Gluten-free food is necessary for people with celiac disease, but there's no denying the diet has become a trend. But here's some shocking news: a recent study by the George Institute for Global Health found hardly any difference between the nutritional value of gluten-free foods and standard products. Bread eaters, rejoice.
This one is for all the people who have hopped on the gluten-free train to be "healthier."
The Australian research team compared over 3,2000 core food-group options in both categories (like pasta, cereal, bread, sweet biscuits, and even potato chips). They found that although gluten-free foods contain less protein, they are pretty much identical in sugar, sodium, and other nutrient levels.
"Many products are now labelled as gluten-free, even amongst junk foods that are typically high in sugar, salt and saturated fat," lead study author, Jason Wu, told Mic. "Our results indicate that there is in fact little difference in the overall nutrition profile between gluten-free and non-gluten-free products across both core foods (e.g. bread and pasta), or junk foods (e.g. processed meats and cakes)."
Wu attributes this to a growing demand for "healthier" options at the grocery store, and people's willingness to believe that if it's labeled gluten-free, it's better for you. Research group Mintel reported that gluten-free product sales have risen 63% from 2012 to 2014 to $8.8 billion. Only about one percent of the population actually has celiac disease. So basically, fancy labels and marketing are tricking you.
Besides celiac sufferers, there is a growing population who claims to be "gluten intolerant": that the substance causes inflammation in their dietary tract. They eat gluten-free diets to avoid a host of symptoms. Some doctors even blame processed foods on gluten sensitivity. Of course, this is all debatable.
I say, do you. If you feel better after eating gluten-free, then great. And if you want to pay more for gluten-free products (and possibly eat just as unhealthy as a regular diet), then that's your prerogative.
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