gluten, flour, gluten-free, diet, allergy

GLUTEN ISN'T THE ENEMY

It can be a balanced part of a high-performer's diet for those who don't have an allergy.

While many athletes have an aversion to gluten, very few people truly need to avoid it for medical reasons: Only one percent of the population of North America is completely intolerant of gluten, a condition called celiac disease and just 10 percent have gluten sensitivities.

If you have been diagnosed with either, you’re, of course, better off eliminating it. But if you don’t have issues with gluten, consider the below points before giving it up.

Gluten is good for the heart.

Some research concludes that people who don’t have celiac disease but avoid gluten anyway might have an increased risk for developing heart disease.

Perhaps that’s because the proteins found in wheat have their heart health benefits: Gluten has been shown to lower blood pressure; and diets high in whole-grain cereals have also associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, according to research published in Nutrition Journal.

It contains important nutrients.

Cutting whole grains out of your diet means you’re missing out on minerals such as magnesium and copper and phytochemicals such as lignans and flavonoids, antioxidants thought to lower your risk for certain cancers.

Gluten also is rich in glutamine, an important amino acid. Wheat contains prebiotic fructans, which may improve GI health, says Brian St. Pierre, R.D., CSCS, director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition.

Packaged gluten-free foods aren't always healthier.

Gluten-free bread lacks the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that grain products made with wheat flour contain. Tapioca starch, a common ingredient in gluten-free products, is also pure starch with little nutritional value. Bread or cookies labeled gluten-free might also be higher in sugar than their gluten-containing counterparts.