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Is Cocoa Powder Gluten-Free? Know the Facts for Chocolate Lovers Now!

is cocoa powder gluten-free

Cocoa powder is packed full of antioxidants and health-promoting flavanols, the stuff that makes our body, good, so we may wonder – Is cocoa powder gluten-free? Would improving my heart health mean having to put my gut health at risk? Before you generously add that delicious chocolate-like magical sprinkles to your morning beverage or baked brownies, it is important to know if cocoa powder is safe for people with gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. This article will also delve into what exactly cocoa powder is (nope, it’s not as simple as chocolate in powder form) and how it differs from chocolate. So, which exactly should you opt for if you are following a gluten-free diet?

What is Cocoa Powder?

Cocoa powder is what is left when the fat, or cocoa butter, is removed from cacao beans during processing. The leftover solids are then further grounded, and what is left is cocoa powder as we know it. For the end user – home bakers, cooks and pastry chefs – cocoa powder is simply a concentrated, low-fat, powdered version of unsweetened and unadulterated chocolate that is extremely versatile and used in a myriad of recipes.

Is Cocoa Powder Gluten-Free?

The answer to the question – is cocoa powder gluten-free? In the most natural state, there is only one ingredient in cocoa powder – unsweetened cacao. Hence, many gluten-free organisations and manufacturers recognise cocoa powder as naturally gluten-free.

What is Meant by Naturally Gluten-Free?

When a food is naturally gluten-free, it merely means that the product does not consist of any gluten-containing ingredient – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For those who are gluten insensitive, this understanding may be sufficient. However, for those who are gluten intolerant or are battling celiac disease, it is extremely crucial to ensure that there are almost no traces of gluten in the food, as a little of it can easily wreak havoc in the gut.

In many manufacturing and processing facilities, cocoa powder can be cross-contaminated with foods containing gluten. The best bet is to purchase a cocoa powder that has been certified gluten-free, giving you extra peace of mind.

There are some cocoa powder brands which have gluten-free certification, ensuring that you can use it with confidence. For example, Anthony’s Organic Cocoa Powder and Zeal Superfoods Organic Cacao Powder are both certified gluten-free, amongst many other brands. Although some of these products may only be purchased at independent retailers, but, it could be worth the extra effort for the additional assurance.

What about hot Chocolate mixes? Are they gluten free?

Not to be confused with cocoa powder, hot cocoa mixes are an entirely different story. Hot cocoa mixes are your go-to when you need a morning cup of hot chocolate to kick-start your dreary Monday morning. Supposedly what dreams are made of, hot cocoa mixes, when mixed with hot water or steamed hot milk, will provide you with a nice cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day, or, any day for that matter.

Hot cocoa or hot chocolate mixes are usually made of cocoa powder, with sugar, powdered milk, added flavourings, some added fillers, and even cute tiny marshmallows. But most well-known brands of hot-cocoa mixes are gluten-free, and here are some brands that you can explore for your next family party:

  • NOW Real Food Organic Hot CocoaThe NOW Food name is synonymous with quality groceries and supplements at an affordable price tag. The NOW Real Food Organic Hot Cocoa gives you that instant, rich chocolate taste, great for that rainy, lazy afternoon.
  •  Swiss Miss Non-Dairy Chocolate Flavoured Hot Cocoa MixA household name providing hot cocoa powder, this hot cocoa mix is gluten-free, sans the dairy. Equally irresistible, this is a must-have as a beverage staple in the kitchen.
  •  Pana Organic Hot ChocolateThis hot chocolate is slightly different from a hot cocoa mix, in that hot chocolate is usually thicker, more akin to that of melted, liquid chocolate gold. It has a deeper and richer flavour than hot cocoa, where the base is derived from hot cocoa powder. For those who have a major sweet tooth and need to satisfy this craving, Pana Organic Hot Chocolate is not only certified gluten-free but it is also certified organic.

See Also: Is Dextrose Gluten Free?

So, is chocolate gluten-free too?

In the purest sense, unsweetened chocolate is gluten-free. This is because pure chocolate is just a mixture of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Without any added sugar, this is bitter, far from the chocolate indulgence that is found on our supermarket shelves and not something that you’ll usually see in a trick-or-treat basket.

Most quality chocolate brands do produce chocolate with a few simple, quality ingredients. For example, Lindt Chocolatier has a range of gluten-free chocolate products, and their chocolate is mostly sweetened with pure sugar, a gluten-free ingredient. However, some confectionaries use wafers to alter the texture, or they could use barley malt as a sweetener. Some brands of chocolate may even have 10 to 15 ingredients, some of which may contain gluten. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully peruse the ingredients to ensure that it is safe for those pursuing a gluten-free diet.

See Also: Is Brown Sugar Gluten Free?

Conclusion: Is cocoa powder gluten free?

Cocoa powder, in its basic form, is gluten-free (hooray!). Hot cocoa or hot chocolate mix is generally gluten-free. Chocolate is supposed to be gluten-free. However, some of these products come in different variants. We seldom find pure, unsweetened cocoa or chocolate products on supermarket shelves because they are bitter and not what we are used to.

Therefore, what we usually find are cocoa and chocolate, mixed with a whole load of other stuff, some gluten-free, some not. It is up to us to check thoroughly the ingredient list, to make sure that it is safe to eat. But when in doubt, just make sure that you choose a product that is certified gluten-free – at least your next hot chocolate will not leave your tummy unsettled!

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