This small, humble grain is a nutritional powerhouse and definitely worth the hype – not only is quinoa packed with the essentials, it may also support the health of diabetics and pre-diabetics.
It’s one of the few complete sources of plant-based protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids, but that’s not the only way in which quinoa is unique – it’s also a heart-healthy grain that can stabilise blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is a metabolic condition that affects 8.5% of adults around the globe that causes millions of deaths every year. Between 2000 and 2016 alone there was a 5% rise in premature death rates caused by diabetes.
A few switch-ups on our plates go a long way to preventing type 2 diabetes, along with reducing the severity of symptoms for those living with the condition. For starters, quinoa makes for an excellent option – here’s why.
Potassium and magnesium levels.
Quinoa is one of the most nutritionally dense grains – well, technically it’s a seed, but it packs a mighty punch. With excess potassium and magnesium levels, coming in at 15% and 28%, respectively, this unassuming seed knocks the competition out of the water. For comparison, rice only provides 2% of our daily potassium needs, while pasta only has around 5%, depending on the brand.
Here’s why this matters. When we don’t have enough potassium, the body makes less insulin – the result? High blood sugar, which is a problem associated with – you guessed it – diabetes. Studies have found that higher potassium intakes reduce the risk for diabetes, along with drastically improving the severity of existing conditions. Magnesium is the other hero nutrient in quinoa which helps regulate blood sugar levels, in fact, increased intake has been found to decrease the risk for diabetes by 22%.
Quinoa belongs to a group of foods that provide slow-release energy, also known as complex carbs. These carbs are less likely to spike blood sugar levels than their fast-release counterparts like rice and white flour, and they also provide more consistent energy throughout the day. They take longer to digest, therefore preventing blood-sugar spikes and keeping you fuller for longer.
- Quinoa is more nutritionally balanced than rice and white bread.
- It helps stabilise blood sugars.
- Their prebiotic content plays a role in gut health, which is essential for diabetes management.
Fibre plays an important role in slowing down sugar absorption and, as a result, it improves digestion and lowers blood sugar levels. For type 2 diabetics, this is essential in reducing the symptoms.
But, here’s the problem: only 5% of us are getting enough fibre. 19 to 38 grams per day is the current daily intake recommendation – for reference, just one cup of quinoa packs 5 grams of fibre. This is where adding in a serve of quinoa to your plate can help make sure your body doesn’t miss out on this heart-healthy nutrient.
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