Ever felt the pang of guilt when tucking into your sweet brioche bun in front of your gluten-free friends? Or looked at your steaming bowl of al-dente pasta and wondered ‘should I be doing this?’ Well worry no more because new research has debunked the myth that has associated gluten-free with the ‘healthier’ option.
This research by no means relates to people with gluten intolerances or coeliac disease, as their relationships with gluten are separate from those avoiding it for the apparent ‘health benefits’.
In a recent study at the George Institute for Global Health, scientists have found no evidence to suggest that the nutritional value of eating gluten-free foods differs from those containing gluten. In fact, most gluten-free foods in the ‘core areas’ of bread and pasta have lower levels of protein than their counterparts.
“In the core foods we found significantly lower levels of protein in gluten-free foods, but the remaining content such as sugar and sodium was actually very similar,” Said Dr Wu, lead author of the study.
“The same was the case in the discretionary foods, with almost no difference in their nutritional make-up”.
The study is the largest of its kind in Australia, looking at more than 3,200 products across ten food categories.
Whilst gluten-free foods are necessary for people with coeliac disease, information regarding the nutritional value of these foods is important for public awareness.
“Misinterpretation by consumers, especially of junk foods, that gluten-free means they are healthy is a real concern.
Whole grains along with fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, while highly processed junk foods should be avoided.”
Dr Wu and his team are working towards debunking myths that help to market certain products as ‘healthy’ to unsuspecting consumers. “Fancy labels on gluten-free foods have the potential to be used as a marketing tactic, even on products that traditionally don’t have any gluten in them anyway,” he said.