Type 2 diabetes details a chronic condition caused by impaired insulin production. Deprived of this key mechanism, your blood glucose is left to its own devices, reaching dangerous heights. Fortunately, eating your way to a lower risk might just work, according to the new study.
If you have ditched rice for quinoa, you might be onto something as this “pseudograin” can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Characterised by its mild nutty taste, quinoa also seems to mitigate blood sugar spikes after meals.
These are the two main conclusions from the study published in the journal Nutrients.
Native to the Andes, quinoa packs an “exceptionally” high nutritional value.
The little food contains vitamins B, E and C as well as minerals. Apart from all of these goodies, the pseudograin also offers fibre and protein.
Exactly because of these nutritional properties, the researchers wanted to investigate whether a quinoa-based diet could favour type 2 diabetes.
The research team led by Diana Díaz Rizzolo recruited nine prediabetic patients over the age of 65.
The subjects were given a glucose monitor that measured their blood sugar every minute of the day.
They were also instructed to keep a record of what they ate, helping to determine foods’ impacts on blood glucose.
At the end of a month, they were instructed to swap foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as cereals, pulses, tubers and pasta, with quinoa and foods made from this pseudocereal.
Díaz Rizzolo said: “We compared the blood sugar patterns and found that when the participants had eaten quinoa, their blood sugar spike was 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.”
However, the study did not specify how much quinoa the subjects consumed.
Their findings are especially meaningful for people with prediabetes.
Dr Díaz Rizzolo added: “Seventy percent of people with prediabetes will go on to develop the disease.
“This conversion rate is even higher among older adults, which means that prediabetes plus ageing equals a tremendous increase in the risk of developing the disease.
“This is why we wanted to see whether quinoa could be used to prevent the onset of the disease in this group.”
However, the small nutty grain could also help control blood sugar levels in those who already suffer from the condition.
Those with type 2 diabetes often experience blood sugar spikes after consuming carbohydrate-rich foods.
Apart from its positive effects on blood sugar, quinoa-based diet could be helpful in controlling high cholesterol as well.
“Quinoa contains a high level of unsaturated fats, antioxidants and polyphenols, with clear cardiovascular benefits,” said Díaz Rizzolo.
While these findings sound very promising, it’s important to note that the research only looked at a small number of participants, meaning that a larger-scale study might be needed.