Quinoa

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Quinoa has been trending as a health food in recent years, especially where diabetes is concerned. While quinoa is very similar in taste and texture to pasta, it is a much healthier alternative. Its only main drawback is that, like pasta, its carbohydrate count is very high. Still, small amounts can be extremely beneficial when consumed. Quinoa offers valuable nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, while also offering numerous health benefits through its high fiber content (which is twice that found in pasta).

Fiber

Dietary fibers are very important to the prevention and management of diabetes, as well as the betterment of general health. Fiber is known to help regulate the digestive system while increasing the regularity of bowel movements. This can lead to a healthier digestive system in general, which assists the promotion of weight loss. Weight loss is further encouraged by the fact that fiber is very filling. Since quinoa has twice as much fiber as pasta, this means that a person substituting pasta with quinoa in a dish should theoretically be able to eat half as much quinoa and still feel as if they consumed a larger meal. Obesity is a prime factor in the onset of diabetes, so this type of weight management is a keen tool in diabetes prevention and management.

In addition to its inherent weight loss benefits, fiber can help stabilize blood sugar levels while simultaneously improving cholesterol. Not only do foods with high fiber content help to lower bad cholesterol, they help to raise good cholesterol as well. This can have a major impact on diabetes management, making the patient less prone to heart disease and other conditions which might arise from poor health due to unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Vitamins and Nutrients

Quinoa includes multiple healthy vitamins and nutrients. These include potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamin E. Potassium is an important electrolyte that can yield numerous positive effects. Low potassium levels are associated with malnutrition, a surefire sign that diabetes has taken a heavy toll on bodily functions. For instance, low potassium might arise due to the symptomatic increase in urination caused by type 2 diabetes. By increasing potassium intake through the use of foods such as quinoa, one can ensure that it does its job and promotes cardiovascular health. This can help to prevent heart disease as well as more minor (yet still alarming) heart defects, such as arrhythmia.

As with potassium, magnesium levels in diabetes patients are often lower than they should be. Magnesium is arguably much more potent than potassium when it comes to the prevention of heart disease, though this is not its only benefit. Aside from preventing heart defects and lowering blood pressure, magnesium also aids the body’s metabolic rates. Furthermore, it can help to synthesize proteins. Quinoa is relatively high in protein as is, so elevated magnesium levels only serve to further increase the health benefits of this food source.

Vitamin E is similar to the above nutrients in that it helps prevent the risk of heart disease. In addition, it helps promote the stabilization of glucose levels in the bloodstream. It is also something of a cleansing agent, helping to unclog arteries and eliminate triglycerides (fat in the bloodstream).

Cautions

While the potassium content of quinoa is generally considered a positive trait, it is also a reason that overconsumption is ill-advised. Raising the body’s potassium levels too high can result in kidney damage, a risk which is already present when grappling with diabetes.

As previously noted, quinoa is also just as high in carbohydrates as most pastas. Since the fiber content allows for less consumption while still providing a filling meal, it is best to limit the use of quinoa in main dishes while supplementing the dish with other nutrient sources if desired. Since quinoa has been something of a trend in recent years, there are numerous quinoa recipes that will provide for the use of quinoa in healthy amounts. A good portion of these recipes will likely be geared specifically toward diabetics.

Author: hilley
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