Benefits of Mesquite Flour for Type 2 Diabetes

Mesquite meal or flour is made from the dried seed pods of the mesquite tree, a common tree in the American Southwest. In fact, the tree and its pods were an important food staple of the Native Americans. They would grind the pods to make sweet flour which was used for soups, drinks, puddings, porridge, and dried cakes. The dried pods also were picked right off the tree and chewed on. They continue to be a favorite treat for local critters like squirrels and birds. Some people say the seed pods taste similar to slightly sweet Cracker Jack snack food.

Mesquite flour in a wooden spoon
Tonigenes / Getty Images 

Less than a century ago, type 2 diabetes was virtually unheard of in Southwestern tribes as many of their native foods had protective properties that helped keep blood sugar levels low and stable. In addition, they were sustained through farming practices, which required intense physical labor and high levels of energy expenditure.

As the culture shifted and environmental demands changed, mesquite meal or flour began to be replaced with white flour (and other unhealthy foods were added to their diet), type 2 diabetes became a problem. In fact, tribes in this area now have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world.

What Makes Mesquite Flour a Superfood? 

The word "superfood" is a term we use when a specific food contains nutrient-rich properties that can improve health. This doesn't mean that the food contains magical powers that can cure a disease, rather that the properties are healthy when added to a balanced diet. Mesquite is a high-protein, highly nutritious food, rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and lysine. Studies have shown that diets rich in potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte, can help to prevent stroke and high blood pressure, and increase bone mineral density. Mesquite flour is also low on the glycemic index, which can help to keep blood sugars controlled, and is gluten-free. In addition, it has three times as much soluble fiber as normal wheat flour, as well as tannins, inulin, and mucilaginous polysaccharide gums that can help maintain blood sugar control.

How Does Mesquite Flour Taste? 

You can also use mesquite meal or flour in recipes that use flour, such as cookies, cakes, and bread. Because it is naturally sweet, using mesquite flour in recipes may allow you to lower the amount of sugar added to recipes. Reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and sugar can help to keep blood sugars controlled.

When cooked, the flavor of mesquite becomes stronger and can be overbearing. To tone the flavor down, it is best to include a mix of mesquite meal and 100% whole wheat flour or other whole grain flour in recipes. Replace 1/4 to 1/2 of each cup of wheat flour with mesquite flour.

Other Ways to Use Mesquite Flour

Mesquite meal or flour can also be sprinkled on hot cooked cereal as a replacement for sugar. It can also be added to smoothies or meal replacement shakes to boost nutrition content adding fiber and protein. There are traditional simple recipes using mesquite meal for porridge and drinks called pinole and atole that are usually not much more than just mesquite meal and water.

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