(HealthDay News) — For patients with celiac disease, the addition of quinoa to a gluten-free diet for six weeks is well tolerated, according to a study published online January 21 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Victor F. Zevallos, PhD, from King’s College London, and colleagues examined the in vivo effects of eating quinoa in 19 adult celiac patients. Participants consumed 50g of quinoa daily as part of their usual gluten-free diet. Diet, serology, and gastrointestinal parameters were assessed. Detailed histological assessments were conducted in 10 patients before and after eating quinoa.

The researchers found gastrointestinal parameters to be normal. The ratio of villus height to crypt depth increased from slightly below normal to normal levels (2.8:1–3:1); there was an improvement in the surface-enterocyte cell height from 28.76 to 29.77 µm; and a decrease in the number of intra-epithelial lymphocytes per 100 enterocytes from 30.3 to 29.7. For all blood tests, the median values remained within normal ranges, with decreases seen in total cholesterol (from 4.6 to 4.3 mmol/l), low-density lipoprotein (2.46 to 2.45 mmol/l) and high-density lipoprotein (from 1.8 to 1.68 mmol/l), and triglycerides (from 0.80 to 0.79 mmol/l).

“Overall, this is the first clinical data suggesting that daily 50g of quinoa for six weeks can be safely tolerated by celiac patients,” the authors write. “However, further studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of quinoa consumption.”

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