Do Gluten-Free Products Deserve their Health Halo?

by Alica Diehl

You may have noticed a new bit of infrastructure at your grocery store: an aisle dedicated to foods made without gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale that gives dough its structure and texture.

Sales of gluten-free products are expected to rise 62% between 2014 and 2017, reaching annual sales of $14.2 billion according to market research company Mintel.  

With less than 10 percent of the U.S. population afflicted by gluten-related disorders, this growth is partly fueled by the perception that consuming gluten-free products will lead to a thinner body or optimum health. 

That's unlikely, however, since many gluten-free products are full of refined sugar, unhealthy oils, and unnatural gums. One popular gluten-free bagel, for example, has 54 percent more calories, six times the fat, 38 percent more sodium, and 43 percent more sugar than a comparable variety that contains gluten. (Notably, the gluten-free bagel also places a 74 percent greater burden on your wallet.) 

While gluten itself isn’t vital to human life, whole grain products containing gluten are a major source of B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber for many Americans.  A gluten-free diet done right can certainly incorporate those vital nutrients, but done wrong, it risks nutrient deficiencies. 

If you want to be healthy, well-nourished and enjoy eating, a gluten-free lifestyle requires more than shunning bread and frequenting the gluten-free aisle. You need to be equipped with strategies for preparing meals and snacks that are good for you and delicious.  


Learn from the experts at our upcoming workshop, Going Gluten-Free without Going Crazy on October 14, from 6-8 pm.  This interactive class led by Rachel Druckenmiller, MS, will help you make sense of living as a healthy and  gluten-free eater. Her own trials and tribulations with gluten led her to become a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert, wellness coach, and food blogger.

In addition to enjoying Rachel's cooking demonstrations, you'll learn about adapting recipes, dining away from home, and which gluten-free products are worth buying (yes, there are some).

Our resident nutrition research scientist, Chris D’Adamo, PhD, will be there, too, offering his own suggestions for gluten-free eating and providing insight from recent research. 

You'll get to sample all the dishes Rachel makes that night and take home a guide of tips, suggested products, online resources, and recipes.