Quick, tell me what gluten is. No Google peeking! What is gluten, exactly? Maybe that's an easy one for you, but when people were interviewed for the Jimmy Kimmel Live show, they came up with the most ridiculous responses, or non-responses, to that question I've ever heard. Holy dinner rolls, nobody has even the foggiest notion of what the stuff is! Apparently we have some severe misconceptions about Big G. Maybe it's time we cleared up some of the biggest myths about gluten. How much do you know?
First, gluten defined: Special proteins found in wheat and other grains. Gluten is what gives bread dough its elasticity, helps it rise, and gives it a chewy texture. Now for the myths.
1. Gluten and carbs are pretty much the same thing. Lots of foods that are high in carbohydrates (like potatoes) do not have gluten. The two terms are not interchangeable. You couldn't even say that gluten is a kind of carbohydrate. It's just that some foods high in carbohydrates are also high in gluten. But they are not the same thing.
2. All grains have gluten. Just wheat, barley, rye, and triticale have gluten. Amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, oats, and wild rice are gluten-free. You just have to be careful about how they're processed to make sure there hasn't been any cross-contamination.
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3. Gluten is bad for you. Nope. Unless you have celiac disease (which is rare) or have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten in moderation is not harmful.
4. Gluten makes you fat. It does not. Some of the foods that happen to have gluten could cause you to gain weight: Donuts, muffins, cake, and other empty-calorie foods. Cutting those out could help you drop pounds if you're also eating more nutrient-dense foods like fresh vegetables. But gluten itself does not make you fat, and going gluten-free won't necessarily help you drop pounds -- especially since many gluten-free foods are loaded with sugar and other crap.
5. A gluten-free diet is healthier. Again, this is true only if eating gluten makes your horribly ill. Everyone needs to eat a variety of foods that give you vitamins, minerals, protein, and slow-release energy. And we should all be avoiding junk food.
And now that we're all so well informed, let's all have a giggle at these people's expense, shall we?
How much did you know about gluten before you read this? Do you think most people are confused about gluten?
Image via Mitchenall/Flickr