Who is Buying Gluten-Free Products and Why?

gluten=free productA trip down the cookie aisle, with a stop in the baking, and in the pasta sections of your local supermarket and you will see a variety of newly added gluten-free products.

While it is great to see that children and adults with Celiac disease can now enjoy products usually made with wheat, it doesn’t explain the amount of new, gluten-free products now hitting our grocery shelves. Given that only about 1% of Americans have Celiac disease, we have to assume that a whole lot of people, that don’t need to buy gluten-free, are consuming these products.

Peter H.R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, told WebMD, “The market for gluten-free products is exploding. Why exactly we don’t know. Many people may just perceive that a gluten-free diet is healthier.”

For people with Celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential.  “Those who don’t have Celiac disease,” adds Dr. Green, “Need to be careful, as a  gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”

Before going gluten-free, know that doing so means giving up many common and nutritious foods. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten also shows up in many whole grain foods related to wheat, including bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt, and triticale.

While gluten doesn’t have special nutritional benefits, many whole grains that contain gluten are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber. Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

While there are a few whole grains don’t contain gluten, including amaranth, millet, and quinoa, they are far less common than gluten-containing grains and harder to find.

So, if you don’t need to be on a gluten-free diet, stick to your usual sources of whole grains to meet your dietary requirements.


WebMD Feature: Sept 2011

By Peter Jaret

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD


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