Lately there appears to be an onslaught of products in the grocery store that boast ‘gluten-free.’
And for folks who suffer from a gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease, this can be helpful, but what about the rest of us?
According to Lindsay Malone, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, unnecessarily restricting whole grains that contain gluten can mean missing out on the good things that these foods have to offer.
“Many foods that contain gluten- wheat, barley, rye – are found in soups and whole grain breads and these things do have value,” said Malone. “They’re contributing fiber, they are contributing vitamins and minerals and they can be healthy for you.”
A recent study noted that avoidance of gluten may result in reducing the amount of whole grains in the diet, which could put a person at an increased risk for heart disease.
Malone said it’s important for everyone to remember that eating more “refined” grains, like white bread and white pasta is less healthy, regardless of whether they’re trying to avoid gluten.
She said too many refined grains can cause a spike in blood sugar as well as a rise in insulin.
For those who want to eat as healthy as they can, Malone said it’s best to focus on eating whole, minimally processed foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
She said it’s also important to steer clear of clever marketing on food packaging.
“When you’re at the grocery store, rather than looking at processed food labels that sort of scream out, ‘hey-I’m healthy,’ really try and look for the foods that are fresh, whole, brightly colored and minimally processed – you really can’t go wrong,” said Malone.
Before jumping into any sort of diet ‘fad,’ Malone said it’s a good idea to talk with a medical professional to learn what the research says about that diet and whether it is meaningful to you and your health.