Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high. It’s caused by problems with a chemical in the body called insulin and is often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes1.

We also know that diet and healthy eating can play a key role in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes2 and so we have been working with leading academic institutions to find out exactly how and why Quorn mycoprotein may help.

Research Spotlight: Key Messages

Quorn mycoprotein is high in fibre and protein, low in total and saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. It is also comparatively low energy relative to other protein sources. This makes it a great addition to an individual’s healthy and balanced diet.

We have been conducting research for over three decades into the health benefits of Quorn mycoprotein. We collaborate with world-class academic institutions, such as the University of Exeter and Imperial College London, where we look at the beneficial impacts on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

A systematic review of Randomised Control Trials (considered the gold standard of research) investigating the effects of Quorn mycoprotein on blood sugar, insulin levels and energy intake in humans found that acute (one-time consumption of) ingestion of Quorn mycoprotein reduces energy intake and blood insulin levels compared to animal-derived proteins3. These findings were built upon by a more recent paper that found that substituting meat/fish for Quorn mycoprotein demonstrates no significant change in blood sugar levels, suggesting that a diet based on Quorn mycoprotein does not increase the risk of diabetes compared to animal proteins4.

What does the science say about Quorn mycoprotein?

A systematic review by Cherta-Murillo et al3 investigated the effects of Quorn mycoprotein on blood sugar levels and energy intake in humans. There were 5 Randomised Control Trials that met the inclusion criteria, totalling 122 healthy participants. The data suggested that the acute intake of Quorn mycoprotein may decrease insulin output in healthy lean and overweight adults. Although, we understand that such conclusions come with limitations given the small number of studies that were eligible to include and therefore, more studies are needed for further understanding and validation of the acute effects of Quorn mycoprotein on blood sugar levels. However, let’s take a deeper dive into the possible mechanisms involved.

Cherta-Murillo et al3 discusses the importance of delayed gastric emptying (the time the stomach takes to empty), therefore slowing down glucose digestion and reducing the appearance of sugar in blood, specifically followed by the consumption of protein and soluble fibre. Quorn mycoprotein is high in fibre containing 6g per 100g, two thirds of which are β-glucans (soluble fibre) and the remainder chitin (insoluble fibre). Therefore, it is possible that the protein and fibre composition of Quorn mycoprotein may modify the rate of gastric emptying. More specifically, this may occur via the beta-glucan fraction of Quorn mycoprotein and the possible conversion of chitin to its soluble form known as chitosan during digestion, although this warrants further investigations using human gastric samples3.

In addition, another possible explanation could be the food structure of Quorn mycoprotein leading to a more sustained and slower release of amino acids in the blood5. This may explain the reduction in insulin output reported in the literature.

Given that the evidence suggests that Quorn mycoprotein plays a role in glucose homeostasis in healthy subjects, experts at Imperial College London will now investigate the impact Quorn mycoprotein on glycaemic control and appetite in people living with type 2 diabetes, in particular, in south Asian adults compared to European adults. Plus, how Quorn mycoprotein behaves alongside other ingredients will be tested in an accessible whole meal context; testing specially designed ‘just add water’ soups ranging in protein and fibre content to better understand within the Asian community. Imperial will also explore the mechanisms underpinning this by looking at the gut hormone release with roles in glycaemia and appetite such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and peptide tyrosine tyrosine (PYY).

These studies will help us to begin to design new Quorn products with evidence-based health properties for different groups of people affected by diabetes around the world.

Weight Management Spotlight

Diabetes UK2 state that living with obesity is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, so eating a healthy, balanced diet is a good way to reduce your risk. It’s important to find ways that work best for you, so you will be more likely to maintain them. Making simple swaps that are high in protein and fibre, and low in saturated fat such as Quorn products can play a role in helping to build a balanced and colourful plate.

Quorn mycoprotein is comprised of nutrients which have been shown to effectively induce satiety, such as protein and fibre1. The effects of protein consumption on satiety has been found to result in overall lower energy intake as well as increase overall daily energy expenditure as a result of enhanced diet-induced thermogenesis and energy expenditure during sleep6. Dunlop et al5 explains that Quorn mycoprotein consumption has been shown to induce an acute thermogenic response, similar to that seen following the consumption of animal protein. However, unlike animal protein, Quorn mycoprotein has a lower energy density.

Fibre is also known for its effects on satiety and reduced energy intake as recognised with the seminal ‘fibre hypothesis’7. This has been recorded in the literature as a result of at least three mechanisms including:

  • Fibre displaces available calories and nutrients from the diet
  • Fibre increases chewing, which limits intake by promoting the secretion of saliva and gastric juice, resulting in an expansion of the stomach and increased satiety
  • Fibre reduces the absorption efficiency of the small intestine

To demonstrate the impact of Quorn mycoprotein on satiety, a study conducted by Bottin et al8 explored the effect of Quorn mycoprotein on energy intake and appetite regulation in individuals who are overweight or obese. In two Randomised Control Trials, fifty-five volunteers consumed a meal containing low (44g), medium (88g) or high (132g) Quorn mycoprotein or chicken meals. The data demonstrates that Quorn mycoprotein reduced energy intake by 10% compared with chicken at the high content. In addition, all Quorn mycoprotein meals reduced insulin concentrations compared with chicken however, there was no significant difference in glucose, PYY, GLP-1, gastric emptying rate and energy expenditure. In conclusion, Bottin et al8 found that dietary intake of Quorn mycoprotein can decrease energy intake in individuals who are overweight. In addition, in an updated review by Coelho et al9 authors concluded that the substitution of high energy density foods for Quorn mycoprotein may be an effective tool for weight management.

Incorporating Quorn mycoprotein into a dietary plan

Quorn products can play a key role in a healthy and balanced diet for vegan, veggies or meat-eaters alike! Thanks to its meat-like texture, it’s easy to swap out meat for Quorn in all of your family favourites such as Spaghetti Bolognese, Chilli or Tikka Curry. If you or your family are not ready to make the full switch just yet, click here to explore our Sustainable Eats tool and see the nutritional improvements and sustainability wins you can have – even when you go 50:50!

Whether you’re interested in incorporating Quorn mycoprotein into your diet, or to support your clients, we have a range of informative resources for you. Our resources are free to browse, download and use and have been factchecked by our nutrition experts. Want to know what experts we work with? Click here to go to our dedicated Meet The Experts page.

Last updated January 2021. Next review due January 2022.

  1. NHS. 2020. Type 2 Diabetes. [online]. [Accessed 25th November 2020]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/.
  2. Diabetes UK. 2020. 10 Tips For Healthy Eating If You Are At Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes. [online]. [Accessed 25th November 2020]. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/preventing-type-2-diabetes/ten-tips-for-healthy-eating.
  3. Cherta-Murillo, A., Lett, A., Frampton, J., Chambers, E., Finnigan, T. and Frost, G., 2020. Effects of Quorn mycoprotein on glycaemic control and energy intake in humans: a systematic review. British Journal of Nutrition. [online]. 123(12), pp.1321-1332. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32100651.
  4. Coelho, M., Monteyne, A., Dirks, M., Finnigan, T., Stephens, F. and Wall, B., 2020. Daily Quorn mycoprotein consumption for 1 week does not affect insulin sensitivity or glycaemic control but modulates the plasma lipidome in healthy adults: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. [online]. pp.1-14. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/daily-mycoprotein-consumption-for-one-week-does-not-affect-insulin-sensitivity-or-glycaemic-control-but-modulates-the-plasma-lipidome-in-healthy-adults-a-randomised-controlled-trial/92B512B9790191075F826A8789A6EA2.
  5. Dunlop, M., Kilroe, S., Bowtell, J., Finnigan, T., Salmon, D. and Wall, B., 2017. Quorn mycoprotein represents a bioavailable and insulinotropic non-animal-derived dietary protein source: a dose-response study. British Journal Nutrition. [online]. 118(9), pp.673-685. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29017627/.
  6. Westerterp-Plantenga, M., 2008. Protein intake and energy balance. Regulatory Peptides, [online] 149(1-3), pp.67-69. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18448177/.
  7. Slavin, J. and Green, H., 2007. Dietary fibre and satiety. Nutrition Bulletin. [online]. 32(1), pp.32-42. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00603.x#:~:text=(1)%20fibre%20displaces%20available%20calories,efficiency%20of%20the%20small%20intestine.
  8. Bottin, J., Swann, J., Cropp, E., Chambers, E., Ford, H., Ghatei, M. and Frost, G., 2016. Quorn mycoprotein reduces energy intake and postprandial insulin release without altering glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide tyrosine-tyrosine concentrations in healthy overweight and obese adults: a randomised-controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. [online]. 116(2), pp.360-374. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27198187/.
  9. Coelho, M., Monteyne, A., Dunlop, M., Harris, H., Morrison, D., Stephens, F. and Wall, B., 2019. Quorn mycoprotein as a possible alternative source of dietary protein to support muscle and metabolic health. Nutrition Reviews. [online]. 78(6), pp.486-497. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31841152.

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