Gluten-free diet 'could raise heart attack risk'

Image Nikolas Moya  Flickr

People with celiac cannot tolerate gluten; when even trace amounts of the protein reach their digestive system, they experience severe cramping and bloating as well as acne and mood changes that can persist up to weeks on end. However, should the rest of us do the same?

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According to the American Heart Association, "Dietary fiber from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may help improve blood cholesterol levels, and lower risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and Type 2 diabetes".

For the 1 in 100 people who have coeliac disease, eating foods containing gluten triggers inflammation and damage to the gut lining.

"We chose to look at heart disease because it's a leading killer, and because it's generally understood that heart health can be affected by diet", said Dr. Lebwohl. For these individuals, gluten can still cause intestinal symptoms.

In spite of the rise in gluten restricted or gluten-free diets, there is no long-term research that has considered the relationship between a gluten diet and the risk of chronic heart conditions in non-celiac people.

The availability of Gluten-free bread is on the rise (excuse the pun), which is great for the one per cent of the population with coeliac disease - but not so beneficial for the rest of us.

Sales of gluten-free food have also risen by 50% in the last two years, hitting about £300million last year, according to Mintel research analysts.

People without celiac disease looking to ward off heart disease by nixing gluten from their diet won't have much luck as it may actually have the opposite effect, a new study suggests. Here's another: It could put you at increased risk of heart disease. At the beginning of the study, the participants did not have a history of CHD. Each participant filled out detailed diet questionnaires every four years, from 1986 to 2010.

After adjusting the results for influencing factors, they concluded there was no significant association between estimated gluten intake and the risk of developing heart disease.

People with celiac disease are at an increased risk of heart disease but, the researchers point out, that risk is reduced by their switching to a gluten-free diet.

The authors point out that their study is purely observational and therefore can not draw any conclusions as to cause and effect.

You heard the clever people: eat your gluten and your whole grains.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that there are droves of people adopting gluten-free diets regardless of whether they have celiac disease or not.

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