Gluten-free bread products: Healthier or not?

Gluten-free bread products have become quite popular across the nation, with their gluten-free brands creating an array of terrific gluten-free pastries, baked goods, breads and more.

But could gluten-free bread be healthier? A 2015 study in the British Journal of Nutrition reported that gluten-free bread “is associated with a decrease in carbohydrate consumption (mainly bread), and a relative increase in total dietary fiber and fibre uptake/loss.”

Corn flakes, sandwich bread and cheese bread are all commonly sold as gluten-free and included on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of so-called “healthy” snacks.

However, “One study looked at people who were diagnosed with celiac disease,” said Sharon Patterson, a registered dietitian at the District’s Medical Compass health care network. And, these “have some valid concerns,” she added.

Patterson worries that gluten-free products are not specifically targeted to the special dietary needs of people with celiac disease, or those who are gluten-sensitive.

“We don’t know that a gluten-free item is safe for people who can’t tolerate gluten because it’s a source of nutrients, like vitamins, iron and zinc. We’re not sure how much there is in gluten-free bread,” Patterson said.

In addition, a 2017 study in the International Journal of Food Research reported that during a gluten-free diet, “substance abnormalities” associated with gastrointestinal symptoms – such as diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating – are “markedly higher” in those with a weaker immune system than for those with higher immune function.

Gingerbread: Gluten-free or not?

Gluten-free gingersnaps look great, and they don’t require heating or baking. They also cost a few cents more than regular gingersnaps, making them a great way to for the whole family to make homemade goodies during the holidays. But sometimes they can make your meal feel a little bland and bland and can be a huge money drain if you don’t have an artisanal bakery nearby.

Food blogger Galen Brown has a blog that highlights gluten-free recipes and a book she published last year. “There is a considerable amount of research out there, but not enough” is known, Brown said. “Celiac is a gluten-free condition, but don’t confuse it with the wheat allergy.”

When gluten-free ingredients are swapped into place to make bread, “you lose whole grains, and texture is crucial when making bread,” Brown said. “It is important that the flour count is one or two grains. A flour-based dough is less gluten-free than whole wheat bread.”

Gluten-free recipes don’t just mean wheat. Some bread makers compound baked goods with corn, millet, oats and sesame seeds, which can make both gluten-free and regular breads “more texturey and give a more nutty flavour,” Brown said.

The trick, however, is to avoid snacking on gluten-free items, because snack foods can become quite high in sugar and carbohydrates, Patterson said. “People are not going to get better health from gluten-free. They are going to get a lot less.”

According to food companies, gluten-free baking and snack doughs are becoming so common that Kellogg’s has partnered with BluePrint Baking Company to make BluePrint Insanely Gluten-Free Kitchen Kit, which contains several BluePrint bowls and was intended for baking, although it comes with bowls and refrigerators with ready-to-go gluten-free meal kits, along with whole-grain crust and crackers and cheese packs.

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