Eating “gluten-free” when there’s no medical need to do so won’t boost your heart health — and might even harm it, a new study warns.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. People with celiac disease — less than 1 percent of the U.S. population — have an immune system reaction when they eat gluten, triggering inflammation and intestinal damage.

Gluten-free diets have soared in popularity in recent years. And there is a real benefit to eliminating gluten if you have tested positive for celiac disease. There can be true suffering involved if a celiac ingests food that contains gluten.

However, there’s a lot of misinformation and incorrect assumptions that a gluten-free diet equals a healthier diet. There is no evidence that a gluten-free diet has any benefit to a non-celiac. In fact, it could even do more harm than good.

Eating gluten-free may mean consuming a diet lacking heart-healthy whole grains, according to the quarter-century study.

“For the vast majority of people who can tolerate it, restricting gluten to improve your overall health is likely not to be a beneficial strategy,” said study leader Dr. Andrew Chan.

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