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Most Gluten-free Products Fall Short on Nutrition

Celiac.com 08/28/2015 - Perhaps unsurprisingly, a study of over 3,200 supermarket products finds gluten-free foods aren't a healthier choice than their non gluten-free counterparts.

Photo: CC--Whatsername?If you have celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, gluten-free foods are necessary and beneficial, but the new study suggests that, nutritionally speaking, there's no evidence that they're any healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts.

The research looked at 3,200 food products on Australian grocery shelves, and found little or no nutritional difference between regular foods and comparable gluten-free items. Now, that doesn't make gluten-free products unhealthy, just no better than their gluten-containing equivalents.

But if you are not celiac or gluten-sensitive, then you're probably spending more money to get the same nutrition, and not getting any health benefits. Strangely, plenty of people seem to believe that sugary treats such as cakes are 'healthier' if they are gluten-free.

The study compared supermarket products in 10 categories: bread, breakfast cereal, dry pasta, cereal bars, cakes, sweet biscuits, ice cream, potato chips, processed meats, and candies.

The study team assessed foods using the Australian Government's Health Star Rating, which rates food by nutritional value. The rating system awards one star to the foods with the least nutritional value, and five stars to those with the most.

Basically, when they crunched the numbers using the Health Star Rating, the team found no significant difference between the ratings of gluten-free foods and their regular alternatives.

For me, though, the real takeaway is that there's a good amount of processed food out their, gluten-free or not, and you're likely healthier eating fresh, whole foods than anything processed.

Or, alternatively, it takes a bit of effort to maintain a healthy diet, whether you are gluten-free or not. Share your thoughts below.

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6 Responses:

 
Paul
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said this on
31 Aug 2015 10:10:42 AM PST
Very good info.

 
Jeff
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said this on
31 Aug 2015 10:12:23 AM PST
I don't see the relevance of comparing nutritional value between GF and regular food. To focus on health, you avoid junk foods like potato chips, whether or not they are GF. To avoid the side effects of gluten, including bloating, even for those who do not have celiac, you eat GF. The two have nothing to do with each other.

 
Rick
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said this on
31 Aug 2015 12:35:33 PM PST
BINGO, we have a winner!!!

 
Laura
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said this on
31 Aug 2015 4:40:51 PM PST
"Most gluten free food" includes all fruits and veggies, meats and fish, all, dairy products, beans, potatoes nuts and seeds. Anything processed is going to be somewhat short on the nutrition we need to be our healthiest, whether GF or not, but the most nutritious foods are still gluten free and they are still the vast majority of the foods out there.

 
Ed Epifani
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said this on
31 Aug 2015 7:27:05 PM PST
Thank you., thank you! GF food made from finely ground grains, especially baked goods ,are not nutritionally dense. They have a very low ANDI score, meaning few nutrients for the amount of calories. I love them, but they are my special occasion "junk food". Weddings, birthdays, funerals. It would be my own if I ate them all the time.

 
Busby
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said this on
01 Sep 2015 6:19:50 AM PST
I never buy what I consider junk food, anyway. The idea of stuffing my face with overly sweet empty calories never did appeal - even before celiac. Potato chips are an occasional treat, and processed boxes of food can never give me the flavor and texture that I get from freshly made food. BUT I am grateful that if I do need a substitute I know I have some choices. Perhaps the greatest strength of this article is that all packaged food needs to be more nutritionally acceptable.




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