Managing Type 2: Why Quinoa Belongs In Your Pantry
It is used as a grain substitute but is really a seed, is botanically related to spinach, beets, and chard, and many of us look up the pronunciation three or four times before it sticks in our mind.
Despite its quirkiness, quinoa (KEEN-wah) can be a healthy addition to a type 2 diabetes meal plan. Both fiber and protein are dietary essentials in the management of blood sugar, and quinoa is brimming with both.
Quinoa is also a good source of healthy fat, and is an antioxidant treasure trove. Since inflammation is a risk factor in the development and progression of heart disease and diabetes, quinoa’s anti-inflammatory nutrients could qualify it as a type 2 dietary staple.
If you are still not convinced this South American gluten-free seed belongs on your dinner table, here are some more quintessential qualities of quinoa to whet your appetite.
Six More Reasons To Love Quinoa
- A study done at the Harvard School of Public Health followed more than 367,000 people for about 14 years. The researchers concluded that eating a bowl of quinoa every day may reduce the risk of premature death from illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes by 17 percent.
- Though quinoa is not mentioned in Betty Crocker’s cookbook, you can still use it to prepare her recipes—and substituting quinoa or quinoa flour for other grains and flours is easy. Quinoa has a mild, nutty flavor and chewy texture that complements a variety of other foods. It cooks up in fewer than 15 minutes, and is tasty hot or cold.
- The protein in quinoa is complete meaning it contains the nine essential amino acids that our body cannot manufacture on its own. Most of the grains we consume have incomplete proteins.
- About a third of the fatty acids in quinoa are from oleic acid. This is the same heart healthy monounsaturated fat we get from olive oil. Another five percent of quinoa’s fat content is ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid—a plant based type of omega-3s.
- Because quinoa is fiber-rich, eating it helps people feel full longer.
- Quinoa has beneficial effects on blood sugar levels. The seeds reduced “most of the adverse effects exerted” by a high-fructose diet on the glucose and lipid (fat) levels of lab animals. Another study suggests quinoa is better than gluten-free grains at lowering triglyceride and lipid levels.
It seems that all of us - diabetic or not - might be wise to keep our pantry stocked with quinoa, and cultivate the habit of using it often as a grain substitute.