Researchers in Canada have found new evidence that buckwheat, a grain used in making pancakes and soba noodles, 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% to 19% when fed to diabetic rats. 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.
“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 study leader Carla G. Taylor, PhD of the University of Manitoba. “Buckwheat won’t cure diabetes, but we’d like to evaluate its inclusion in food products as a management aid.”
Researchers studied rat models of Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent), which is characterized by a lack of insulin, a hormone needed by cells to utilize glucose properly. Under controlled conditions, the rats were given a single dose of either buckwheat extract or a placebo and their glucose levels were measured. Blood glucose concentrations were reduced by 12% to 19% in the rats that were fed the extract, while no glucose reduction was observed in the rats that received the placebo. Based on studies by others, the active component in buckwheat responsible for lowering blood glucose appears to be chiro-inositol, they say.
American Chemical Society, Nov 17, 2003