Gluten-Free Foods Generally Less Healthy

A child holding a cookie. If that cookie is gluten free, it could mean she's getting too much fat and sugar while miss out on the protein her body needs.

Children are especially vulnerable to the lack of nutritional that so many gluten-free foods offer.

A new study presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition finds that gluten-free foods are generally less nourishing than their gluten-containing counterparts.

The researchers behind this study say that they looked at the nutrition of 654 gluten-free food products and then compared those food items to 655 foods with the gluten component intact. What the scientists say they found is summed up in 3 bullet points:

  • Gluten-free breads tend to have much more fat in them.
  • Gluten-free pastas tended to have much less protein in them.
  • Gluten-free biscuits had much less protein and much more fat.

This news will likely not surprise anyone who has attempted to adopt a gluten-free diet, whether by choice or necessity. Here in the U.S., sodium is another nutrient that can often run rampage in special needs foods like gluten-free breads, pastas and cereals.

But the scientists behind this study are worried about something else–the effect of that lowered nutrition on the growing bodies of children. Many well-meaning parents may not realize that the sandwich bread their children have for lunch, for example, may have too much fat and not enough protein.

The study’s lead author urges parents to carefully examine food labels. “This is especially important for children,” he said in a press release about the study, “as a well-balanced diet is essential to healthy growth and development.”




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