A research study published in British Medical Journal concluded that long-term gluten consumption is not associated with risk of coronary heart disease, but rather, a lack of gluten in the diet may affect cardiovascular risk. The study, co-authored by Celiac Disease Foundation Research Committee member, Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, and Celiac Disease Foundation Medical Advisory Board member, Peter H.R. Green, MD, and colleagues, determined that the gluten-free diet may result in decreased consumption of whole grains, which are associated with lower cardiovascular risk. Celiac Disease Foundation was quoted in this Gizmodo article about the finding.
Celiac disease is a serious, genetic, autoimmune disease where the ingestion of gluten causes damage to the small intestine; the only treatment for the disease is strict adherence to the gluten-free diet for life. In recent years, the gluten-free diet has become more of a fad than a medical necessity. There is a wide misconception that gluten-free foods are healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts. This study set out to determine if there are health benefits of a gluten-free diet in people without celiac disease. The study concluded that more gluten consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, suggesting that those who do not suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity should not avoid gluten.
More research is necessary to understand the potential for additional future health implications of the gluten-free diet in people without celiac disease or non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity.
Read the full study here.