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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Apr;33(4):781-791. doi: 10.1111/jgh.14039. Epub 2018 Feb 14.

Effect of the gluten-free diet on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with coeliac disease: A systematic review.

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Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.



A gluten-free diet (GFD), the mainstay of treatment for celiac disease, is being increasingly adopted by people without this condition. The long-term health effects of this diet, apart from its beneficial effect on enteropathy in celiac disease, are unclear. Concerns exist that the GFD may result in micronutrient deficiencies, increased exposure to toxins such as arsenic, and an increased cardiovascular risk. This systematic review addresses the effect of the GFD on several modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.


A systematic search of the literature addressing the GFD and blood pressure, glycaemia, body mass index, waist circumference, and serum lipids in patients before and after adoption of a GFD was conducted using the MEDLINE, EMBASE, PSYCInfo, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) databases. Two authors performed abstract and full text screening, and quality assessment.


A total of 5372 articles were identified, from which 27 were included. Lack of control groups in all but one study prevented meta-analysis of results. Overall study quality was low and restricted to patients with celiac disease. Consistent findings across studies included an increase in total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein, fasting glycaemia, and body mass index (while remaining within the healthy weight range). Significant changes in low density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and blood pressure were not consistently reported.


A GFD alters certain cardiovascular risk factors in patients with celiac disease, but the overall effect on cardiovascular risk is unclear. Further studies are warranted.


cardiovascular risk; celiac disease; functional disorders; gluten-free diet

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