Gluten-free diets have soared in popularity in recent years, but according to a new study, the health benefits are overhyped.

Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health in Australia looked at 3,200 products across 10 food categories and determined that the removal of gluten neither made healthy foods more healthy, nor unhealthy foods less unhealthy.

Dr. Jason Wu, lead author of the study, found that there really isn't much nutritional difference between gluten-free products and their traditional counterparts.

"The foods can be significantly more expensive and are very trendy to eat, but we discovered a negligible difference when looking at their overall nutrition," said Wu.

Yet, as more celebrities tote gluten-free diets — meaning those diets free of wheat, rye and barley — as the best way to lose weight and cleanse the body, the number of people buying into the gluten-free fad has increased.

"There has been a tidal wave of gluten-free products coming onto the market in recent years and many people have been caught in the wash as they search for a healthier diet," Wu said.

Wu's study compared gluten and non-gluten products in core foods such as pasta and bread, those foods necessary for a balanced diet, with junk foods including potato chips and cookies.

"In the core foods we found significantly lower levels of protein in gluten-free foods, but the remaining content such as sugar and sodium was actually very similar," he said. "The same was the case in the discretionary foods, with almost no difference in their nutritional make-up."

Wu's comparison suggests that gluten and gluten-free foods are just as healthy, or unhealthy, as the other.

While some people really do need to live a gluten-free life, like those with celiac disease, most people going "G-free" are only doing so because of the apparent health benefits.

Even though only one in 133 people are diagnosed with celiac disease, totaling around 2 million people with the disease in the US, 24 percent of Americans say that either they, or someone in their household, eat some type of gluten-free product.

With this rapid expansion of gluten-free enthusiasts, retailers are starting to see gluten-free products as an opportunity for development.

In 2013, Mintel, which has the broadest definition of gluten-free products, calculated that the gluten-free market was worth an extraordinary $10.5 billion, although Mintel expected the number to rise by 48 percent, to $15.6 billion, in 2016. Mintel included every food with a gluten-free label, even those that are gluten-free naturally.

Wu, however, warned people to be wary about buying gluten-free products just for the so-called health benefits.

"Fancy labels on gluten-free foods have the potential to be used as a marketing tactic, even on products that traditionally don't have any gluten in them anyway," he said. "Misinterpretation by consumers, especially of junk foods, that gluten-free means they are healthy is a real concern."

Despite the fact that gluten-free foods — be they pizza, brownies or cookies — tend to be packed with as much flour, starch and sugar as their gluten counterparts, 35 percent of consumers say they buy non-gluten products because they are "generally healthier." Twenty-seven percent buy them "to manage my weight" and 21 percent buy them because they are "generally low carb." Only seven percent bought "G-free" products because they actually had celiac disease.

"Whole grains along with fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, while highly processed junk foods should be avoided," concluded Wu.