There had been a health trend lately for going “gluten-free.”  The belief is that eating foods containing the gluten protein is a way towards being healthier and improving diet.  However, research is showing that this may be a misplaced strategy, at least when it comes to heart health.

Dr. Andrew Chan of Harvard Medical School analyzed data from tens of thousands of health professionals:  45,000 men and 65,000 women who did not have heart disease.  These people completed a foods survey every four years between 1986-2010.  Using this information, they broke up the participants into five groups ranging between low-high for how much gluten they ate.  They then did some calculations to determine the chance of these people for having heart disease.  The researchers found that there was not much difference in rates of heart disease when comparing the low and high intake groups.

To further refine the study, the researchers honed in on study participants who ate processed grain products.  The results showed that those people who were in the low gluten consumption group had a 15% increased risk of developing heart disease.

Why is this?  For most people, eating a diet that includes whole grains (which does contain gluten) helps lower heart disease.  About 1% of Americans have celiac disease, where one is allergic to the gluten protein.  This causes several health problems, including:

  • Inflammation
  • Intestinal problems.
  • Increased risk of heart disease.

So for these people, as well as those who have gluten sensitivity, not eating foods containing the protein makes sense medically as it can cause a lot of damage.  Yet, for the majority of Americans, not eating whole grains may create more problems than it solves, especially when it comes to heart health.  Still, more research is needed regarding this issue.

Want to learn more about the research between gluten and heart health?  You can read the full article here:  Eating Gluten-Free Without A Medical Reason?