A New Study Says Eating A Gluten-Free Diet Is Bad For Your Heart

Vegan Nine Grain Whole Wheat Bread
Flickr | Veganbaking.net

The gluten-free movement is not going anywhere anytime soon.

The industry is worth more than $10 billion dollars, with celebrities like Miley Cyrus endorsing gluten-free living and eating regimes like the Paleo Diet and Whole30 describing gluten with such vitriol it might as well be radium. But science says unless you actually have celiac disease (or a gluten allergy), your health will suffer if you skip it.

First things first: Only about 1 percent of Americans actually have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten that can lead to gastrointestinal and joint issues. But, despite the relative infrequency of actual gluten-processing disorders, the gluten-free diet is “the most popular in Hollywood,” according to Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, who has led highly regarded gluten research.

Flickr | Andrea_Nguyen

And now a study says cutting gluten from your life could be bad news for your heart health. The massive study followed 100,000 people from 1986 to 2010. The participants had no history of heart disease, and were asked to fill out food questionnaires every four years.

When scientists analyzed their health based on gluten intake, no “significant” link between eating gluten and risk of heart disease appeared. But when the team analyzed the data from the perspective of refined grains, the findings were completely different.

“It appeared that those individuals who consumed the lowest levels of dietary gluten had a 15 percent higher risk of heart disease,” study leader Andrew Chan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told CBS.

freshly baked ciabatta bread on wooden cutting board

Basically, the study says that removing gluten from your diet can spell heart problems later in life. This is because whole grains that contain gluten like barley, wheat and rye are full of healthy dietary fiber that is good for your heart.

“The avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk,” the study authors write in BMJ. “The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.”

But what if you really do have celiac disease? Are you doomed? Definitely not, researchers say. Just make sure your diet is rich in gluten-free sources of dietary fiber. Quinoa, oats and brown rice are three excellent options to make sure you—and your heart—are healthy.

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About the Author
Jessica Suss
Current high-school English teacher, native Chicagoan, and nut butter enthusiast moonlighting as a writer.

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