Buckwheat and Blood Sugar: Plant found to have benefits in diabetes

Buckwheat may be beneficial in the management of diabetes, say researchers from the University of Manitoba. They found that extracts of the seed lowered blood sugar levels by up to 19% when fed to diabetic rats. The Canadian researchers say diabetics should consider including the grain in their diet, or taking dietary supplements.

Lead researcher Dr Carla Taylor said: “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. However, Dr Taylor said human studies were needed to determine how much buckwheat – in flour or extract form – must be eaten to obtain a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.

The researchers studied rats with Type 1 diabetes, caused by a lack of the hormone insulin, which is needed to break down sugar in the blood. The rats were given a single dose of buckwheat extract or a placebo preparation. A key component of buckwheat, chiro-inositol, is thought to be responsible for the plant’s blood sugar-regulating effect. It has been shown in other studies to play a significant role in glucose metabolism.

Although the research concentrated on Type 1 diabetes, the researchers believe that buckwheat will have a similar glucose-lowering effect when given to rats with the Type 2 form of the condition. Type 2 diabetes is more common and is caused by a failure of the body’s cells to respond properly to insulin.

BBC News, Nov 19, 2003