Our writer, Joann DiFabio-Klinkner is all about building awareness of what makes up the food we eat. Are you someone who accepts the unhealthy additives which go into the products we eat, or do you choose to read and understand the nutrition labels on these products? Joann educates us on ingredients and nutrition information so we can easily remember what is harmful to our bodies and what is not. What we eat can, in the short term, affect our mood and our energy, and in the longer term can have a major affect on our health. Over the next few months we’ve partnered with Mediterranean Snacks ® to join them on their mission to educate, engage and influence consumers to continue to make healthier choices when it comes to the foods and snacks they eat.
With the recent spike in awareness surrounding celiac disease and health benefits, wheat-free has become the latest health trend to influence traditional wheat-based products on the grocery store shelves. But, buyers beware! Not all wheat-free products are created equal.
Celiac disease is a disease that affects the digestive system. It’s basically an autoimmune disease, which means, that the body essentially attacks itself whenever gluten is consumed. When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye), the villi of their small intestines become damaged, reducing their ability to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to broader health issues such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer. While there are over 300 signs and symptoms of celiac disease, many people may have the disease and not even know it. For more information on celiac disease and a list of symptoms, visit www.celiaccentral.org.
Celiac disease is not the only reason people are going gluten-free. While many people are diagnosed with celiac disease, many others are simply gluten intolerant and experience similar symptoms when they ingest gluten. Also, thanks to the low-carb diet trend that took the world by storm years ago, gluten-free has become a preferred healthy lifestyle change for many health and weight-conscious people.
While there is a steady increase in the range of gluten-free products out there, not all gluten-free products are created equal. Some gluten-free products could actually be making us FATTER. When food manufacturers develop gluten-free options, they basically swap out the wheat flour for a gluten-free flour alternative, such as almond, rice, corn, or bean flour, all of which are completely healthy alternative flours. However, when these flours are substituted in products such as bread, pasta, and bakery items, it may be difficult for those products to retain their traditional soft shape and texture as they cook. This is when some food manufacturers might ruin a good thing and start to add certain additives such as xantham gum, cornstarch, carboxymethylcellulose, alginate, and carrageenan. Extra sugar and fat may also be added to improve taste, and now you have a gluten-free product that is more of a science experiment than a healthy alternative.
If you are thinking about going gluten-free, or if you just want to spruce up your eating habits a little bit, it’s recommended that you eat mostly fruits, veggies, legumes, lean meats, and some dairy. But let’s face it…we all need some convenience foods and yummy baked goods in our lives every now and then. The good news is that this is totally possible with all of the healthy snack options available today. There are lots of chip, cracker, and snack options available that are made from naturally gluten-free ingredients, such as pea, lentil, and bean flours. Some products have even gone above and beyond in the way of convenience and paired healthy snacks together for you, making healthy gluten-free snacking a total no-brainer.
For example, tapaz2goTM by Mediterranean Snacks ® is a gluten-free mini meal solution that combines a single serve pouch of Mediterranean Snacks Lentil Crackers with a substantial portion of wholesome hummus in a convenient, portable package. And each individual package contains 7 grams of protein and 250 calories or less per serving. Plus, no refrigeration required, so you can take it with you when you venture out in your day. Now that’s convenient AND healthy!
Take a look at Mediterranean Snacks as an example. All of Mediterranean Snacks, Baked Lentil Chips ® offer 22 chips per 1oz serving size and are calorically smart with only 110-130 calories per serving (depending on flavor).
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