It’s easy to get confused.
We’re living in a world where we are bombarded with new health advice on the hour, but according to new research released this morning, jumping on board a health trend could be doing you more harm than good.
According to a report by safefood, the public body responsible for raising consumer awareness of food safety in Ireland, a misperception of the health benefits of gluten-free products could be leading shoppers down the wrong path.
Basically; if you’re not intolerant to grains such as barley and rye, you might want to reconsider that gluten-free cookie.
‘As much sugar as a chocolate bar’
More than one in five people surveyed by safefood (23%) thought that gluten-free products were lower in fat. At least 21% thought gluten-free products were lower in sugar and 19% considered a gluten-free diet was a healthy way to lose weight.
In fact, of all 67 gluten-free snack products surveyed, 75% were high in fat and 69% were high in sugar, with calorie levels similar to a standard chocolate bar.
Even worse, the survey of 2,000 people found that while more than one in five surveyed buy gluten-free foods, 92% of those people did not have a gluten-related disorder or had not been medically diagnosed with coeliac disease.
“We know from our survey that 92% of people buying these products do not have a gluten-related disorder or have not been diagnosed with coeliac disease and therefore have no medical reason to avoid gluten in their diet,” says Dr Catherine Conlon, Director of Human Health & Nutrition, safefood.
“There is no consistent evidence that a gluten-free diet will improve your health if you aren’t sensitive to gluten. Many of the gluten-free snacks we surveyed are high in fat and sugar like other treat foods.”
According to industry estimates, the gluten-free food market in Ireland was worth €66 million in 2017, an increase of 33% on the previous year.
The takeaway? Just because a gluten-free food is promoted by a celeb or sports star as a ‘clean’ option, doesn’t mean it will help you tidy up your diet in the long term.