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Could quinoa have stomach health benefits?

By Stephen Daniells , 26-Sep-2012

Could quinoa have stomach health benefits?

The potential benefits of quinoa may extend to gut health, suggests the first study to report that polysaccharide fractions from the seeds may have anti-ulcer activity.

Brazilian researchers report that polysaccharides from the cell wall of quinoa seeds may protect the stomach against ethanol-induced acute gastric lesions in rats.

“This research strengthens the properties of quinoa as an extremely healthy food of the future and can open new avenues for its use as a functional food,” wrote the researchers in Food Chemistry .

Gluten-free potential and beyond

Quinoa is one of a handful of grains and grain-like seeds that is often recommended as an alternative to gluten-containing grains for those following a strict gluten-free diet. Native to South America and high in protein and a range of minerals, it may be an important source of certain nutrients for many celiac patients.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder with symptoms caused by consumption of gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. The only treatment currently available is complete avoidance of dietary gluten.

While the grain’s potential for gluten-free products is well known, the use of quinoa for “medicinal purposes has been rarely reported”, said researchers from Universidade Federal do Parana.

Fractions

Polysaccharides were extracted from the cell walls of quinoa seeds. A pool of these polysaccharides (arabinan and arabinan-rich pectic polysaccharides) was investigated for potential to protect against ethanol-induced stomach ulcer formation in rats.

Data showed that the area of the lesion in the stomach was reduced by between 45 and 72%, which compared favorably to the 84% achieved when the potent inhibitor of acid secretion Omeprazole was used.
“The present investigation has led to the structural characterization of a pool of polysaccharides (arabinan and arabinan-rich pectic polysaccharides) present in the seeds of quinoa that demonstrated an anti-ulcer activity,” they concluded.

Source: Food Chemistry
Volume 130, Issue 4, Pages 937-944
“Arabinan and arabinan-rich pectic polysaccharides from quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) seeds: Structure and gastroprotective activity”
Authors: L.M.C. Cordeiro, V. de Fatima Reinhardt, C.H. Baggio, M.F. de Paula Werner, L.M. Burci, G.L. Sassaki, M. Iacomini