The gluten-free diet is sometimes promoted as a way to lose weight or simply a “healthier” diet for the general population. However, these claims are unfounded. The gluten-free diet is healthier for people with gluten-related disorders, but there is no evidence that it is beneficial for people who do not have these conditions.
The presence or absence of gluten alone is not related to diet quality. Diet quality in general is dependent on broader food choices made within the diet, rather than whether or not it’s gluten-free. For instance, if an individual whose diet contains large amounts of breads, pastas, and cookies switches to a gluten-free diet which eliminates these foods, while increasing fruits, vegetables and other healthful gluten- free foods, then the resulting diet would likely be healthier.
On the other hand, this same person could substitute gluten-free breads, pastas and cookies into the diet without increasing their intake of produce and other healthy gluten-free foods and may actually experience a reduction in diet quality. This is because many gluten-free processed foods are lower in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than their gluten-containing counterparts, and may be higher in calories as well, as many processed gluten-free foods contain higher levels of fat and/or sugar to compensate for flavor and texture changes that result from the removal of gluten.
For more ways to be nutritiously gluten-free, download our Guide to Gluten-Free Living!