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Regular Consumption of Quinoa May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Regular consumption of quinoa can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. That’s the main finding of the study by Diana Diaz Rizzolo, professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Oklahoma and researcher at the August Pi and Sunyer Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBAPS), and published publicly in the prestigious journal Nutrients.

Quinoa, a pseudocereal of Andean origin, has an exceptional nutritional value: it is very rich in B vitamins, vitamin E and C, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium. Likewise, it is a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber and has a high protein content with all the essential amino acids, which we must incorporate through the diet.

Quinoa is a false grain of Andean origin and has exceptional nutritional value and is beneficial for health.

Due to this nutritional value, it has been hypothesized that quinoa consumption may have a positive effect in relation to some cardiovascular diseases and other metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. However, there are no scientific studies that prove these supposed benefits to the health.

“We did a review to see what the scientific literature had to say about all the benefits attributed to quinoa and saw that there was no prior scientific evidence, that there were only hypotheses, and that current studies only focused on a specific ingredient or nutrient, with no take into account all the nutrients.” , says Diaz Rizzolo.

Some recent studies in mice have found that polyphenols, a type of micronutrient found in quinoa, can have a positive effect on lowering blood glucose. This is important, because a common disease like type 2 diabetes is specifically characterized by elevated blood glucose levels after eating carbohydrate-rich foods, due to a lack of production or detection of insulin secretion by the pancreas.

Replacing quinoa with grain quinoa reduces the sudden spike in blood glucose after meals

So, with all these potential benefits attributed to it, the researcher and her team wanted to know what would happen if they excluded other foods rich in carbohydrates capable of causing a rapid increase in blood glucose concentration from the diet and replaced them. With quinoa and foods made from pseudocereals. They wanted to see if this substitution could have a positive effect on preventing type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of developing the disease.

Type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disease, is one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide. Every year, one in ten people develop it. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2019 alone, 1.5 million people died worldwide from this condition, whose prevalence is increasing. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes is preceded by an earlier condition called prediabetes, which, if treated, the disease can still be prevented.

70% of people with pre-diabetes will eventually develop the disease. Also, this conversion rate increases in the elderly. Thus, the combination of pre-diabetes and old age significantly increases the risk of developing the disease. Therefore, we wanted to see if with quinoa we could prevent the onset of diseases in this group”, Highlights Dr. Diaz Rizzolo.

A Risk Factor For Type 2 Diabetes

The researchers recruited people over 65 years of age with prediabetes. Age itself is a risk factor for the development of the disease, which can start silently up to ten years before diagnosis. For a month, the researchers followed the volunteers: they set up a continuous glucose monitoring sensor that measured their blood sugar every minute of the day and asked them to record what they ate. That way, they could see how their blood glucose 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 with these pseudo-grains. For this, they worked with the Alicia Foundation, which developed new products based on quinoa flour very similar to the foods that the study volunteers already consumed, such as bread, rolls, pasta, cookies and toothpicks. In this way, they recorded for a month how the volunteers’ blood glucose levels fluctuated throughout the day.

“We compared blood glucose patterns and saw that when participants ate quinoa, the glucose spike was lower than the usual diet,” summarizes the University of Oklahoma researcher. “This is critical as the sudden rise in blood glucose after eating is critical for the development of type 2 diabetes,” he adds.

The researchers also found that eating quinoa helped control blood lipid levels, which is why they found it helpful in controlling hypercholesterolemia and other factors linked to heart disease risk. “Quinoa is rich in unsaturated fats, antioxidants and polyphenols, with clear cardiovascular benefits,” says Diaz Rizzolo. These pseudocereals also contain high levels of betaine, a compound capable of controlling homocysteine ​​levels and preventing the onset of coronary heart disease.

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