Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Get to Know Gluten

It's impossible to walk into a grocery store, turn on the television or open a magazine without seeing the latest buzz words "gluten-free." But what is gluten anyway? Ask yourself the following question: What is gluten? Gluten is a:

  1. Carbohydrate
  2. Fat
  3. Protein
  4. A & B

If you answered "C - protein," you are correct! But wait! Did you think gluten was a carbohydrate or a nutrient that will add pounds? As a nutrition expert, it's frustrating to see the media shine a negative spotlight on gluten, claiming it is harmful or will make us gain weight. Gluten is not harmful for the majority of the population; some people do have an allergy to gluten and need to stay away from it.

So we still haven't fully answered our question "what is gluten?" Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye as well as many other products including marinades, salad dressings and pickles! Products that contain gluten such as whole grain breads and cereals have many more nutrients and health benefits than gluten-free products! So if you are looking to be healthier overall or even slim down a bit-avoid gluten free and choose whole grain!

Curious as to how gluten-free products compare to their regular counterpart? Check out the nutrition information for a popular pizza chain, like Pizza Hut. You'll discover that the gluten-free pizza is higher in calories, total fat, sodium and total carbohydrates - all of which can lead to chronic diseases in the future if eaten in excess! Wow! This goes to show you that just because something is labeled "gluten-free" does not mean it is healthier!

Takeaway message - Aim for whole grains such as whole grain breads, pasta and rice, and limit enriched, processed foods as much as possible! Some people do have an allergy to gluten and should avoid it, but that is a very small percentage of the population. Talk to your Network Provider or a nutrition expert before entirely eliminating any specific nutrients from your diet.

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