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Quinoa Safe for People with Celiac Disease

Update Date: Jan 22, 2014 10:13 AM EST

Quinoa, which is a grain native to South America, has recently received a lot of hype. Many health and nutritional experts, who are always on the lookout for "superfoods," have found quinoa to be an extremely healthy grain. In a new study, scientists from Britain examined the safety of eating quinoa for people with celiac disease. They concluded that the grain appears to be safe enough to eat.

Celiac disease is an immune disease in which the body cannot process the protein gluten. When people with the condition consume gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley, the body responds by damaging the lining of the small intestine. In order to prevent or limit damage, people with celiac disease are recommended to adopt a gluten-free diet.

In this study, the researchers recruited 19 people diagnosed with celiac disease. The participants were given 50 grams, which is a little less than two ounces, of quinoa per day for six weeks. They were allowed to cook the quinoa according to their tastes. The participants all had a gluten-free diet.

"We evaluated diet, serology, and gastrointestinal parameters. Furthermore, we carried out detail histological assessment of 10 patients before and after eating quinoa," the authors wrote.

During the experiment, the researchers collected data on the patients' health by conducting blood, liver and kidney tests. The researchers concluded that the patients' immune systems were able to tolerate quinoa. The grain did not worsen the patients' conditions.

"It's important to note that further studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of quinoa consumptions in people with celiac disease," study author Dr. Victor Zevallos, of the gastroenterology department at King's College London in England, said reported by WebMD. "The clinical data [in this study] suggests that daily consumption of quinoa (50 grams) can be safely tolerated by celiac patients."

Even though the study found that quinoa was safe to eat in small amounts everyday, people must remember to wash the grain carefully. Even though the majority of quinoa sold on the market has been processed to remove the toxic coating known as saponins, people should still be careful and wash the grains before consuming them. The study was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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