Difference between Gluten-free and Wheat-free

January 11, 2017 by Editorial Team

Gluten-free products have become increasingly popular these days. You do not even have to go specialty stores to find them as they are now readily available at supermarkets. However, if you look closely, you will find out that there are also products labeled “wheat-free.” Is this just another term for “gluten-free?” Are they interchangeable? If you are looking to adopt a gluten-free or wheat-free diet, or if you are simply curious what they mean, this article is for you.


Wheat-free products, as the name suggests, are products that do not contain wheat. Wheat is often contained in foods like pasta, cereal, and bread as well as products that contain bulgur, flour, Kamut, semolina, or wheat germ.

Wheat-free products were originally made for people who are allergic to wheat or to any of its components. For those who are allergic, ingestion of wheat may result in itching, swelling, difficulty in breathing, or even fainting. These days, however, the wheat-free diet is also being adopted by people who are trying to lose weight.

On the other hand, gluten-free products do not contain gluten. These products are free from wheat, barley, rye, Kamut, spelt, matzo, farina, malt, starch, couscous, and durum. All these contain gluten.

Gluten-free products were specially formulated for those who are suffering from Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, or gluten intolerance. For these people, eating foods that contain gluten may result in bloating, fatigue, headaches, or diarrhea. Nowadays, gluten-free products are also used by athletes and people who believe that the absence of gluten increases their strength and energy.

Gluten-free vs Wheat-free

What, then, is the difference between gluten-free and wheat-free?

As the names indicate, gluten-free products do not contain gluten, while wheat-free products do not contain wheat.

Gluten-free products are for people who have gluten-intolerance, Crohn’s Disease, and Celiac disease, while wheat-free products are for those who are allergic to wheat itself or its other components. It is important to note, however, that being allergic to wheat does not necessarily mean being allergic to gluten as well. People with a wheat allergy may still consume foods with gluten, but people who have gluten intolerance should avoid foods with wheat since all wheat contains gluten.

In conclusion, gluten-free means absolutely wheat-free, but wheat-free does not necessarily mean gluten-free since gluten can also be found in other ingredients. Examples of naturally wheat-free and gluten-free products are fruits, vegetables, rice, corn, legumes, fish, pork, poultry, and dairy products.

Comparison Chart

Does not contain gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, Kamut, spelt, matzo, farina, malt, starch, couscous, and durum)Does not contain wheat
Best for those who are suffering from Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease or gluten-intoleranceBest for people who are allergic to wheat itself or to its other components