It started as a diet for people issues with gluten. Then it became a popular trendy, fad diet – some would call it a lifestyle – with whole grocery store aisles dedicated to it. We’re talking about the gluten-free diet. According to a recent study, gluten-free foods marketed for children are not very healthy.
What Is a Gluten-Free Diet?
Gluten is a general name for naturally occurring proteins in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin, with gliadin being associated with most of the health problems of gluten, including celiac disease (CD) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes gluten, which as mentioned earlier, is present in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. There’s a controversy around the inclusion of oats in a gluten free diet.
Today, many people who have no issue with gluten have switched to a gluten-free diet, believing it to be healthy. This belief has led some parents to opt for a gluten-free diet for their children.
Gluten-Free Not Healthy?
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics, gluten-free snacks marketed for children may not be any much healthier than regular verities.
Researchers looked at the sugar, fat, and sodium content of 347 snacks marketed towards children. Some snacks were labeled “gluten-free” and others were regular. Junk foods such as chips, candy, and chocolate were excluded.
The researchers found that gluten-free foods had all the negatives of packaged foods, and no added benefits.
Moreover, gluten-free foods were found to be loaded with sugar. 88 percent of gluten-free snacks were found to have lower nutritional quality. Of the non-gluten-free snacks, 97 percent were had poor nutritional quality.
The problem, asserted one of the researchers, is NOT the gluten-free label per se. When gluten-free products were compared to similar items containing gluten, the nutritional content was found to be similarly poor.
Our opinion is that the manufacturers sacrificed nutritional value for flavor. After all, they’re children’s snacks and the best way to sell more of them is to make them taste good, right?
For people without problems associated with gluten consumption, they may be spending more (gluten-free food alternatives can be pricey) without getting additional health benefits.