Going gluten-free if you’re not allergic to gluten
Gluten, found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye, has gotten a bad rap lately, and some people think it’s healthier to go without it. But in reality, the opposite might be true. “Unless you are truly allergic or intolerant to gluten, there is no need to avoid it,” Palinski-Wade says. A study from Spain actually showed that going gluten-free led to reduced gut bacteria, which affects immune function. Another study from the University of Illinois also found that people who were gluten-free had higher levels of arsenic, probably because they tend to eat a lot of rice. In addition, “some people promote gluten-free diets as a way to reduce body weight, however gluten-free foods may actually promote weight gain if you are not careful [because they are often packed with calories],” Palinski-Wade says. “If you do opt for gluten-free foods, choose options made with whole grains to prevent a reduced fiber intake.” These 8 old wive’s tales about food are actually true(ish).
Eating “whole grain” or “multigrain”
Speaking of eating whole grains, one mistake you might be making at the grocery store is not reading the labels properly on breads and also foods make with them. “If a product is just labeled whole grain or multi-grain, there may be some whole grains in the food, but the entire food is not necessarily 100-percent whole grain,” Palinski-Wade says. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 100-percent whole grains can lower your risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. But although it sounds healthy, “multigrain” really just means a blend of grains, which can be refined or whole—so that label doesn’t really mean it’s a healthy food. “Look at the ingredient list to identify how much of the food is truly made from whole grains—If a product is labeled 100-percent whole grain, then you know,” Palinski-Wade says.
Drinking almond or other “milks”
Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with alternative milks, they might not give you the nutrients you think you’re getting. “Almond milk is not a good source of protein—it contains only two grams of protein per serving compared to eight grams in cow’s milk,” Gandhi says. Although you think of nuts as high in protein, the “milk” is mostly water, so the nutrients get lost. And be careful if you’re replacing cow’s milk for babies—a study from France showed that this can result in nutritional deficiencies. The dairy industry has even launched a campaign to prevent almond and other plant-based milks from being called “milk” so that consumers won’t think they’re nutritionally similar. But if you do choose to go with a plant-based milk, choose unsweetened. “Check to make sure you aren’t buying the sweetened version with added sugars or sweeteners,” Gandhi says. Find out the dairy myths and facts you need to know,