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October 30, 2023
May 20, 2024
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Quinoa, hailed as an ancient grain, has garnered significant attention in the realm of health-conscious diets. Beyond its rich history and versatile culinary applications, quinoa offers a unique advantage to individuals monitoring their blood sugar levels. While its carbohydrate content might raise concerns, studies have shown that quinoa boasts a low glycemic index, making it a favorable option for those managing diabetes. 

Moreover, quinoa stands out for its robust nutrient profile, encompassing essential amino acids, fiber, and minerals, all contributing to its potential role in promoting overall wellness and blood sugar regulation. Quinoa remains a valuable source of nutrients and may hold promise in diversified diet plans for individuals with diabetes.

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Glycemic Index Table

Based on the given serving size of 100g, the nutritional values for quinoa are as follows:

Glycemic Index: The glycemic index of quinoa is estimated to be around 53, which is considered to be relatively low.¹ This suggests that quinoa has a moderate effect on blood sugar levels, making it a favorable option for individuals with diabetes or those concerned about blood sugar control. Variations in the glycemic index due to cooking methods are minimal, as quinoa generally retains its low glycemic index regardless of preparation techniques.

Carbohydrate per Serving: With a serving size of 100g, quinoa contains approximately 21.3 grams of carbohydrates.² This moderate carbohydrate content, in conjunction with its low glycemic index, implies that quinoa can be included in balanced diets without causing significant spikes in blood sugar levels.

Glycemic Load per Serving: Calculated using the formula (glycemic index multiplied by the amount of carbohydrate per serving divided by 100), the glycemic load (GL) of 100g of quinoa is around 11.3. This moderate GL further indicates that quinoa can be a suitable component of a well-managed diet for individuals concerned about their blood sugar levels.

Understanding the glycemic index of a food is crucial in comprehending how it affects blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic index tend to cause a slower and lower rise in blood sugar levels compared to those with a high glycemic index. This characteristic is beneficial for managing blood sugar levels and is especially relevant for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day. While cooking methods might influence some foods' overall glycemic response, quinoa remains a favorable option due to its consistently low glycemic index across various cooking techniques.

Glycemic Index

53

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

21.3 g

GL per Serving

11.00

Nutritional Facts

Quinoa is renowned for its exceptional nutritional profile, encompassing an array of essential vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. Notably, it is recognized as a complete protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids necessary for human nutrition. Moreover, quinoa is a rich source of dietary fiber, contributing to improved digestive health and prolonged satiety. Quinoa serves as an excellent dietary source for various nutrients, including manganese, phosphorus, and folate, highlighting its potential role in supporting overall health and well-being.²

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of quinoa.²

Calories

120 kcal

Carbs

21.3 g

Protein

4.4 g

Fiber

2.8 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Vitamins

B12 (0 µg), B6 (0.12 mg).

Sodium

7 mg

Total Fat

1.92 g

Is Quinoa Good for Weight Loss?

Quinoa is often regarded as a beneficial component of weight loss diets due to its high fiber content and nutrient density, which can contribute to increased satiety and prolonged feelings of fullness. Additionally, quinoa is considered a low-energy-dense food, meaning it provides fewer calories per gram compared to many other grains, making it an ideal choice for individuals aiming to manage their weight. Moreover, the presence of essential amino acids in quinoa can support muscle development and maintenance during weight loss efforts, promoting a healthy body composition. 

While incorporating quinoa into a balanced diet may support weight loss goals, it is crucial to maintain overall caloric intake and engage in regular physical activity for effective weight management. For comprehensive guidance on weight loss strategies, consulting reputable health and nutrition professionals or registered dietitians is highly recommended.

Is Quinoa Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Quinoa is generally considered a safe and beneficial food option for individuals with diabetes due to its relatively low glycemic index and rich nutritional content. Studies have indicated that incorporating quinoa into the diets of individuals with diabetes can contribute to better glycemic control, improved insulin sensitivity, and enhanced overall metabolic health. The high fiber content of quinoa is particularly advantageous for individuals with diabetes as it can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve digestive health. 

However, portion control and overall dietary balance remain essential factors for individuals living with diabetes and wishing to incorporate quinoa into their meal plans. It is crucial for individuals with diabetes to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable dietary choices based on their specific health needs and requirements. For more comprehensive guidance, consulting reputable medical sources, dietitians, or endocrinologists is highly recommended.

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Allergies

Allergies to quinoa, while relatively rare, have been reported in some individuals. Symptoms of a quinoa allergy may include itching, hives, digestive disturbances, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. In particular, individuals with a known sensitivity to other grains, such as wheat or gluten, may be at a higher risk of experiencing an allergic reaction to quinoa. 

Understanding the potential for allergic responses is crucial, and individuals with known grain allergies should exercise caution when introducing quinoa into their diet. While quinoa is generally considered a nutritious and beneficial food, it is essential to be aware of the possibility of allergic reactions in certain individuals. For more information on this topic, it is advisable to consult reputable medical sources or allergists.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Quinoa Spike Insulin?

No, quinoa does not spike insulin levels. In fact, quinoa has a low glycemic index, which means it is digested slowly and does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This makes it a good option for people with diabetes or those trying to manage their blood sugar levels. Additionally, quinoa is high in fiber and protein, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote feelings of fullness.

Is Quinoa Low Glycemic?

Yes, quinoa is considered a low glycemic index food, with a glycemic index of around 53. This means it is less likely to cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels compared to high glycemic index foods.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Quinoa?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat quinoa as it is a low glycemic index food that can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, portion control is important as it is still a carbohydrate-rich food. Consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended.

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References

  1. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  2. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - Quinoa, cooked. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168917/nutrients

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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