Eating “gluten-free” when there’s no medical need to do so won’t boost your heart health – and might even harm it, a new study warns.
For those with coeliac disease, gluten triggers a reaction in the gut that prevents the absorption of nutrients, causing painful symptoms including bloating, diarrhoea and nausea.
However, for those who do NOT suffer from coeliac disease, having no gluten may result in a low intake of whole grains, which are associated with cardiovascular benefits, according to the study published in The British Medical Journal today.
Dr Chan studied more than 100,000 people for over 26 years, and has just published the results of his findings. The research found that, when looking at the difference in gluten intake from whole grains, those who ate the most gluten had a 15% lower risk of heart attacks.
“Gluten-free seems to be equated with a healthy diet and that’s not always the case. The diet may actually in some cases be less healthy.”
Unrefined grains like wheat and barley protect the heart by regulating blood sugar and calorie intake, and promoting healthy gastrointestinal bacteria.
Researchers say the promotion of gluten-free diets among people without coeliac disease should be discouraged.