Eating quinoa every day may help prevent type 2 diabetes, research suggests.
Spanish experts tested the effects of the ‘superfood’ by recruiting nine over-65s who had pre-diabetes.
Pre-diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet at the level formally diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
Volunteers were given meals three times a day that swapped potatoes, rice or legumes for quinoa grains.
At the same time, they were given foods made with quinoa flour, including pasta, cake, bread, and crackers.
Blood sugar monitoring showed that they endured lower spikes after eating while on the special diet.
A study from the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona has claimed that quinoa may help prevent type 2 diabetes in people most at risk of developing the condition
It found that those who ate the nutrient-rich grain had lower spikes in blood glucose after meals. Graph shows: Blood sugar levels after a meal in people on a regular diet (black line) and quinoa-rich diets (red)
WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes a person’s blood sugar to become too high.
It is believed that over 4 million people in the UK have some form of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and you are more likely to get it if it runs in your family.
The condition means the body doesn’t respond well to insulin — the hormone that controls the absorption of sugar into the blood — and can’t properly regulate sugar glucose levels in the blood.
Excess fat in the liver increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes because the buildup makes it harder to control glucose levels and also makes the body more resistant to insulin.
Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and getting symptoms under control.
Symptoms include fatigue, being thirsty, and having to urinate frequently.
It can lead to more serious nerve, vision and heart problems.
Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but more severe cases may require medication.
Source: NHS Choices; Diabetes.nl
Researchers said this could be “critical” for preventing type 2 diabetes.
Quinoa’s micronutrient content, compared to bread, rice or potatoes, is thought to slow the digestion process, causing a slower spike in glucose.
Type 2 diabetes affects about 2 million people in the UK and 37 million in the US.
Seventy percent of prediabetics develop the full-blown condition, which can be fatal if left untreated.
Doctors are currently advising affected people to change their diet and exercise more to lose weight to prevent the onset of type 2.
The study, published in nutrientsfollowed nine prediabetics for eight weeks to see how changing their diet to include quinoa — which is rich in folate, magnesium, zinc and iron — affected their condition.
For the first four weeks, they were asked to maintain their normal diet, recording weights, BMIs and weight loss measurements.
They recorded what they ate and were fitted with a Freestyle Libre glucose monitoring system, which tracks blood levels throughout the day.
On the 28th day, researchers took blood samples to see how their blood sugar peaked after eight hours of fasting.
Over the next four weeks, the study was repeated, but the volunteers were switched to the quinoa-heavy diet.
However, the study did not specify exactly how much quinoa each individual ate over the four weeks.
dr. Diaz Rizzolo, of the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona, said: ‘We compared blood sugar patterns and found that when the participants ate quinoa, their blood sugar levels were lower than with their usual diet.
“This is crucial because these post-meal blood sugar spikes are a determining factor in the progression of type 2 diabetes.”
The polyphenols in quinoa are thought to be the reason eating it can help reduce blood sugar levels.
Also found in most fruits, vegetables and teas, the micronutrient helps slow the digestion of carbohydrates.
It also reduces the absorption of glucose in the gut and stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, reversing the effect of type 2 diabetes.
When people eat carbohydrates, the food is broken down into blood sugar. This tells the pancreas to release insulin, which allows glucose to enter the body’s cells.
But over time, high blood sugar levels can cause insulin resistance.
Because the insulin is not as effective at breaking down the sugars, it causes the body to produce more and more of it.
Ultimately, this leads to the pancreas becoming worn out, confusing the system and keeping blood sugar high.