Is gluten-free healthier?
When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, an autoimmune response causes damage to the small intestine. As a result, the small intestine is unable to absorb nutrients. The only treatment for someone with celiac disease is to eat a gluten-free diet. So, in this case, yes, a gluten-free diet is definitely healthier.
However, it’s important to note that when gluten is removed from products (like bread, cookies, and cake), extra sugar and fat is often added to make it taste good. This is why dietitians recommend eating a diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Hyvee Dietitian Expert TipTraditional breads and cereals are enriched with nutrients, but many gluten-free alternatives are not. Choosing gluten-free whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or sorghum, is one way to ensure better nutrition when following a gluten-free diet.
What is Gluten Anyway?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives. This means durum, semolina, kamut, spelt, triticale, bran, couscous, graham, tabbouleh, malt, matzo, and regular oats should be avoided.
What About Oatmeal, Isn't It Gluten-Free?
Oatmeal is an inherently gluten-free grain. But cross-contamination between oats and wheat commonly occurs in the field or during processing. This is why some companies have taken precautions to avoid cross-contamination—these are the oats labeled as gluten-free.
Hyvee Dietitian Expert TipA small percent of the population can also react to gluten-free (GF) oats. Ask your physician or dietitian if you should be eating GF oats.
What Should I Look for on the Label?
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, look for products with a certified gluten-free label. Remember that Ingredients can be tricky, as there are many derivatives of gluten-containing grains. Never hesitate to contact a company or manufacturer if you are unsure, or simply ask your Hy-Vee store dietitian.
Hyvee Dietitian Expert TipMost unprocessed foods are naturally gluten-free, so fill up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and lean protein.
What Kind of Test Should I Have to Determine If I Should Eat Gluten-Free?
Certain blood tests and genetic tests can rule out celiac disease. Talk to your doctor before starting an elimination diet.