Study: Glycaemia Fluctuations Improvement in Old-Age Prediabetic Subjects Consuming a Quinoa-Based Diet: A Pilot Study. Image Credit: Iryna Melnyk /

Quinoa-based diet stabilizes blood sugar in the elderly

Quinoa is a much healthier and more nutritious false grain than other grain products. new Nutrients A periodic study reports the ability of quinoa to normalize glucose metabolism in the body, especially among elderly people with impaired glucose tolerance.

Stady: Improvement of glycemic variability in premature aging diabetic subjects consuming a quinoa-based diet: a pilot study. Image Credit: Iryna Melnyk /

an introduction

Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) causes millions of premature deaths each year. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels rise higher than expected after a meal but with an overall stable state of blood sugar.

Having prediabetes increases the risk of developing T2DM by 70%, with about 10% developing diabetes each year. The risk of developing T2DM is particularly high in those 65 years of age or older.

Quinoa is distinguished by its high protein content, with a full range of all the essential amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, minerals and vitamins needed for health. In addition to its high carbohydrate and fiber content and low concentration of simple sugar, quinoa is rich in nutrition and associated with a low glycemic index, indicating that its consumption will raise blood sugar levels.

Quinoa also consists of a group of plant compounds that prevent the digestion of fats and sugars in the human intestine, which can reduce the rise in blood glucose after eating.

The current study aimed to explore the effect of a diet rich in quinoa on controlling hyperglycemia and other metabolic risk factors. To this end, the researchers chose to use blood sugar data collected by glucose sensors operating at long intervals with regular, preset scoring points. These data can be represented and analyzed as a curve using a functional data analysis (FDA) approach that yields glucose concentrations over time.


In this pilot study, all participants were at least 65 years old with fasting glucose levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL and no history of diabetes. In addition, all study participants ate grains, legumes, and/or tubers daily.

After an initial four-week period during which study participants ate their usual diet, all nine subjects were switched to a quinoa-based diet and continued for four weeks. All grains, grain-based products, legumes and tubers were replaced with quinoa-based products without changing the overall nutrient composition except for the grain portion.

Study participants ate quinoa, quinoa chips, and quinoa flour, as well as crackers, brioche, sponge cake, baguettes, sliced ​​bread, and pasta. Each of these products contains 70% quinoa or more.

All food products were made available to the people who commonly eat them. Study participants were also introduced to eight recipes for the foods they would normally eat, with quinoa replaced with tubers, legumes, and grains.

With a mean age of 70 years, most participants were overweight females. In addition, most study participants had high blood pressure, about 45% had high blood lipids, and 33% had one or more close family members with diabetes.

At the end of the study, glucose levels decreased before and after starting the quinoa-based diet. Weight and waist circumference also showed a slight decrease. Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) levels were also reduced by the end of the study.

Nutritionally speaking, study participants consumed more carbohydrates during their usual diet, while consuming more total fat and saturated fat during the period of the quinoa diet. In addition, cysteine, arginine, glutamic acid and proline also increased during the intervention period.

Additional analysis showed that several nutrients were associated with improved or reduced glucose concentrations. The first was related to gamma-tocopherol, soluble fiber, and oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC). The latter showed an association with theobromine, fatty acids, omega-6 PUFA, fructose, phytic acid, citric acid, cellulose and a total energy ratio of proteins. Insoluble dietary fiber also increased glucose levels.


The unique nutritional profile of quinoa, with its higher fat content and lower carbohydrate content than a typical grain, explains the difference in nutritional intake during the quinoa diet.

Eating more carbohydrates increases insulin levels, stimulates fat storage, and lowers the metabolic rate, thus promoting a vicious cycle of fat accumulation. A high-fat diet with the same number of calories reduces insulin secretion by stimulating lipid turnover in fat cells, thus making free fatty acids available for the body to use for energy production. In addition, dietary proteins promote the building of lean body mass during weight loss, which helps to expend more energy and improve the overall composition of the body.

In older diabetic subjects, improving diet quality is more important than reducing body weight to achieve beneficial metabolic outcomes. The stabilization of blood sugar fluctuations with the quinoa diet may be due to the low glycemic index of this pseudocereal.

The final conclusions await future studies, as participants in this study were able to observe blood sugar changes in real time, which likely stimulated better diet patterns even before the intervention phase began.

Both increased energy intake and increased fat content in quinoa were associated with lower glucose levels. This is likely due to other nutrients in quinoa that prevent high blood sugar.

Since post-meal hyperglycemia predicts the development of T2DM in many patients, the potential role of quinoa in delaying the development of this condition by decreasing the rise in post-meal glucose levels is promising. Among other food options, quinoa can help individuals with diabetes prevent the onset of T2DM.

Larger studies with a longer intervention period are required to validate and extend these findings.

A diet rich in quinoa reduces postprandial blood sugar, thanks to the combined action of different nutrients and the suppression of others taken in a regular diet, which may inhibit progression to T2D.. “

Journal reference:

  • Diaz-Rizzolo, D. A., Acar-Denizli, N., Kostov, B., et al. (2022). Improvement of glycemic variability in premature aging diabetic subjects consuming a quinoa-based diet: a pilot study. Nutrients.

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