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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.
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.
Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams