Have you just grabbed a gluten-free pasta that is high in salicylates?
Updated: Jun 4, 2021
When on the FAILSAFE or RPAH elimination diet, make sure you don't grab a gluten-free pasta that is high in salicylates and glutamates by accident. Many have done just this.
Finding a gluten free pasta while on the elimination diet should be easy but it is made complicated by one ingredient: corn.
If you can tolerate wheat, regular pasta is an easy choice as it usually only contains wheat and water. Most regular wheat pasta will be suitable.
However, corn (= maize) is used extensively in the major brands of gluten-free pasta. So this should be easy- just avoid corn or corn flour as an ingredient. It should be this easy but it is not.
As a quick wrap: The RPAH (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) elimination diet reduces naturally occurring food chemicals (salicylates, amines, glutamates) as well as problematic food additives to help prevent related symptoms. The FAILSAFE diet is a diet by Sue Dengate which mirrors the strict level of the RPAH elimination diet.
Pasta (GF) and Corn flour
Many gluten-free pastas have corn flour (= maize flour) as the main ingredient or part of the gluten-free flour mix. Corn/maize flour is high in salicylates and glutamates.
Always read the ingredient list carefully and avoid if there is corn flour (or maize flour) listed.
However, if there is corn starch (or maize starch) it is ok as the starch is processed to the point where the salicylates and glutamates have been removed. So if the ingredient list includes corn starch or maize starch, it is acceptable (unless there is corn allergy).
The only problem is sometimes corn starch is written as cornflour (one word). This usually means means the starch (which is ok). But not always.
Every now and then corn flour (as in maize flour) is actually written as cornflour (one word) which would indicate to the consumer that it is the corn starch but in fact it is not.
This Coles gluten-free pasta has only one ingredient: cornflour. Is it corn flour or corn starch?
The fact that it is written as one word would indicate it is corn starch
The yellow look of the pasta indicates strongly that it is the corn flour (as the less processed corn flour is more yellow like the colour of corn and more processed corn starch is more white in colour)
As it turns out the gluten-free spaghetti is made from corn flour and not corn starch so is high in salicylates and glutamates.
This product has been grabbed mistakenly by many people. The fact that it is very yellow should arouse suspicion, despite how it is written.
Pasta (GF) and Corn Starch (maize starch)
Gluten-free pasta can also be made from corn starch (= maize starch).
This commonly available gluten-free pasta is a suitable choice as it is made from the corn starch (= maize starch) so the salicylates and glutamates have been removed.
Additional notes: contains soy so if strictly avoiding soy flour, avoid.
Gluten-Free Pastas useful for the low Chemical Diet
It is important to specifically seek out the gluten-free pastas that are made only from gluten-free grains that are do not contain corn flour (= maize flour).
The following ingredients are acceptable, and commonly used:
rice (can be made by 100% rice or rice mixed with another GF grain such as millet)
buckwheat (can commonly get 100% buckwheat pasta)
legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or beans
Maize or corn starch
Sometimes a mixture of these eg millet + rice or quinoa + rice
Be very careful: some gluten-free pastas are made from a mixture of the above but may also include corn /maize flour. Always read the ingredient list!!!!
Low salicylate GF pasta brands readily available:
RICE PASTA (GF)
Many gluten-free pastas are made also from rice. Some find rice pasta a bit sticky; needs to be eaten freshly cooked for best results and not overcooked.
More easily found rice pasta include: such as ALDI rice pasta and San Remo 100% organic brown rice pasta.
Other specialised rice pasta may be stocked by health food shops or some independent grocers such as Orgran rice based pastas (careful- some have corn or maize flour in the mix!) and CeresOrganics rice pasta just to name a couple.
BUCKWHEAT PASTA (100%) (GF)
Usually easily sourced from major supermarkets in the health food section. Tend to be made from 100% buckwheat rather than a mixture of gluten-free flours. Buckwheat is one of the few gluten free grains that can be used on its own rather than mixed with another gluten-free grain. For example buckwheat flour can be used on its own to make pikelets or pancakes.
LEGUME PASTA (GF)
Legume based pasta is pasta made from legumes or pulses such as lentil pasta.
San Remo Pulse pasta (chickpea or red lentils or both mixed with beans) is available in most Australian large supermarkets in the normal pasta section. This pasta is very well received, although obviously avoid if sensitive to FODMAPs! Note: chickpea pasta is tolerated for low FODMAP for 1 cup.
What about SPELT pasta?
Spelt pasta is made from wheat so contains gluten. Spelt is an ancient wheat grain and many people who do not tolerate wheat may find they do in fact tolerate spelt.
A readily available spelt pasta in Australian supermarkets is the San Remo spelt pasta.
Pasta Toppers/ Sauce
Finding pasta toppers is somewhat thwarted by tomato being eliminated due to very high levels of salicylates, amines and glutamates. Many sensitive people report reactions to tomato.
A common topper to use is a spaghetti Bolognese, using leeks instead of onion, chives for flavouring, add tinned lentils, low salicylate vegetables such as grated choko/swede, celery, limited garlic, and of course fresh red minced meat.
Fry vegetables first to get some browning and taste before adding the meat.
Make sure mince meat is not over browned: lightly fry then add some water or left over home made stock (made from low chemical vegetables) to reduce browning for the remainder of the cooking time.
If dairy tolerated: can use additive free cream cheese, mix through Bolognese.
If dairy-free: make a roux from tolerated milk, Nuttelex Original and tapioca starch for
a creamy non cheese sauce and mix through.
Low FODMAP notes:
- 1/2 cup tinned drained and rinsed lentils = low FODMAPs
- Leek: green tips instead of stalk
- Garlic: omit or make own garlic infused oil with tolerated oil
- Celery: limit to 5 cm stick per serve
- Choko: 1/2 cup per serve is low FODMAP (can easily increase to high FODMAPs for 1 cup)
Enjoy your pasta meal, and avoid the trap of accidentally choosing a gluten-free pasta that is made from corn or maize flour.
RPAH elimination diet handbook: with food and shopping guide. Anne Swain, Velencia Soutter, Robert Loblay, 2011 (revised edition).
Monash University low FODMAP app. Version 2.0.12. Accessed 1/09/2018.