These factors—and especially that last one—makes quinoa a food that is of particular interest to those who suffer from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Quinoa is a malleable seed that can provide an excellent substitute for other materials, increase dietary fiber, and greatly aid those looking to undergo a nutritional overhaul.
Here are just 4 ways that quinoa is great for people with diabetes:
1. The Low Glycemic Index
The simplest answer as to why people with diabetes are so interested in quinoa has to be the issue of the Glycemic Index (GI) number.
In short—a food’s particular GI number informs people with diabetes of how much they can expect their blood sugar to be affected by consuming the food. The higher the GI, the greater chance those people with diabetes will experience rapid fluctuations in their glucose levels.
Quinoa has a GI of 35-53, which places it not necessarily at the lowest of foods, but far lower than something like white sliced bread, which has a GI of 75.
This GI differential is what makes many people interested in using quinoa as a substitute for meals and recipes that call for grains and bases like rice (70), potatoes (65), and pasta (55).
It’s important to note that—while usually referred to as a grain—quinoa as we know it as actually a seed. However, since that the texture and consistency are substantially equal to grains, we’ll be referring to it as such from here on out.
2. Versatility As A Substitute
Like previously mentioned, quinoa is often substituted in for other foods that are either too unhealthy or too high on the Glycemic Index to be worth considering for people with diabetes. Having the ability to substitute means that you can enjoy your favorite meals—even with a chronic illness.
One of the most common ways quinoa is substitute for it is a healthy meal replacement. Quinoa is a great source of plant based protein, offering about 8 grams of protein per cup. Anything from taco meat to hamburgers has been made from quinoa—and entirely without any animals harmed in the process.
People with diabetes can enjoy quinoa’s additional benefits due to the omega-3 content and fibrous qualities,—plus, the ingredient is excellent for vegans and celiacs as well.
This versatility is often very significant to diabetics on a budget—and being able to purchase quinoa in bulk and insert it into meals recommended by a doctor will help you feel full without having to worry about pulling out the insulin.
As we’ve mentioned before, quinoa is a gluten-free food—so if you already have a gluten sensitivity or have been recommended by a doctor to avoid gluten, there should be no issues inserting quinoa into your diet.
Why this specific reason may be important to those who don’t have gluten sensitivities, however, is a little more nebulous.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), while those with type 2 diabetes have little to fear, it’s very common for type 1 diabetes and celiac disease to accompany each other. This correlation continues to be studied, and we have to note that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. As of now, we just don’t know if gluten and diabetes are connected.
For those with type 1 or even type 2 diabetes, it may be in your best interest to go ahead and cut down on gluten if possible. If you can replace bread and other bases that contain gluten with quinoa. Alongside the previously mentioned benefits, cutting down on gluten may be a wise decision until we learn more about this correlation.
4. Keeping Weight Off
Finally, those with diabetes know the dangerous consequences of obesity and remaining overweight. Often, these factors bring on diabetes in the first place.
Aside from GI numbers, substitutions, or gluten, quinoa is a great food to help keep the weight off. A New York University study recently showed that the combination of all nine amino acids and fiber content in quinoa results in a grain that’s perfect for weight maintenance.
It’s a dangerous notion to rely solely on foods to either lose weight or maintain your current weight, but foods like quinoa are great assistants to utilize alongside exercise and fitness routines. Since quinoa fits into almost any popularly recommended diet, there’s no need to worry about disrupting homeostasis or breaking any commitments you have to avoid certain ingredients.
The running theme throughout our entire list has to be versatility—and for an excellent reason.
Grains are often the foundational ingredient in foods—so picking up a grain (or seed) that can not only keep your blood sugar low but also assist in nutritional value is essential. Learning how to eat after a diabetes diagnosis can be difficult—so knowing which bases to start from will make a living with diabetes just a little bit easier.
While food and exercise are very important in the treatment of diabetes, medication is sometimes also necessary and wise counsel from your licensed doctor. Talk to your doctor about quinoa or other grains you’ve been considering to make sure everything gets the seal of approval.
You can also take that opportunity update your prescriptions and make sure the medicine you’ve been taking is working correctly. Also, consider asking about Medly or other prescription delivery services. These services are designed to work alongside you—to give you the most time possible to devote to a healthy and happy body.
However you approach your diet, we hope that you consider quinoa as a tool you can utilize to keep healthy and eat right. Chances are, you won’t regret it.