Their newly published research in Current Developments in Nutrition shows that eating even a small amount of quinoa every day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In the study, a group of overweight and obese people who ate 50 grams (about 4½ tablespoons) of quinoa as part of their normal diet had significantly lower levels of serum triglycerides after 12 weeks. Triglycerides, measured as part of a lipid profile test, are a type of fat or lipid linked to heart disease.
The group also lowered their risk of metabolic syndrome by 70 per cent. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of disorders known to increase risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
“There’s been a lot of hype surrounding quinoa, but until now there’s been no real evidence about whether quinoa is good for our health,” said Diana Navarro-Perez, who conducted the research along with La Trobe colleagues Dr Markandeya Jois, Dr Jessica Radcliffe and Dr Audrey Tierney.
“Previous studies on the health benefits of quinoa have been limited to animal studies, people diagnosed with coeliac disease and post-menopausal women.
“Whether quinoa is a superfood is still up for debate, but we can now confidently say it does deliver health benefits,” she said.
A second group of overweight and obese people who took part in the study ate 25 grams (about 2½ tablespoons) of quinoa daily. They slightly reduced their triglyceride levels and cut their prevalence to metabolic syndrome by 41 per cent.
A third group, who stuck to their normal diet and avoided eating quinoa, increased their risk of metabolic syndrome by almost seven per cent.
Ms Navarro-Perez said there were many good reasons to grow and eat more quinoa in Australia. “Quinoa is a staple in Latin America where I come from, in particular Peru and Bolivia. Unlike rice, it does not need much water or land and can grow in different climates,” she said.
“Given its health and environmental benefits, Australia should be looking at increasing production and encouraging more people to eat quinoa.”
Media contact Anastasia Salamastrakis 0428 195 464