Quinoa for a Gluten-Free Diet

Quinoa was well tolerated by celiac disease patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Quinoa is a high-protein grain from South America that has become more popular in recent years. A recent study examined whether people who could not eat gluten could tolerate this grain.

For this study, patients with celiac disease ate quinoa every day for six weeks. They reported any symptoms like stomach pain or vomiting. The researchers also examined the intestinal health of the patients before and after the quinoa regimen.

These researchers found that quinoa did not worsen the patients' celiac disease. In fact, many of the participants continued to eat quinoa regularly after the study ended.

"Talk to your nutritionist about healthy foods for celiac disease."

Victor Zevallos, PhD, of the Division of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences in the Rayne Institute at King's College London, led this study on quinoa.

Quinoa is a high-protein seed that is often eaten like a grain or cereal.

This study examined whether people with celiac disease coud tolerate quinoa.

Celiac disease patients are allergic to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten, they may develop stomach pain, have diarrhea and fail to absorb nutrients. In the long term, celiac disease can lead to damage of the intestines.

In this study, 19 celiac patients, with an average age of 59 years, were recruited to consume a daily 50-gram serving of quinoa for six weeks.

Each of the participants was contacted three times during the study period, and they were free to call the investigators at any time.

The participants also recorded any celiac disease symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea or vomiting.

The investigators also screened the patients' blood, livers and kidneys to determine health status at baseline (start of study) and after the study.

Ten of the participants underwent an additional endoscopy, a procedure to view the inside of the upper intestinal tract. The researchers took a small sample of the small intestine to see if any microscopic damage occurred.

After the study ended, the researchers found that most of the patients did not report any stomach symptoms during the six-week period.

Nine participants reported mild to moderate symptoms during the first two weeks.

The researchers also found that quinoa did not seem to cause any irritation to the intestines.

In fact, for three of the participants, the health of the villi (lining of the intestinal walls) improved after the six-week quinoa regimen.

The blood tests taken after the study also came back in the normal range, although choelsterol levels were slightly higher than normal throughout the study.

The researchers concluded that eating quinoa led to no signs of change to celiac disease in this study.

These researchers claimed that quinoa seemed to be well tolerated among people with celiac disease.

This study was published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology on January 21.

The work was supported by the Food Standards Agency. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
January 23, 2014
Last Updated:
March 12, 2015