Grains good for diabetes

Healthy grains

Grains of goodness: a closer look

Eaten as a staple food across many parts of the world, grains exist in our diets in many forms, offering an important source of energy.

It’s common knowledge that whole grains are good for us, from rice and wheat, to barley and quinoa.

Much of the nutrient goodness of grains are found in the bran and germ of the seed, which is why it’s important to

eat grains without these parts being milled off first – this is what the term ‘whole grain’ refers to.

Grains in your diet

Whole grains are wonderfully versatile – add them to salads for texture, bulk up a soup or stew, blend them in burgers or use directly as a meat alternative, or combine them whole in baked goods.

They aren’t hard to include in your everyday eating routine and a little whole grain goes a long way!

Packed with nutrients

What do wholegrains contain?

  • Fibre
  • B vitamins
  • Folic acid
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Protein
  • Antioxidants
  • Micro-nutrients

Cooking with grains

Cooking most grains is very similar to cooking rice – simply add the dry grain to a pan of water or broth, bring to a

boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed. For a healthy boost of nutrients,experiment with different grains in different forms to bring variety to your meals.

Which grain to choose?


With roughly 60 varieties in total, amaranth is not technically a grain but is of similar nutrition value and usage. These tiny grains have a slightly peppery flavour and can be cooked in water, popped like corn or added to baked goods to increase protein content.


For those seeking high fibre, you don’t get much better than barley. Often found as a flour, barley makes a closely textured bread with a slightly sweet flavour.


Related to rhubarb, buckwheat is also not a grain as such, but is used in much the same way. It works well as a flour substitute for noodles, bread and pancakes.


Also known as maize, corn is a grain when dried and a vegetable when fresh. Often made into popcorn, cornbread and tortillas, corn is widely used. It also doubles up as a starch and as a sweetener in the form of corn syrup.


Freekeh is harvested green wheat which is then roasted and rubbed. A firm, slightly chewy grain with a distinct earthy, nutty, smoky flavour.


An important staple food across Africa and India, millet is made from lots of different varieties of tiny grains. Commonly used in bread, certain types of porridge and beer, millet can be prepared to be creamy like mashed potato or fluffy like rice.


Known as ‘rolled oats’ as steamed, flattened whole oat grains or as more robust ‘steel-cut oats’ when chopped, this grain makes an ideal coating for fish and chicken, used as a crumble topping, for bread-making and, of course, as porridge.

A valuable source of protein, quinoa comes in a variety of different colours but it most commonly eaten in red, white and black forms. Use as an alternative to cous cous and rice to accompany main meals or add to salad year-round.


One of the better-known forms of grain, white rice has the germ and bran removed, while brown rice is left intact.


Rye bread makes a great alternative to less healthy types of bread. With high fibre content and low glycemic index, it makes a heavier, coarser and more nutritious bread.


Made into a spongy pancake-like bread in Africa, teff is a tiny grain and is never refined. It’s extremely simple to cook and works especially well for baking.


This grain is made from a combination of wheat and rye. As a flour, it can be used to make biscuits, crisp breads, cakes and muffins or, as rolled oats, in breakfast cereals.


Hard wheat is high in protein and contains strong gluten while soft wheat is the opposite. In the UK, soft wheat is more common and is used widely to make pasta and cous cous.

Try our range of wholegrain recipes to up fibre and nutrients in your diet…

Chicken biryani

Very berry porridge

Barley mushroom risotto

Rice and beans

Apple and raisin muesli bars

Corn chowder

Quinoa stuffed squash

Pepper and tomato bulgar wheat salad

Spinach, corn and chickpea fritters

Herby stuffed aubergine

There’s a good chance that, at one point or another, you’ve wondered about eating certain foods. If you have diabetes, foods that contain carbohydrate (also known as carb) come to mind. And one type of carb food that never fails to spark debate is grains. There’s the camp that disparages most grains, in general, proclaiming that they’re bad for diabetes because they’ll send your blood sugars sky-high. On the more moderate side of things, the argument is that refined grains are to be avoided, but whole grains are OK (in limited amounts). And then there’s the rest of the folks who feel thoroughly confused. Is it OK to eat pasta? What the heck is farro, anyway? Read on to learn more.


Whole grains defined
According to the Oldways Whole Grains Council, a whole grain has “all three parts of the original grain — the starchy endosperm, the fiber-rich bran, and the germ.” The bran is the outer layer of the grain; the germ is the “embryo,” which contains B vitamins, vitamin E, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fat, and the endosperm is the germ’s food source that contains carbohydrate, protein, and some vitamins and minerals. Once a food manufacturer starts stripping away any part of a whole grain, it’s no longer, well, whole. Now it’s refined. And that’s when the grain starts to lose many of its healthy attributes.

Whole-grain myths
People who have diabetes should avoid all grains and grain foods. This particular fallacy stems from the fact that grains contain carbohydrate. Carbohydrate (in many people’s minds) is bad. They raise your blood sugar, right? So, stay away from them. But, it’s not that simple, at least when it comes to grains. As we just learned, whole grains are packed with nutrition — carb, yes, but also some protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. How can that be bad? First, eating whole grains has been shown to help prevent Type 2 diabetes, based on research from the Nurses’ Health Study I and II. The bran and fiber in whole grains slow the digestion of the starch into blood glucose, causing less of a glycemic impact. And the phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals in whole grains are also thought to play a role in reducing diabetes risk. For people who have diabetes, the same holds true: Whole grain foods lead to smaller blood sugar spikes than refined grains, making it easier to manage your blood sugars.

Forget about eating pasta if you have diabetes. How many of you wouldn’t touch pasta with a 10-foot pole? Say “sayonara” to that plate of spaghetti and meatballs, right? Not necessarily. It’s true that much of the pasta that we’re familiar with is refined (that is to say, “white” pasta). And refined pasta can raise blood sugar levels. But you have options. Thanks to all the attention that whole grains have been getting, there are many other types of pasta to choose from, and you can often find them right in your local grocery store. Whole wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt, and brown rice pastas are but a few examples. Because of their “whole-grainy-ness,” these pastas are more slowly digested and are less likely to send your blood sugars sky-high. So, here are some tips for fitting in pasta:

• Go for whole-grain versions.

• Keep an eye on portions. A huge bowl of any type of pasta will impact your blood sugars, for sure.

• Mix your pasta with vegetables (these are very low in carb), and add a healthy protein food, such as chicken breast, ground turkey meatballs, seafood, tofu, or beans.

• Cook your pasta “al dente” so that’s there’s still some firmness to it. Al dente pasta has a lower glycemic index than overly soft pasta.

It’s too hard to figure out what foods are whole grain. Unless you see the Whole Grain Stamp on a food package (this looks like a sheaf of grain against a yellow background), it can be challenging to pick out whole grain foods, such as breads, pastas, and cereals. Your best bet is to skip front-of-package labeling and locate the ingredient list. If the first ingredient contains the word “whole,” as in “whole wheat,” you’ve made a good choice. Don’t fall for “made with whole grains” claims. Also, here are other foods that often aren’t whole grains:

• 100% wheat
• Multigrain
• Cracked wheat
• Bran
• 7 grains
• Dark-colored bread (this may be colored with caramel coloring)

Eating whole grains will cause weight gain. Grains and other carb foods are often blamed for a host of health woes, including weight gain. But here’s where one needs to separate the wheat from the chaff — it’s too easy to lump all carbs together and point the finger at them. Processed and refined carbs (think sugary drinks, white bread, desserts) can lead to insulin resistance, high triglycerides (a type of blood fat), and weight gain (especially around the middle). Whole grains and whole-grain foods, on the other hand, which include rolled and steel-cut oats, brown rice, and whole wheat flour, have been shown to increase the metabolic rate (which means that your body burns more calories); in addition, because they tend to be higher in fiber than refined carbs, and because of their lower glycemic impact, they tend to be more filling, which means that you end up eating less. While this isn’t a license to tuck into a platter piled high with quinoa, it does mean that whole-grain foods can be part of a weight-loss and weight-maintenance eating plan.

I don’t like whole grains and I don’t even know how to cook them! Whole-grain foods usually do taste different, and for that reason, you might think that they don’t taste good. But give them a chance! And if you’re thinking of fitting more whole grains into your eating plan, start off with ones that you think you might like — for instance, did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? And oatmeal is a great way to start the day (but shy away from the sweetened, instant varieties). Venture into some of the “ancient” grains, like farro (also called emmer), which is a type of wheat, or millet, a high-protein grain. To learn more about grains and get tips for how to cook them, visit the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s website.

Are you a young adult living with Type 1 diabetes? Then you may be interested in the 2017 Students With Diabetes/Young Adults With Diabetes National Conference. Bookmark and tune in tomorrow to learn more.

Want to avoid type 2 diabetes? Eat more whole grains

(HealthDay)—It may seem counterintuitive, but eating bread, pasta and cereal may actually help prevent type 2 diabetes, as long as those foods are made from whole grains, new research suggests.

The study found that each serving of whole-grain foods per day was linked to as much as an 11 percent drop in the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Whole grains appear to play an important role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes, and choosing whole grains over refined grains is highly recommended,” said study author Cecilie Kyro. She is a post-doctoral researcher at the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen.

Kyro added that, in addition to preventing type 2 diabetes, there is evidence that whole grains can help prevent heart disease and colon cancer.

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and most have type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). People with type 2 diabetes don’t use the hormone insulin efficiently.

Insulin normally ushers blood sugar into cells to be used as energy. But some people are resistant to the effects of insulin, and then more and more insulin is needed to do the same job. Eventually, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas can’t keep up with the demand, and blood sugar levels rise, resulting in type 2 diabetes, according to the ADA.

Lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, are known to play a role in type 2 diabetes. In the latest study, researchers wanted to see what role specific whole grains played in type 2 diabetes.

To do this, they reviewed diet information from more than 55,000 people, aged 50 to 65, in Denmark. On average, the group was slightly overweight.

Overall, about 7,400 people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the study’s average 15-year follow-up.

The study volunteers completed food diaries. From these food diaries, the researchers calculated how many grams of whole grains each person ate daily.

The investigators found that for every serving of whole-grain food, the risk of type 2 diabetes dropped by 11 percent for men and 7 percent for women.

In women, only wheat and oats seemed to reduce the risk of diabetes. But for men, all whole grains—wheat, rye and oats—were linked to a lower risk of the blood sugar disorder. Kyro said this difference may just be a statistical anomaly because fewer women developed diabetes.

She added that all whole-grain products can be recommended for preventing type 2 diabetes in both men and women.

Exactly how whole grains help prevent type 2 diabetes isn’t clear from this study. Because it’s an observational study, it isn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Still, the scientists suspect that there may be several reasons why whole grains could be protective, including reduced blood sugar secretion after a meal.

Registered dietician Samantha Heller said the findings fall in line with previous research.

“People who consume whole grains have lower risks of type 2 diabetes, as well as inflammation, coronary heart disease and cancer,” she said. In addition, a diet including whole grains also helps with weight management and may improve digestive health.

“Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein and phytonutrients, all of which play important roles in maintaining a healthy body. Dietary fiber decreases insulin resistance, after-meal blood sugar spikes and decreases inflammation, all of which may contribute to its beneficial effects on type 2 diabetes,” Heller explained. (Phytonutrients are nutrients from plant sources.)

Kyro said one serving of whole grain contained 16 grams of whole grain. That can vary depending on the type or brand of a product, but 16 grams is approximately one slice of whole-grain bread, she said.

Heller said that U.S. dietary guidelines recommend three to four servings of whole grains a day. A serving is one slice of bread, one-cup of ready-to-eat cereal or 1/2-cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal. She said those recommendations are for people who are sedentary. If you’re more active, you may need more grains each day.

Findings from the study were published in the September issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

Explore further

Whole grains one of the most important food groups for preventing type 2 diabetes More information: Cecilie Kyro, Ph.D., post-doctoral researcher, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., NYU Langone Health, New York City; September 2018, The Journal of Nutrition

Read more about preventing type 2 diabetes from the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Journal information: Journal of Nutrition

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Citation: Want to avoid type 2 diabetes? Eat more whole grains (2018, September 11) retrieved 2 February 2020 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Should You Worry About Wheat?

Key points—and counterpoints

Claim: Most grains are bad, but modern wheat is the worst because it has been altered over the years via selective breeding and is now a virtual “Frankengrain.” It is loaded with amylopectin A (a starch unique to wheat), which is “worse than table sugar,” Dr. Davis says, boosting blood sugar dramatically and stimulating appetite. Modern wheat also contains other components with adverse effects, and its gluten, a protein, is more likely to trigger reactions than that in older wheat.

Fact: For well over a century, food scientists have developed hybrid varieties of wheat to be sturdier and have higher yields, better quality and greater resistance to disease and insects. That’s true of most food crops. There’s no clinical evidence that differences between today’s wheat and older varieties have adverse effects on our health. It’s all supposition on Dr. Davis’s part, and feeds into pervasive fears of modern agricultural methods. We think this particular fear is unfounded.

Claim: Wheat is the main culprit behind the obesity epidemic.

Fact: Wheat is a staple in most parts of the world, and there’s little or no correlation between regional intakes (as a proportion of daily calories) and rates of obesity. Per capita wheat consumption in the U.S. has actually dropped since 2000, but there’s no sign that that is slowing the expansion of our waistlines.

In fact, a century ago Americans ate much more wheat than we do today, and very few were obese (granted, diets and lifestyles differed in many ways then). In any case, the obesity epidemic certainly can’t be attributed to any single factor.

What about Dr. Davis’s claims that when he told his patients to avoid wheat they lost weight and become healthier? As with nearly all diet books, this is only anecdotal evidence, but it’s not surprising. Had he told his patients to cut out all meat or all sugary snacks, for instance, they might have done as well or better. Nearly all diets work for a while, especially in supervised settings, usually by getting people to avoid whole categories of foods and thus tricking them into cutting calories. Keep in mind, too, that Dr. Davis basically recommends a low-carb diet, and well-designed studies have found that such diets work no better than other diets in the long term.

Claim: Wheat has played an outsized role in surging rates of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic disorders.

Fact: There’s no evidence that wheat bears special blame for these. Blood sugar does rise after eating bread, pasta and other wheat products. But that’s true of any foods containing carbohydrates—even those in gluten-free products—especially if the grains are refined.

The effect of carbohydrate-rich foods on blood sugar, which is ranked by the “glycemic index” (GI), depends on many factors, including how much fiber is in the food, how the food is processed and prepared and what else is in the meal. Wheat ranks moderately high on the GI. But research looking at the effect of a high-GI diet on weight control and the risk of diabetes and heart disease has had inconsistent results.

Refined wheat, like other starchy or sugary foods, can also have adverse effects on blood cholesterol and triglycerides—for instance, increasing levels of the small, dense LDL cholesterol particles that are most damaging. To avoid this, you needn’t avoid all wheat or go on a very-low-carb diet. Just choose healthier wheat products that are minimally refined or unrefined, and don’t go overboard.

Claim: Whole wheat isn’t much better than refined wheat, so overweight people and those with chronic diseases should avoid it as well.

Fact: Many studies have linked higher intakes of whole grains, including whole wheat, with a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as improvements in blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar control. Other studies have found that whole wheat can help people control their weight and/or lose body fat, especially when they eat it in place of refined-wheat products. Thus, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and most nutrition experts recommend foods made from 100 percent whole grains.

Bottom line: Unless you have celiac disease or another type of gluten intolerance or sensitivity, there’s no reason to avoid wheat. No doubt many Americans eat too much refined wheat, usually in the form of cakes, cookies, pizza and other foods loaded with added sugar and/or fat (which can double or triple the calorie count), as well as lots of sodium.

Cutting down on such wheat products can help people lose weight and improve their overall diet, provided they substitute lower-calorie foods. But 100 percent whole-wheat and other whole-grain products can fit well into a healthy diet, as can many refined-wheat dishes that include nutritious ingredients, such as pasta with vegetables. As with so many dietary matters, moderation is the key.

Celiac Disease: When to Avoid Wheat

There is one very good reason to avoid wheat: if you have celiac disease, also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy or nontropical sprue. Celiac disease has become more common in the past 50 years for largely unknown reasons.

Will Eating a Gluten Free Diet Be Good if I Have Diabetes, Graves’, or Heart Disease?

No matter what ails you, your health may improve when you replace wheat (and foods that contain gluten) with less processed grains, fruits, vegetables and heart-healthy types of protein.

Three years ago, Felice Caldarella, MD, an endocrinologist from Clinton, NJ, was suffering from frequent digestive distress. Despite being healthy, he alternated between having diarrhea and constipation, often feeling bloated, and struggling to stay focused. His symptoms were most pronounced on the weekends when he would typically have a couple of beers. Wondering if it might be something in his diet, he decided to try eliminating wheat to see whether it might make a difference.

Going Wheat-Free and Avoiding Gluten Can Restore a Sense of Wellbeing

Beer, which contains wheat, was first to go. Dr. Caldarella also stopped eating anything else that contained wheat or gluten (a protein found in many grains, including wheat, rye, and barley), including salad dressings and soy sauce. Within two weeks, his gastrointestinal symptoms disappeared. “I am back to feeling normal and I am symptom-free,” he says.

Millions of Americans like Dr. Caldarella have made the decision to eliminate gluten-containing foods from their diet even though they do not have celiac disease. In fact, the number of people in the US without celiac disease who appear to suffer from a wheat-based intolerance have eliminated gluten-based foods from their diet has grown to the millions. 1

These individuals often experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and a “foggy mind” but they don’t test positive a digestive disorder. When eliminating wheat-based foods from the diet resolves their symptoms, these people may assume (or be told) they have either non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NSWS).

However, scientists are divided over the true diagnosis in so many individuals who have decided on their own to swear off wheat, says Jane Varney, PhD, a research dietitian in the Department of Gastroenterology, Central Clinical School, at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Modern Wheat Has Evolved from the Wheat Grown 50 Years Ago

“While some scientists think that many of these individuals are experiencing a reaction to gluten, others question the diagnosis of NCGS/NCWS and think that other components in wheat (namely, the FODMAPs, which is the acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Monosaccharides and Polyols, may be triggering GI symptoms and that often times this group of individuals is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),” Dr. Varney says.

A sensitivity to wheat or foods that have gluten may develop, but wheat contains more than one potential culprit that can bring on bothersome gastrointestinal symptoms, says Amy Hess-Fischl, a program coordinator for the Teen and Adolescent Diabetes Transition Program at the University of Chicago’s Kovler Diabetes Center. In addition to gluten, wheat contains other proteins and carbohydrates that may play a role in triggering GI distress in susceptible individuals. “It does seem that experts cannot pinpoint the one reason for this influx of symptoms,” says Ms. Hess-Fischl.

Wheat is being bred differently today than it was years ago, says Victoria Maizes, MD, executive director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson, Arizona, and it’s much higher in gluten than it once was. “Also, we used to ferment bread dough very slowly, which breaks down gluten,” she says. “but now it’s common to use a rapid rising yeast, and so the dough is not fermented overnight.”

Some research shows that modern forms of gluten are more difficult for the body to digest than the grains raised four to seven decades ago, says Melanie Boehmer, RD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “In essence, what has happened is that modern processing techniques isolate the wheat proteins (gluten) and add them to products like semolina pasta without the enzymes that naturally occur with them that are needed to help our bodies break them down during digestion,” she says.

Consider Using FODMAPs as a Guide to Better GI Health

Wheat products tend to be high in certain FODMAPs, Dr. Varney explains. In particular, the FODMAPs known as fructans and GOS (galactooligosaccharides found in legumes and dried beans, soy milk, and nuts) can cause digestive issues in people with IBS. “These small carbohydrates move slowly through the small intestine, attracting water along the way,” she says. “Some pass undigested into the large intestine, where they are fermented by gut bacteria, producing gas. The increased water and gas in the intestine can cause the intestinal wall to stretch and expand, causing pain,” she says.

A low FODMAP diet may be prescribed for individuals who have irritable bowel syndrome, Varney says. Reducing FODMAPs in the diet can help in two ways, she explains. Choosing diet reduces water movement into the small intestine and reduces gas production from the bacterial fermentation of FODMAPs, she says. And this helps reduce IBS symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating and distention, diarrhea, and possibly constipation, according to Dr. Varney.

Evaluating the low FODMAP diet has also been trialed in women with endometriosis, athletes who have GI symptoms during strenuous exercise, nursing mothers of infants who have colic, and people with have other functional gastrointestinal disorders. Initial research suggests it may also be helpful to consider avoiding FODMAPs to lessen IBS-type symptoms, says Dr. Varney.

For those who want to try to eliminate wheat or gluten from the diet, start by talking to a doctor, she says. There is a range of conditions that may be contributing to gastrointestinal symptoms and it is important that these are ruled out and a diagnosis is made before dietary modifications are commenced, she says.

Going gluten-free is more than just cutting out gluten, Boehmer says. “It’s a lifestyle change and involves more than just buying gluten-free products at the supermarket,” she says. She recommends working with a registered dietitian who will help you create a plan that replaces sources of gluten with other healthy carbohydrates and high-fiber goods. “If going gluten-free helps you to eat more whole, single-ingredient foods like fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and lean protein sources, then you are doing it right,” says Dr. Varney.

Also, gluten-free foods are not necessarily healthy, Dr. Maizes says. Flours that are made with white rice and tapioca may be gluten-free, for instance, but they can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and are not a good source of nutrients. “There is a huge food industry now producing gluten-free foods,” she explains. “Some are probably healthy but most of them are not.”

What’re the Differences Between Wheat and Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat as well as rye and barley. Wheat-free doesn’t necessarily mean gluten-free. Commercially-brewed beer is a good example because it is often made from barley. However, barley may be present, or hidden, in foods because it used as a sweetener or malt flavoring, so an oat cookie—oats do not contain gluten—that have barley malt would be wheat-free but not gluten-free. Spelt, a form of wheat that is considered to have less gluten than wheat but isn’t completely gluten-free.

Most of our flour, specifically wheat flour, has been milled, processed and bleached to remove any valued nutrients most especially dietary fiber. And then it’s used as the base for prepared goods like cookies, cake, brownies, and candy. What else do all of these baked goods have in common: sugar, another reason to avoid wheat-based foods and those containing gluten.

The question becomes one of physical response: do you need to avoid gluten or are you just better off avoiding wheat and flour-based foods to improve your overall diet, benefit from easier weight loss, and establish a much healthier way of eating. This is particularly relevant if you have diabetes (even prediabetes or gestational diabetes), seek cardiovascular health, have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or thyroid disease.

Updated on: 06/21/18 Continue Reading Best Diet for Weight Loss, Your Choice: Low Carb vs Low Fat View Sources

  1. Kasarda DD. Can an Increase in Celiac Disease Be Attributed to an Increase in the Gluten Content of Wheat as a Consequence of Wheat Breeding? J Agric Food Chem. 2013; 61(6):1155–1159.
  2. Choung RS, Unalp-Arida A, Fuhl CE, et al. Less hidden celiac disease but increased gluten avoidance without a diagnosis in the United States. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2017;92(1):30-38.

  3. Celiac Disease Foundation Non-celiac wheat sensitivity. Available at: Accessed June 9, 2018.

  4. Steele EM, Baraldi LG, da Costa Louzada ML, Moubarac JC, Mozaffarian D, Monteir CA. Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2016;6:e009892.

Are gluten free diets good for diabetes?

Both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are autoimmune conditions. People with celiac disease are at an increased risk of other immune diseases, including type 1 diabetes.

Researchers estimate that up to 19.7% of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease.

Having celiac disease can make diabetes symptoms more difficult to manage. This is because eating gluten causes inflammation in the gut lining, which affects how the gut absorbs food.

If a person has celiac disease or a nonceliac gluten sensitivity, they should avoid foods that contain gluten. This applies to people with and without diabetes. People with celiac disease must check all foods and medications for gluten, because some contain hidden gluten, for example, as a stabilizer.

Scientists are still debating how eating gluten affects people with type 1 diabetes who do not have celiac disease.

The possible link between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease has opened up the discussion among researchers about the effects of a gluten free diet on how diabetes affects the body:

  • Some research suggests that people with both celiac disease and diabetes have lower cholesterol levels, lower glycated hemoglobin values, and lower rates of eye and kidney diseases. Other studies seem to contradict these findings.
  • A group of researchers noticed that people with diabetes and celiac disease who were following a gluten free diet had lower blood pressure compared with people living with only diabetes.

Children and infants

Doctors usually diagnose type 1 diabetes in children before the signs and symptoms of celiac disease start. Fewer than 10% of children with type 1 diabetes will experience typical celiac disease symptoms.

Doctors will test children with type 1 diabetes for celiac disease once or twice a year.

One small study suggests that a gluten free diet could benefit children with type 1 diabetes. In one study, children who followed a gluten free diet for 12 months after receiving a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes saw improvements in glycated hemoglobin, or hemoglobin A1c levels, which are measures of diabetes control. However, researchers need to do more studies to confirm this.

In another study, infants who consumed gluten before 3 months or after 6 months of age had an increased incidence of type 1 diabetes.


According to a review study, following a gluten free diet during pregnancy could help prevent type 1 diabetes in the baby. Other studies have shown no association between the mother’s diet and the risk of type 1 diabetes in their children. Scientists need to carry out further research.


Quinoa is an extremely nutritious whole grain (more correctly, botanically speaking it is a seed), labeled by many a nutritionist as a “superfood.”

Quinoa is endemic to the Andes mountain range of South America, and has been an important crop for indigenous people there for several thousands of years. The Incas cultivated quinoa, and their modern descendants, the Quechua and Aymara cultures, continue to incorporate it as an essential part of their traditional diets, especially in hearty soups that are common in these often colder regions. There are more than 100 varieties of Quinoa, though creamy white, red and black quinoa are the most frequently consumed nowadays.

Quinoa is extremely high in dietary fiber and plant protein. It is also rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium. And for those concerned about such a thing, quinoa also happens to be free of gluten.

The health benefits of quinoa appear to be abundant, though much research is left to be done on this recently “discovered” seed by scientists. Quinoa helps with appetite control (high fiber and protein typically translate to greater and longer “satiation”), which can help in preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes and encouraging weight-loss, and has a relatively low (for classified grains) glycemic index score of 53. Research has also shown Quinoa and other Andean “grains” to be useful in managing blood sugar for existing diabetics.

Of course any traditional indigenous person from the Andes would consider researching this obviously nutritious crop, which the Inca called the “Mother Grain,” an unnecessary effort. Many of the health conditions and chronic diseases that quinoa is now believed to help prevent or alleviate did not exist for the indigenous people of the Andes, who consumed traditional diets until recently. Through the arrival to their beautiful lands of “Western diets” full of processed foods and drinks, and lifestyles full of stress and sedentarism, a phenomenon known as the “Nutrition Transition” took and is taking place, and incidence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes are steadily rising.

In the Andes, quinoa is almost always harvested by hand. This is due to the inhomogeneous maturing of the quinoa seeds within each plant, so hand-selecting helps preserve the maximum number of seeds and optimal maturity. With quinoa’s increasing popularity as a “superfood,” it has begun to be harvested more industrially in the United States, where specific species that are more conducive to machine harvesting are the most commonly planted.

Resources and Further Reading

A study in the “Journal of Medicinal Food” showed quinoa and other traditional Andean grains to be useful in managing blood sugar and hypertension:

Good general information about quinoa:

Researchers in Canada have found new evidence that buckwheat, a grain used in making pancakes, may be beneficial in the management of diabetes.

In a controlled study, they showed that extracts of the seed lowered blood glucose levels by 12 per cent to 19 per cent when fed to diabetic rats. The report follows World Diabetes Day last week, with campaigns from the World Health Organisation and International Diabetes Federation aiming to focus on prevention of the disease, rising dramatically in the developed world.

The study may lead to new uses of the grain as a dietary supplement or functional food to help people with diabetes and others with conditions involving elevated glucose, the researchers claim. Their findings will appear in the 3 December issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​.

“With diabetes on the rise, incorporation of buckwheat into the diet could help provide a safe, easy and inexpensive way to lower glucose levels and reduce the risk of complications associated with the disease, including heart, nerve and kidney problems,”​ said study leader Carla G. Taylor, an associate professor in the Department of Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba in Canada. “Buckwheat won’t cure diabetes, but we’d like to evaluate its inclusion in food products as a management aid.”​

However until similar studies are done on humans with diabetes, no one knows exactly how much buckwheat – in flour or extract form – must be eaten in order to obtain a beneficial effect on glucose levels, Taylor said.

Buckwheat and Diabetes Guide

Buckwheat is a type of cereal which is mainly grown on mountainous districts. It has proven to be a pretty healthy ingredient often used to make for instance buckwheat tea. In flour form it’s often used to make pancakes and buckwheat noodles.

Yes, it’s not going to beat green tea when it comes to anti-oxidants, but still it has plenty of it. The mean feature though is that buckwheat is said to help against diabetes. Our Teasenz team has therefore read through lots of research articles to understand the state of current research on this top and find the truth about such claims.

Studies on Buckwheat and Diabetes

One of the earlier review studies in this field was published in 2001 in the Critical Reviews in Food and Nutrition Journal.

This review study states that experiments both performed on animals and humans show that buckwheat flour could improve diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and constipation.

The most often cited article is one that is published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry in 2003. Finding suggest that buckwheat concentrate, which contains a high amount of d-CI, could lower glucose concentrations in rats. To be more specific diabetic rats that where fed with buckwheat had 12-19% lower blood sugar levels than diabetic rats fed with a fake placebo.

What should be mentioned is that the rats in the study suffered from type 1 diabetes, though researchers expect similar results with type 2 diabetic rats.

Later research studies show similar results. One study that we found particularly interesting was one that was published in 2007 in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology. 3542 Mongolians joined this study measuring hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in relation to life time consumption of buckwheat seeds as a staple food.

The group that who consumed buckwheat seeds as a staple food recorded an age-adjusted prevalence rate of hyperglycaemia of 1.56%, while the other group reported a rate of 7.70%. This results was found to be statistically significant. Therefore, the researchers conclude that buckwheat consumption could prevent against hyperglycemia.

Buckwheat Tea for Diabetes

If you’re comfortable with the studies you might want to make buckwheat part of your daily diet. No note that there’s been a few side effects reported which include the following:

  • Some people allergic to rice, might also be allergic to buckwheat.
  • It might negatively change blood sugar levels during and after surgery. It’s therefore recommended not to consume buckwheat 2 weeks before the surgery.

If the above doesn’t apply for you, then you might want to try out some Himalayan buckwheat tea as a way to get familiar with flavor and enjoy a gluten free drink. Drinking it as a tea is also a ‘light’ way to see how your body reacts to it. Try to find it locally or order it in the Teasenz online store under the category Herbal Teas.

If it feels good and you love the nutty and grain like flavor, then check out the next paragraph to learn about different kinds of food you can cook with buckwheat!

Other Food you can make with Buckwheat

In this article we won’t intent to provide detailed recipes. For that you might be better of looking on sites that specialize in cooking. However, after some research we’ve found the following dishes that are the most popular online, and perhaps great to keep your blood sugar levels in balance:

  • Buckwheat soba noodles (hot & cold)
  • Soba chicken
  • Buckwheat pancakes
  • Bread and more.

See some curated pictures below from some:

Muffin (Source: The Healthy Foodie)

Chocolate cookies (Source: The View From The Great Island)

Granola (Source: James Ransom/Food52)

#Tea recipe Posted in: Tea Health Benefits

BuckWheat – Nutritional & Medicinal Benefits

Have you heard about pseudo cereal? Pseudo cereal is non-grasses which can be used as normal cereals while true cereals are grasses. Their seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals. In recent times, Pseudo cereals – amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat have gained worldwide importance. All three pseudo cereals are nutritious and can contribute positively to human health. Buckwheat is one of these grains that is receiving increasing attention worldwide, but is relatively ignored in India.

Between the 17th– 19th centuries, it was very popular, but as wheat became popular during the 20th century in western countries, it was neglected. Buckwheat seeds are small, silvery grey to brown or black in color, irregularly shaped and have four triangular surfaces. There are many varieties, but nine have agricultural and nutritional value.

Nutritional value:

Buckwheat is classified as a pseudo-cereal because of the similarity to conventional cereals in its use and chemical composition. It has different names n different countries. China (tuanqiaomai in Mandarin), Bhutan (jare or bjo), Pakistan (jawas), Nepal (mite phapar), France (sarrasin/ble noir), Japan (soba). Although the name similar to wheat, it bears no relation as the structure and characteristics of buckwheat grain are very different from those of wheat grains.

Table 1. Composition of Buckwheat

Component/Nutrient Gms/100gms Whole Buckwheat groats Buckwheat flour Buckwheat bran
Starch 55.0 70-75 1.8
Soluble Carbohydrate 2.0 NA 0.6
Total Dietary Fibre 7 2-2.4 4
Lipid 4 1-3 1.1
Protein 8.5-18.9 6-10 3.6

Buckwheat’s nutritional value appears to be higher than other cereals. Its protein content is similar to millets and higher than rice. Protein content in buckwheat flour ranges from 8.5% to 18.9%(g), depending on the variety. In animal feeding studies, buckwheat was found to compare well in terms of promoting growth of the animals. It has good source of dietary fibre, B-Vitamins than any other cereals. It also has a higher iron, copper and magnesium content than wheat.

Uses of Buckwheat:

Buckwheat flour has been used in the manufacture of bread, cookies, pancakes, macaroni. In Japan, it is used in soba noodles, in France for pancakes, in Russia for porridge called “kasha” and in India, to make rotis, puris or khichdi during fast. Buckwheat has also been used in pastries, multigrain pasta, energy bars, cereals, waffles, bagels and as a meat extender.

Besides the grain, the fresh leaves can be used as food and dried for medicinal purpose. One of the important uses is in gluten-free diets for patients with celiac disease (intestinal problem). Honey from buckwheat flowers has upto 20 times more antioxidants than any other honey. In Japan and Korea, the flowering buckwheat plant is dried and used as a natural food colourant in ice creams.

Medicinal benefits of Buckwheat:

In many countries, buckwheat has been used in traditional medicine. In European countries, the leaf tea/buckwheat herb tea is used to treat legoedemain patients with chronic venous insufficiency. It has been tried on diabetic patients with retinopathy.

Buckwheat for Diabetics:

Buckwheat has low glycemic index. There is considerable interest in some compounds present in buckwheat. In China, tartary buckwheat is used to alleviate diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and gallstones. In Taiwan, buckwheat has shown to have beneficial effects in controlling blood sugar and reducing insulin resistance in experimental animals. Japanese buckwheat have been found to have the potential to reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance, becoming overweight and of having excess of potentially pathogenic bacteria. In one study, it was shown that a single dose of buckwheat extract could keep the blood glucose level lowered by 20% for an extended period of time.

Other health benefits:

The protein and its dietary fibre may be useful for relieving constipation and there are suggestions that it could protect against development of colon cancer. It is also a good source of lignans that are considered to have protective effect against harmone related cancers.

However, one needs to use some caution when trying new foods. Although buckwheat is being increasingly using in gourmet dishes and is touted to be gluten-free, in rare cases, buckwheat allergy may occur. There are reports of allergy mostly in those who have gluten intolerance.

Written By

Prof. Shobha A Udipi,Senior Nutritionist, PFNDAI

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