Digestive Health

Updated 04 July 2014

Quinoa may be safe for coeliacs

A new British study suggests that the grain quinoa seems safe for people with coeliac disease.

The grain quinoa seems safe for people with celiac disease, a new British study suggests.

Read: Why coeliac disease is linked to birth month

People with coeliac disease have an immune response in the small intestine when they eat the protein gluten, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Quinoa is often recommended as part of a gluten-free diet, but prior research in the laboratory had suggested that it might not be good for coeliac disease patients.

Read: Why coeliacs can eat gluten

To help settle the matter, researchers added 50 grams (just under 2 ounces) of quinoa a day to the gluten-free diets of 19 coeliac patients for six weeks. The participants were free to choose how they cooked the quinoa. The investigators tracked the participants' health through blood, liver and kidney tests.

Quinoa was well-tolerated by the patients and did not worsen their condition, according to the findings published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

"It's important to note that further studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of quinoa consumption in people with celiac disease," study author Dr Victor Zevallos, of the gastroenterology department at King's College London in England, said in a journal news release.

"The clinical data [in this study] suggests that daily consumption of quinoa (50 grams) can be safely tolerated by coeliac patients," Zevallos concluded.

Read more:

•             How gastroenteritis may trigger coeliac disease

•             Why coeliac disease is linked to cataract risk

•             Why more people should go gluten-free

(Picture: Quinoa grains from Shutterstock)

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Dr. Estelle Wilken is a Senior Specialist in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at Tygerberg Hospital. She obtained her MBChB in 1976, her MMed (Int) in 1991 and her gastroenterology registration in 1995.

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