Packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, quinoa is one of the healthiest grains, and now, new research suggests that consuming quinoa regularly can help prevent Type 2 diabetes. With approximately one in 10 (37.3 million) Americans diagnosed with diabetes, this groundbreaking review gives those facing the risk of Type 2 diabetes some relief by simply adding this common grain to their diets.

Quinoa has come to be known as a highly nutritious superfood, consisting of vitamins B, E, C, and all essential amino acids. Before now, no scientific studies backed claims that this grain could help reduce the risk of metabolic or cardiovascular diseases. Published in the medical journal Nutrients, researchers concluded that replacing high carbohydrate foods with quinoa can control blood sugar spikes.

Diana Diaz Rizzolo – a member of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and a researcher at the August Pi I Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute – initiated the study when she realized that no study had been completed connecting quinoa consumption to preventing blood sugar spikes.

“We carried out a review to find out what the scientific literature had to say about all the benefits attributed to quinoa and we found that there was no previous scientific evidence, only hypotheses and that all the studies conducted in the past only focused on specific components or nutrients, without taking into account the food as a whole,” Rizzolo said in a statement.

“Seventy percent of people with prediabetes will go on to develop the disease,” Rizzolo said. “This conversion rate is even higher among older adults, which means that prediabetes plus aging 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.”

Eating Quinoa Reduces Risk of Diabetes

To conduct the study, the research team studied how diet and quinoa consumption affected prediabetic participants over the age of 65. The researchers examined the blood sugar levels of the participants over an entire month, providing participants with a glucose monitor that showed the change in blood sugar levels after each meal.

Towards the end of the month, the participants replaced high-carb foods including pasta, potatoes, and cereal with quinoa and quinoa-based foods provided by the Alicia Foundation. The quinoa-based foods included pasta, brioches, breadsticks, and bread.

“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,” Rizzolo said. “This is crucial because these post-meal blood sugar spikes are a determining factor in the progression of Type 2 diabetes.”

The research also found that quinoa-based diets better control lipid levels. The researchers believe that this could signify that quinoa also controls high cholesterol and other risks for cardiac diseases. The grain also contains high levels of betaine – a compound that helps prevent coronary heart disease.

“Quinoa contains a high level of unsaturated fats, antioxidants, and polyphenols, with clear cardiovascular benefits,” Rizzolo said.

Eating Plant-Based Benefits Diabetics or Prediabetics

Type 2 diabetes cases are expected to surpass 700 million globally by 2045, but introducing more plant-based foods could slow down this spike. This April, another study found that eating healthy plant-based foods can significantly help lower the risk for Type 2 diabetes.

“While it is difficult to tease out the contributions of individual foods because they were analyzed together as a pattern, individual metabolites from consumption of polyphenol-rich plant foods like fruits, vegetables, coffee, and legumes are all closely linked to a healthy plant-based diet and lower risk of diabetes,” Lead Author of the Study and Professor Frank Hu said.

Cutting down on red meat can also help lower your risk of diabetes. One study found that regularly eating red or processed meats increases the risk of diabetes by 33 percent. Along with quinoa, eating more whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts, and soybeans help control blood sugar, improve weight management, and offer protective nutrients to stay healthy.

This month, a study found that a few minutes of exercise every day can help lower your blood sugar levels – reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. The study claims that resting after eating causes blood sugar spikes whereas taking just a two-minute walk helps with digestion and controlling blood sugar levels.

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