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Why Quinoa Is the Perfect Food for Diabetics

Why Quinoa Is the Perfect Food for Diabetics

Quinoa has only recently begun to rise in popularity in the United States but it is already made a name for itself as a great source of nutrition.  Compared to other grains, quinoa has more protein, antioxidants, minerals and fiber.  Quinoa is also gluten free, making it the perfect food for people who are sensitive to gluten.  On top of that, it has recently been shown as a good nutrition source for diabetics and can be used as a healthy way to maintain blood sugar levels.

What is Quinoa?

While it may be new to supermarkets in your area, quinoa has been a staple of the South American diet for centuries dating all the way back to the time of the Incas.  It is native to the Andes Mountains and is able to survive harsh conditions.  Quinoa is eaten like a grain with the Incas referring to it as “the mother of all grains”, but it is actually a seed.

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There are currently 120 different known variations of the seed, but the most popular are the white, red and black quinoa making these three varieties the types you will most likely see in your local grocery store.

Research into the benefits of quinoa is relatively knew compared to research in other foods and it is only in the last thirty years that researchers have begun to discover the health benefits of this little seed.  While more research is needed, it is currently believed that adding quinoa to your diet can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and it is has also been shown to provide many benefits to people suffering from diabetes as well.

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How Quinoa Can Impact Blood Sugar

One of the keys to living a healthy life with diabetes is managing and controlling your diet.  Quinoa is a great choice for diabetes because it is a whole grain, one of the key components of a healthy diabetic diet along with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and unsaturated fats.

Foods that are high on the glycemic index will raise your blood sugar and could make it difficult to control.  Quinoa, however, is very low on the glycemic index meaning it won’t cause a spike in blood sugar when eaten.

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While most grains don’t have the amino acids necessary to form a protein, quinoa has enough present to be considered a complete protein.  Quinoa is also a great fiber source that doesn’t impact blood sugar that could help you maintain proper body weight to prevent other chronic conditions associated with diabetes.

Easy Ways to Prepare Quinoa

Quinoa is prepared in water and cooked in a similar fashion to rice.  When preparing the dish, place one cup of uncooked quinoa and 2 cups of water into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Once the water is boiling reduce the heat and simmer the quinoa until most of the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.  In most cases, this usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

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Quinoa can also be used as a healthy addition to other types of dishes as well.  Much like rice, you can add it to soups, stews or chili to give your dish an extra touch that is not only healthy but quite tasty as well.

With all of the good things we keep hearing about quinoa, it’s a wonder that anyone still uses rice anymore.  For diabetics, it is the perfect grain that is built for a healthy diabetic diet.  Incorporating this little seed into your diet can help you control your blood sugar while also maintaining a healthy weight to prevent many of the secondary problems that are caused by diabetes.

Featured photo credit: By Vi..Cult… (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons via upload.wikimedia.org

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Brian Wu

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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