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The real deal: With celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga praising gluten-free diets, it comes as no surprise that sales of products made without gluten -- a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye -- have nearly tripled since 2006. But unless you're one of the estimated 7 percent of people in the United States with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, there's no need to avoid the stuff.
"Wheat is packed with important nutrients, including folate," says Jessica Crandall, RD, a dietitian in Denver and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Few gluten-free breads, cereals, or pastas, meanwhile, are a good source of folate, a B vitamin. "Shun whole grains completely and you may even wind up gaining weight," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, the author of Read It Before You Eat It. That's because they boost the level of the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain, so if you skip them, chances are you'll feel unsatisfied and wind up snacking unnecessarily.