Buckwheat May Help Manage Diabetes
Grain May Aid in Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 21, 2003 -- A hearty grain commonly found in pancakes and
soba noodles may help people with diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar
New research shows that the extract of buckwheat lowered
meal-related blood sugar levels by 12%-19% when given to rats bred to have
Researchers say if further studies confirm these results,
buckwheat may be used as a nutritional supplement or incorporated as a food
into the diets of people with diabetes to help manage the disease.
"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," says researcher Carla G.
Taylor, PhD, associate professor in the department of human nutritional
sciences at the University of Manitoba in Canada, in a news release.
"Buckwheat won't cure diabetes, but we'd like to evaluate
its inclusion in food products as a management aid," says Taylor.
Buckwheat Lowers Blood Sugar
In the study, published in the Dec. 3 issue of the Journal
of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers compared the effects of a
single dose of buckwheat extract or a placebo on blood sugar levels in about 40
The rats were bred to have type 1 diabetes, which is the less
common form of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes (previously known as
insulin-dependent diabetes) do not produce the hormone insulin needed to
maintain normal blood sugar levels and are treated with daily insulin
Researchers found that diabetic rats fed buckwheat extract
prior to eating a meal containing sugar had blood sugar levels 12%-19% lower
than the diabetic rats fed the placebo, which suggests that the extract can
lower blood sugar levels after a meal.
Although the rats were bred to have type 1 diabetes,
researchers say buckwheat may have a similar beneficial effect in animals with
type 2 diabetes, and they plan to test that theory next. Type 2 diabetes is the
most common form of diabetes and occurs when the body is unable to properly
respond to insulin.
Researchers say the active ingredient in buckwheat thought to
be responsible for the blood sugar lowering effects is chiro-inositol. This
compound is found in high levels in buckwheat and rarely found in other