Regular consumption of quinoa may help reduce the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to a study by the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and the August Pi and Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), published openly in the journal impede nutrient (1).
In particular, replacing quinoa with grains moderates post-meal blood sugar spikes, and post-meal blood sugar spikes are critical to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Quinoa, a pseudocereal from the Andes, has a high nutritional value. It is very rich in B vitamins and vitamins E and C as well as minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium. It is also a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber and is high in protein with all the essential amino acids that must be obtained from the diet.
Because of this nutritional value, it has been hypothesized that consuming quinoa could have a beneficial impact on certain cardiovascular diseases and other metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, however there has not been any scientific study to support these purported health benefits.
Some recent studies in mice had found that polyphenols, a type of micronutrient found in quinoa, may have a beneficial effect on lowering blood sugar levels. And type 2 diabetes is precisely characterized by an increase in blood sugar levels after eating carbohydrate-rich foods due to the lack of production or detection of insulin secreted by the pancreas.
For this reason, UOC Professor of Health Sciences Diana Díaz Rizzolo and her team wanted to see what would happen if they eliminated other high-carbohydrate foods from their diet that could cause blood glucose concentrations to rise more quickly, so they replaced them with quinoa and Food made from this pseudocereal. They wanted to see if this substitution could have a positive impact on preventing type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of developing the disease.
As you recall, type 2 diabetes is preceded by an earlier condition called prediabetes, in which the disease can still be prevented if addressed. “70 percent of people who are in a prediabetic state will develop the disease. Also, this conversion ratio increases in older adults. The sum of the pre-diabetic condition and aging therefore greatly increases the risk of developing the disease,” he emphasizes from Dr. Diaz Rizzolo.
Age, a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes
The researchers recruited people over the age of 65 with prediabetes. Age is in itself a risk factor for the development of the disease, which can silently begin ten years before diagnosis.
For a month, the researchers followed the volunteers: they placed a continuous glucose monitoring sensor that quantified blood glucose levels every minute of the day and asked them to record what they ate. This allowed them to see how blood sugar levels fluctuated after each meal.
After a month, they replaced foods high in complex carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, tubers, and pasta) with quinoa and foods made from this pseudo-grain. To do this, they worked with the Alícia Foundation, which developed new products based on quinoa flour that closely resembled the foods the subjects were already consuming, such as bread, rolls, pasta, crackers and sticks. For a month, they recorded how the blood sugar level of the subjects changed over the course of the day.
“We compared the patterns of blood sugar levels and found that when participants ate quinoa, the glucose peak was lower than that of the usual diet,” summarizes the UOC researcher. “This is crucial because those post-meal spikes in blood sugar are crucial for the development of type 2 diabetes,” he adds.
The researchers also found that quinoa consumption helped control blood lipid levels, which is why they think it may be useful in controlling hypercholesterolemia and other factors associated with heart risk.
“Quinoa is high in unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and polyphenols with clear cardiovascular benefits,” says Díaz Rizzolo. This pseudograin is also high in betaine, a compound that can control homocysteine levels and prevent the onset of coronary artery disease.
- (1) Improvement in glycemic fluctuations in prediabetic aged subjects consuming a quinoa-based diet: A pilot study. Nutrient.