Have you ever tried buckwheat pancakes? Worried that all that flour and syrup will spike your blood sugar? Well, here’s some health advice: make your pancakes from buckwheat flour and you might actually be normalizing your blood sugar rather than the opposite. Researchers have discovered that special nutrients in buckwheat may contribute to blood sugar control. Buckwheat bran is an important natural source of quercetin and isoquercetin. Quercetin and isoquercetin are both powerful “a-glucosidase inhibitors” — meaning they prevent the digestion of carbohydrates and reduce their impact on blood sugar.
A Chinese research team studied the blood-sugar-lowering effect of isoquercetin in mice with type 2 diabetes. Isoquercetin was administrated at doses of 50, 100 and 200 milligrams/kilogram (mg/kg) for 35 days. They found that fasting blood glucose concentration was decreased with the 200 mg/kg group the most efficiently compared with a diabetic control group. As an added bonus, there was a significant decrease in triglycerides and total cholesterol.
Glucose tolerance was improved, and the immune-reaction of pancreatic islet beta cells (beta cells store and release insulin) was boosted. The research team concluded that isoquercetin helped regulate blood glucose level and lipids. They suggested that isoquercetin may be useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Buckwheat is often sold as flour. It is darker in color than wheat flour and has a distinctive nutty taste. You can find buckwheat included in a variety of types of flour mixes, like pancake and waffle mix. You can also buy plain buckwheat for making bread if you are allergic to gluten.
You might think that buckwheat is a cereal grain, but it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb. This is one of the reasons for its gluten-free status amongst the grains.
Look for buckwheat in whole or cracked form for use in breakfast cereals or to add some texture (and isoquercetin!) to breads and other baked products. You can even buy cookies and other baked snacks on the go — many specialty stores now have foods made from buckwheat flour to cater to those with gluten allergies.
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