Gluten free diet for health benefits?


A group of scientists from the US warn that people avoiding gluten who do not suffer with coeliac disease could be doing more harm to their cardiovascular health

“Concern has arisen in the medical community and lay public that gluten may increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and cardiovascular risk among healthy people,” they wrote in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Gluten free food popularity has soared in recent years, with the fitness community promoting the so-called health benefits associated with a gluten free diet.

And while a gluten free diet is without question the best medication for those who suffer with coeliac disease, the group of scientists advise that people who do not suffer with the disease should not be recommended this diet.

This is because gluten products rich in whole grains such as wheat, rye and barley are good for cardiovascular health because they help to lower blood cholesterol levels, linked to cardiovascular diseases. However those who avoid gluten food will no longer benefit from such advantages.

The team of 13 scientists from institutions including Harvard and Columbia University in New York said gluten-free diets “should not be recommended” to otherwise healthy people with the aim of preventing heart disease.

The study involved over 100,000 US participants who completed a detailed food questionnaire in 1986 every four years through to 2010.

Adjusting their results for known risk factors, they found no significant association between a gluten-free diet and risk of cardiovascular diseases, however the authors stress that reducing the intake of whole grains will prevent their known health benefits taking affect.

Author Andrew T Chan, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, warned that ‘promotion of gluten free diets for the purpose of coronary heart disease prevention among asymptomatic people without coeliac disease should not be recommended’.

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