If you have diabetes, you may constantly ask yourself: Is this OK for me to eat? While as a diabetic, you need to pay more attention to what you eat, you don't need to eat special foods. As a nutritious whole-grain, quinoa makes a healthy choice for anyone, especially someone with diabetes.
As a low-glycemic carb that's rich in fiber and magnesium, quinoa is a good grain for people with diabetes.
Quinoa and Carbs
When you have diabetes, you need to be aware of the carbohydrate content in the food you eat. When your body digests foods with carbs, it turns it into sugar. You don't need to avoid carbs, but you do need to manage how much you eat at meals. Your doctor or a dietitian can help you determine your daily carb needs. As a grain, carbs are the primary source of calories in quinoa. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked quinoa has 110 calories, 20 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. As a frame of reference, most people eat 30 to 60 grams of carbs at each meal. That means you might be able to fit in up to 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa at a meal.
While quinoa is a source of carbs, not all carbs act the same in your body. Some get digested quickly and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, referred to as high-glycemic foods. Others digest more slowly and only cause a slight but even rise in blood sugar, referred to as low-glycemic foods. The glycemic index is a tool that ranks how carbs affect your blood sugar. Quinoa is considered a low-glycemic food. As a carb that only causes a slight rise in blood sugar, quinoa makes a good choice for people with diabetes.
Fiber Content and Diabetes
With 3 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup, quinoa is a good source of fiber, which also benefits people with diabetes. Eating more fiber-rich carbs improves blood sugar and lowers cholesterol. It also prevents increases in insulin levels, which is good for people with type 2 diabetes. The exact mechanism as to how fiber helps improve blood sugar isn't known, but it's thought to stem from fiber's ability to slow digestion and nutrient absorption.
High in Magnesium
Quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium, meeting more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value in a 1/2-cup serving. Magnesium deficiency is more prevalent in people with diabetes. One of the primary roles of magnesium in your body is blood sugar control. Improving magnesium intake from foods such as quinoa may help improve insulin sensitivity and your blood sugar numbers.
About the Author
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and sharing her love of food, nutrition and health with anyone who'll listen for almost 20 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and Working Mother.
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