Friday, September 17, 2010
Gluten-free has gone big time, but why so popular?
09/16/2010 - Michael Hill - Associated Press
Gwyneth Paltrow gushes over gluten-free. Chelsea Clinton's wedding cake was baked without it. The new Old Spice guy avoids the ubiquitous protein to help stay buff. In fact, odds are good you too have tried — or at least encountered — a product with the gluten removed.
Because gluten-free is what low-carb was a decade ago: The "it" diet discussed on daytime talk shows, promoted by hyper-slim actresses and adopted by masses. Grocery aisles are stocked with the likes of gluten-free pasta, crackers, cereal and beer.
Americans are enthusiastically exiling a dietary staple that wasn't even in most people's vocabulary a decade ago.
Unlike some other dietary boogeymen like trans-fats, gluten is not inherently bad to eat. Only a small percentage of people can't tolerate the protein, which occurs naturally in wheat, barley and rye. Plus, banning gluten from your diet can be really hard.
Not only is gluten an essential element of traditional breads and pastas (it's the protein that gives them their structure), it often is used as a thickening agent in processed foods, such as ketchup and ice cream. And cutting out gluten is no guarantee of weight loss.