Evidence suggests that mycoprotein may have a positive effect on helping to control blood glucose levels.

There is evidence to suggest that mycoprotein may be useful in the management of obesity and type 2 diabetes as it appears to show beneficial effects on glycaemia (glucose in the blood) and insulinaemia (insulin in the blood).

By decreasing the rate of glucose absorption, the amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas is reduced, lessening the impact of the ‘insulin peak’. Periodic high peaks of insulin secretion are thought to contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, so a reduced glycaemic response is desirable.

The mechanisms by which mycoprotein reduces the rise in postprandial blood glucose are thought to be associated with its high fiber content. fiber delays the passage of food into the small intestine (Leclère et al. 1994).

As a result, the glucose is absorbed more slowly. Additionally, the presence of soluble, viscous fiber slows the diffusion of glucose across the small intestinal wall bringing about an improved glycaemic response (Edwards et al. 1988).

Mycoprotein contains mainly beta-.glucans and chitin, which are partially soluble. However, it has been proposed that the chitin can undergo deacetylation to form a more soluble compound called chitosan, adding to the soluble proportion of fiber in the food (Turnball & Ward 1995).

Mycoprotein has a low carbohydrate content so it is unlikely that the delayed breakdown and absorption of its carbohydrate alone would result in the observed improvements in the glycaemic response. Instead, it is the effect that it has on the digestion of carbohydrate present in the foods eaten at the same meal occasion that is bringing about the proposed benefit.

Interest in the anti-glycaemic effect of mycoprotein was sparked by an early observation by researchers Turnball & Ward (1995) who investigated the glycaemic response in 19 healthy subjects. The study was a randomised crossover design with each subject receiving either a test meal (20g mycoprotein) or control meal, in random order, with a 7-day washout period between the 2 meals.

They observed that the serum glucose response was lower throughout the entire 120 minute post-prandial period following the mycoprotein meal compared to the control. The insulin response was also lower. The only nutritional difference between the test meals was the dietary fiber content (the mycoprotein meal contained 11.2g more dietary fiber) so the authors suggest that it is the viscous polysaccharides that are reducing postprandial glycaemia and insulinaemia.


Research

Bottin J, Cropp E, Ford H, Betremieux L, Finnigan TJA, Frost G. (2011) Mycoprotein reduces insulinaemia and improves insulin sensitivity. Proc Nutr Soc 70 E372.

Bottin J, Cropp E, Finnigan TJA, Hogben A, Frost G. (2012) Mycoprotein reduces energy intake and improves insulin sensitivity compared to chicken. Proc ECO. Lyon May 2012.

Frost G, Bottin J, Finnigan TJA. Mycoprotein reduces energy intake and improves insulin sensitivity without altering GLP-1 and PYY concentrations in overweight adults. Am J Clin Nutr.

Marks L. (2005) Effects of mycoprotein foodstuffs on glycaemic responses and other factors beneficial to health. PhD Thesis. University of Ulster.

Turnbull, WH, et al. (1998) Myco-protein as a Functional Food: Effects on Lipemia, Glycemia and Appetite Variables. Proc. 16th Intnl Cong Nutr. (included as reference 12).

Turnbull WH, Ward T. (1995) Myco protein reduces glycemia and insulinemia when taken with an oral glucose tolerance test. Am J Clin Nutr 61 (1) 135-140.

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FAQ - What impact does mycoprotein have on glycaemic response?

There is evidence to suggest that mycoprotein may be useful in the management of obesity and type 2 diabetes as it appears to show beneficial effects on glycaemia (glucose in the blood) and insulinaemia (insulin in the blood). For a fuller discussion click here.

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FAQ - Is mycoprotein suitable for diabetics?

Data from a clinical trial1 indicates that Quorn™ products may have a beneficial role to play in the control of diabetes by influencing glycaemia and insulinaemia after a meal and the fact that Quorn™ products are relatively low in free sugars is also a positive effect.

1 Am J Clin Nutr 61 (1) p135-140 1995

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