People usually start a gluten-free diet once they’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease—a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine when exposed to gluten. Others might have a gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy. But some people simply want to see whether or not ditching gluten affects their health in a positive way. As of 2014, 1.69 percent of the celiac-free American population maintained a gluten-free diet!
Going GF without being gluten sensitive has become a trend over the last several years, but a study out of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has shown an unhealthy link between dropping gluten and heart disease. Here’s what you need to know:
Your heart needs whole grains
The survey analyzed 100,000 participants with no history of coronary heart disease (64,714 women and 45,303 men) from 1986 to 2010, asking them to answer questions every four years.
“It appeared that those individuals who consumed the lowest levels of dietary gluten had a 15 percent higher risk of heart disease,” says study leader Andrew Chan, an associate professor at Harvard.
You might be wondering, how is that possible? For most folks, going GF means they’re skipping not-so-good white and refined grains! Leaving behind the pasta and doughnuts is a healthy choice—but gluten-free eaters are also missing out on the heart-healthy benefits of whole grains.
For people who need to be GF, please stay the course with your gluten-free diet. But anyone who hasn’t been diagnosed with celiac disease or doesn’t have a gluten-sensitivity might want to put heart-healthy whole grains back on the menu. Here’s a quick-start guide on how to cook with whole grains. Next, read about these foods with gluten that will surprise you.