Perhaps you have been wondering whether you should add gluten free products to your healthy diet, like this reader, Christina, recently asked:
“As far as I know no one in my family is allergic or even sensitive to gluten, but lately I’ve been trying some gluten-free things and am liking what I am making. Is there anything better about gluten free foods? Is it any healthier to eat more gluten-free items?”
Gluten Free foods seem to be sprouting up everywhere, but popularity doesn’t necessarily mean they are any healthier for you. The main goal of any diet should be to eat as little processed food as possible, whether it is gluten free or not. Gluten is the protein found in starches that gives bread it’s structure, and for some people, it absolutely cannot be tolerated. Many gluten free products are trying to replicate bread, crackers, tortillas and baking mixes that look and act like their traditional counterpart. To achieve this, they are often full of refined ingredients, stabilizers and gums. When choosing a food product, ask yourself:
- How many ingredients does this have?
- Is there added sugar and/or salt?
- How many grams of fiber and protein does it have?
Take for example, the ‘Tale of Two Tortillas':
Tortilla #1 is gluten free: has 3 g fiber, 2 g protein, 1 g sugar, 390 mg sodium and contains 16 ingredients.
Tortilla #2 is not gluten free: it contains 5g fiber, 4 g protein, no sugar, 190 mg sodium and 8 ingredients.
For the individual who is not gluten intolerant, tortilla #2, while it does contain gluten, is the healthier choice because it contains fewer ingredients, is higher in protein and fiber and has less sugar and salt.
I’d recommend taking a closer look at your new gluten free favorites and if they are minimally processed, continue to enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.
What is your experience with gluten free food? Do you feel better eating gluten free? Share your experience on my facebook page.
Have a great week! ~Chef Jenny