Mankai duckweed, a plant-protein source, may support postprandial glycemic response, says recent study

August 12, 2019
Sebastian Krawiec

A trial recently published in the journal Diabetes Care, evaluated the effect Wolffia globosa has on postprandial glycemic response. 

A trial recently published in the journal Diabetes Care1, evaluated the effect Wolffia globosa has on postprandial glycemic response. This green aquatic plant is also known as Mankai, a specific strain of duckweed. In the randomized, crossover, controlled trial conducted by researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 20 abdominally obese subjects were allocated to replace dinner with either a green shake containing Mankai or a yogurt shake equivalent in carbohydrates, protein, lipids, and calories. A two-week flash glucose-monitoring system was used to assess post-meal glucose dynamics, then the groups switched meal replacements and were assessed again.

Results showed that the Mankai meal replacement elicited a lower postprandial glucose peak compared to the yogurt shake and subjects returned to baseline glucose levels faster. Compared to the yogurt shake, the Mankai shake also resulted in lower next-morning fasting glucose levels, with overall lower postprandial glucose levels from shake administration until the next morning.

The researchers concluded that Mankai duckweed may serve an alternative plant-protein source with the potential for beneficial postprandial glycemic effects. In terms of nutritional value, Mankai duckweed has the complete protein profile of eggs, containing all nine essential and six conditional amino acids. It’s also rich in polyphenols, mainly phenolic acids and flavonoids (including catechins), dietary fibers, minerals (including iron and zinc), vitamin A, vitamin B complex, and vitamin B12.

Mankai duckweed is grown in Israel and other countries in closed environments that require a fraction of the water to produce a gram of protein compared to other plant protein sources such as soy, kale, and spinach. This makes the year-round hydroponic cultivation of Mankai highly environmentally sustainable.
 

References:

1. Zelicha H et al. “The effect of Wolffia globosa Mankai, a green aquatic plant, on postprandial glycemic response: a randomized crossover controlled trial.” Diabetes Care, vol. 42, no. 7 (2019): 1162-1169

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