Quinoa is one food that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Part of that is due to its general health benefits. As a whole grain, quinoa is at the top of the list of whole grains with great fiber content. Whole grains do not generally qualify as a good source of protein due to their lacking needed amino acids to qualify as a protein, quinoa nonetheless, comes packed with all the essential amino acids making it a complete protein. So can diabetics eat quinoa?
Quinoa lands at 53 on the GI scale, putting it on the medium part of the scale. In part, this is due to its fiber and protein content. This low number means that it will not be responsible for sudden increases in blood sugar levels. But what makes this particular grain such a superfood for diabetics, how does it compare to brown rice?
Quinoa vs. Brown Rice – Let The Battle Begin!
Like any food discussion, there has to be a comparison to other food, to truly assess the benefits of one food over another. Let’s put the gloves on and begin to study the two foods and see how they hold up… Brown rice in general, has been a great source of clean carbs. This is mainly due to the husk exclusively, is removed, leaving the bran and germ. By leaving the germ and the bran, brown rice is a splendid source of fiber and essential nutrients.
Quinoa is actually the seed of the goosefoot plant. At the same time, because you prepare, and eat quinoa the same as you would a grain, it makes a great alternative and people often substitute it for rice in their diets. However, when you compare rice head-to-head with quinoa you will find one clear winner every time. This is in part due to quinoa’s great nutritional value over rice.
Brown rice wins when it comes to calories and fiber. With that being said, one thing rice and quinoa can agree on is that they are both perfect for gluten-free diets. Both foods are naturally gluten-free, the only time that would change was if there was some sort of cross-contamination that happens during processing. If you are trying to cut flour out of your diet or suffer from celiac disease, they are both great options.
What Is The Nutritional Value of Quinoa?
Quinoa has more protein, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals than most other grains, but what is the actual nutritional value of quinoa that makes it such a “super-food” you may be wondering… One cup (185g) of the powerful little seed has 222 calories. 100 grams of cooked quinoa has 120 calories, 1.9g of fat, only 0.9g of sugar, a delightful 2.8g of fiber. It is also 72% water, with 21.3g of carbohydrates, and a whopping 4.4g of protein.
Cooked quinoa is made up of 21% carbs, which compares to barley and rice. 83% of the carbs in quinoa are starches, while the rest consist mainly of fibers. Quinoa sits comparatively low on the GI scale, landing at 53, meaning that you can enjoy it without seeing sudden spikes in your blood sugar.
It has also been called a great source of fiber too. 10% of fiber’s dry weight comes from its fiber content, of which 80-90% are insoluble fibers which have been well-known to reduce the risk of diabetes. Through some of these insoluble fibers, your gut feeds the friendly bacteria promoting a generally better and healthier gut.
The high protein content also contributes to this food’s “super-food” label. Quinoa packs a whopping 16% protein, making it higher than any other grain cereals made from barley, rice, and corn. Did I mention that quinoa is also a great gluten-free choice for you too?
Is Quinoa Good For Diabetics?
What is one particularly important part of living with diabetes? – managing your diet to control your blood sugar levels. That means that you must eat foods that are not going to be high on GI, so you can avoid unexpected sudden increases in those levels. Because quinoa is on the lower end of the scale, mixed with all the protein and fiber it packs, it is a great choice for a diabetic diet.
Quinoa also has several properties that make it a diet-friendly food too. One of those is protein which helps boost your metabolism and provides a sense of fullness. Fiber is also key to weight loss, as it also aids in a feeling of fullness and helps decrease calorie intake. All these factors, plus several others make it a very viable and real substitute for diabetics looking for better choices.
A 2009 study from the Journal of Medicinal Food revealed the potential for a diet that includes ancient Peruvian Andean grains such as Quinoa. The reason they stated was because of its ability to help manage type 2 diabetes and the high blood pressure that is associated with it. The benefits of this little natural wonder go far beyond the benefits for diabetics – the benefits make it a great food for everyone to use daily.
Can Diabetics Eat Quinoa – Final Thoughts
As a food, quinoa is probably the most surprising, with all its grain-like benefits and then some. This ancient grain is gaining in popularity very rapidly in the modern diet. From its high fiber to its great protein Quinoa is a great addition to a healthy diet for everyone, not only diabetics.
There are a ton of recipes that help you better understand what to do with Quinoa. They range from breakfast foods to evening snacks. And since there is research out there that shows just how beneficial it can be when it comes to aiding with blood sugar and cholesterol, why would you not want to include it.
The truth is that, if you can make rice, then you can most certainly make Quinoa. Now go and dust off the rice cooker and get yourself some quinoa today. Your body will thank you.