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  • Ms Stephanie Koo

What is Gluten?

Ms Stephanie Koo, HK BioTek Nutritionist

Wheat flour is a key ingredient for bread, biscuits and cakes. Gluten is a protein found naturally in many grains such as wheat, barley and rye.

Gluten plays an important role in baking. When gluten protein is heated, it will form an elastic network. This structure can retain and stretch gas, so that foods such as bread and pasta can retain moisture and become soft. Gluten protein also has a binding effect, allowing the dough to maintain its shape, texture and elasticity. Therefore, gluten is often used as an additive to improve the texture and moistness of various processed foods. The use of flour with different gluten content can make full use of the unique physical properties of gluten. High-gluten flour can increase the smoky taste of noodles, and low-gluten flour is suitable for making soft foods, such as cakes and mooncake crusts.

Gluten-free diets are becoming increasingly popular, especially due to the growing awareness of celiac diseases, gluten allergies and sensitivity. According to the Centre of Food Safety in Hong Kong, gluten is one of the 8 substances that have been defined as causing 90% of food allergies. Estimated prevalence of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) could be high as 13% of the population. Meanwhile, from the research of HK BioTek, gluten had been ranked as Top 3 of the common food sensitivity cases. For people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, as gluten consumption may pose adverse reactions.

Fortunately, there are varieties of gluten-free products which can act as alternatives for gluten-containing products. There are more high-quality gluten-free foods and restaurants that can bring benefits to those on a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free diets become accessible and applicable.


  1. HKBIoTek. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

  2. Centre for food safety. (2017, May 23). Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

  3. What is gluten? Definition, foods, and side effects. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

  4. Aziz I, Hadjivassiliou M, Sanders DS. The spectrum of noncoeliac gluten sensitivity. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Epub ahead of print

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