We've come to equate a gluten-free diet with a healthier approach to eating. Though the eating plan rose to popularity because of celiac disease, giving up gluten has become a health-minded habit popular among many without the allergy. Cutting out gluten from one's diet can help with inflammation even in non-celiac sufferers and goes hand in hand with the preoccupation with cutting carbs. However, a 26-year study published in British Medical Journal and highlighted by My Body+Soul finds that practicing a long-term gluten-free diet if you don't have celiac disease could be harming your health—namely, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Scientists from Harvard Medical School and Columbia University analyzed data from more than 110,000 male and female health professionals in the U.S. who had no history of coronary heart disease. What they found was that long-term gluten consumption was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease—the number one killer of women. On the contrary, the avoidance of gluten by those without celiac disease could result in a reduced intake of beneficial whole grains, which may increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
"Whole grain intake has been found to be inversely associated with coronary heart disease risk and cardiovascular mortality," the researchers write.
The takeaway? Unless you have celiac disease, completely cutting gluten isn't necessarily a healthy strategy. According to the study's scientists, "The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged."
Next up, discover three common health mistakes you probably don't know you're making.