Is 'Gluten-Free' Always the Healthier Choice?

Nutritionist Rachel Beller cautions that, while going gluten-free is a must for those with celiac disease, it's not necessarily the healthiest option.
4:09 | 06/25/14

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Transcript for Is 'Gluten-Free' Always the Healthier Choice?
And time to kick off the heat. And right off the top, one in three Americans are trying to avoid gluten. It's a multi-million dollar market. But now the health benefits are questioned. Reporter: Going gluten free is all the rage. Celebs like milely Cyrus, and others swearing it off. It's a $23 billion a year industry. Gluten free cookies, cupcakes and frozen dinners and beers. And products without gluten are being marketed as gluten free. It's a funny combination of health consciousness and fad dieting. Reporter: But is this gluten free craze a good way to go? This nutritionist cautions it's not for everyone. It's not necessarily healthy unless there's a medical reason. I find more carbohydrates, sugar, sodium, sometimes more fat and definitely most of the time less fiber. Reporter: She says that in some products eliminating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye means adding other greed yents that can lead to weight gain. Adding in sodium, sugar, sometimes fats, to build that product to taste the way people expect it to taste. Reporter: She says that to find out what's in your food, you need to look beyond the gluten-free label. We have a whole wheat pasta, and gluten-free, which one is the healthier option? If you don't have a medical condition, the best is the whole wheat pasta. It's more fiber. Reporter: While it's a must for those with celiac disease, for others, eating healthy and unprocessed foods is key. Replacing gluten-free junk food for junk food, at the end of the day, it's junk food. And Dr. Jen Ashton back with us. We heard a lot of good information. Do you understand why this is catching on? Yes, some forms the peer pressure don't disappear in seventh grade. Everyone is doing this. This is the latest thing. We started with fat-free, then sugar-free, then organic. Now it's gluten-free. For the people on the spectrum of celiac disease, gluten insensitivity, it's real, and can be helpful. We're talking about millions of people. For most of us who want to try a new trend and drop some pounds, not really necessary. And there can be some suboptimal aspect aspects. I had Italian yesterday, and it gave me whole wheat or gluten-free. I opted for the whole wheat. What's the difference between spaghetti and that? Were you tempted? I was. I have a label here. Compare a gluten-free spaghetti with a whole wheat form. It's six of one, half dozen of another. A little more carbs, less protein, fiber. For one meal, not a problem, but long-term, you can run into issues. Fiber makes you feel full. Yes. And I think you made the right choice, robin. You mention ed celiac. Who should try this? If you're on this spectrum, diagnosed and under the care of a physician. Take it one step further if you are going to consider doing this long-term. Registered nutritionist and dietitian, and make sure you're not lacking for the things you think you're getting. We talk about this every couple of weeks. I can't wait for the next one. Thank you, Jen. Also burning up the "Gma"

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