sequences and showing different immunoreactivities associated with toxic prolamins. As a result, several studies have shown that the immunogenicity of oats varies depending on the cultivar consumed. Thus, it is essential to thoroughly study the variety of oats used in a food ingredient before including it in a gluten-free diet.
Core tip: Symptoms of celiac disease are triggered by an abnormal reaction to gluten, and the only treatment for celiac disease is the patient’s adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. While inclusion of oats in a gluten-free diet might improve its overall nutritional value, their use in such diets remains controversial. This review summarizes recent advances made in understanding the nutritional properties of oats and their role in celiac disease.