The researchers recorded for a month how the volunteers’ blood glucose levels fluctuated throughout the day.
Regular consumption of quinoa can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetesaccording to a study by the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and the August Pi y Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (Idibaps), and published openly in the journal ‘nutrients’.
Specifically, substituting the consumption of cereals for quinoa mitigates the peaks of blood glucose tAfter meals, and spikes in blood glucose after eating are decisive in the evolution of type 2 diabetes.
Quinoa, a pseudocereal of Andean origin, 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 or magnesium. It is also a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, and contains a high protein concentration with all the essential amino acids, which are the ones that must be incorporated through the diet.
Due to this nutritional value, it had been hypothesized that the quinoa consumption it could have a favorable impact with respect to certain cardiovascular diseases and other metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. However, there was no scientific study to support these supposed health benefits.
Some recent studies with mice had observed that polyphenols, a type of micronutrient present in quinoa, could have a positive effect in lowering blood glucose. And type 2 diabetes is characterized precisely by a increased blood glucose levels after eating foods rich in carbohydrates, due to the lack of production or detection of insulin secreted by the pancreas.
For this reason, the teacher of the Health Sciences Studies of the UOC, Diana Díaz Rizzolo, and her team wanted to see what would happen if they eliminated other foods rich in carbohydrates capable of causing a more rapid increase in blood glucose concentration from the diet and replaced them with quinoa and foods made from this pseudocereal. They wanted to see if this substitution could have a positive impact on the prevention of type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of developing the disease.
As they recall, type 2 diabetes is preceded by a previous state called prediabetes, in which, if action is taken, the disease can still be prevented. “70 percent of people with prediabetes will eventually develop the disease. Furthermore, this conversion ratio increases in older adults. In this way, the sum of prediabetic status and aging greatly increases the risk of developing the disease”, highlights Dr. Díaz Rizzolo.
Age, risk factor in type 2 diabetes
The researchers recruited old people 65 years old with prediabetes. Age is itself a risk factor for developing the disease, which can start silently ten years before diagnosis.
For a month, the researchers followed the volunteers: they placed a monitoring sensor continuous glucose monitor that quantified their blood sugar value every minute of the day, and asked them to record what they ate. In this way, they were able to see how blood glucose levels fluctuated after each meal.
After a month, they replaced foods rich in complex carbohydrates (such as cereals, legumes, tubers and pasta) with quinoa and foods made from this pseudocereal. To do this, they worked with the Alícia Foundation, which developed new products based on quinoa flour that were very similar to the foods that the study volunteers were already consuming, such as breads, rolls, pasta, crackers and sticks. In this way, for a month they recorded how the volunteers’ blood glucose levels fluctuated throughout the day.
“We compared the patterns of blood glucose and we saw that, when the participants had eaten quinoa, the glucose peak was lower than with the usual diet”, summarizes the UOC researcher. “This is crucial, because these blood glucose spikes after eating are decisive in the evolution of type 2 diabetes”, he adds.
The researchers also saw that the consumption of quinoa helped control the level of lipids in the blood, so they consider that it could be useful to control the hypercholesterolemia and other factors related to cardiac risk.
“Quinoa contains a high content of unsaturated fats, antioxidants and polyphenols, with clear cardiovascular benefits,” says Díaz Rizzolo. This pseudocereal also has high levels of betaine, a compound capable of controlling homocysteine levels and preventing the onset of coronary heart disease.
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