New Superfood for Blood Sugar – Mankai Duckweed

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The new superfood, mankai duckweed, has recently been found to help control the blood sugar and offer other health benefits by researchers in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The rich protein, dietary fiber, vitamins and other nutrition in mankai duckweed make it an ideal food for the overall health.  


Superfoods: the new fashion


Superfoods are foods that are thought to be nutritionally dense and thus foods for one’s health. Blueberries, salmon, broccoli are some examples of what have garnered the “superfood” label.


“Superfoods don’t have their own food group,” said Despina Hyde, a registered dietician at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “I think ‘superfood’ is more of a market term for foods that have health benefits."


More and more superfoods are discovered these years because of their rich nutrition or great benefits they have on people’s health.



For people with diabetes, especially type-2 diabetes or prediabetes (a condition under which the person has a higher blood sugar than normal but not as critical as to be diagnosed as diabetics), superfoods for lowering or controlling blood sugar are essential to their treatment.


(To see more about preventing diabetes, click here: Nobody is Safe: Your Ultimate Diabetes Prevention Guidebook)


Mankai Duckweed


A newly published study by researchers from BGU showed that Mankai duckweed performs better in lowering blood sugar compared with the control group.


In the study, the researchers set two groups of people taking Mankai shake and yogurt shake respectively.


The shake consumption in the two groups are equal in carbohydrates, protein, lipids, and calories.


After two weeks of monitoring with glucose sensors, participants who took duckweed shake showed a much better figure in a variety of measurements including:


1.      Lower glucose peak levels  

2.      Lower morning fasting glucose levels

3.      Later peak time

4.      Faster glucose evacuation

5.      Greater satiety



Previous studies


The research group in BGU led by Prof. Iris Shai has been studying the effects of duckweed for some years.


A previous study showed that the absorption of the essential amino acids from Mankai duckweed was similar to the soft cheese and plant (peas) equivalent in protein content. The result showed that duckweed could be used as a high-quality protein source. It’s also a unique plant source of vitamin B12.


Another study by the group indicates that a Mediterranean diet with Mankai duckweed elevates iron and folic acid levels, despite low quantities of red meat.



Nutrition facts


Natural duckweed contains 86-97% water, so measurements of nutrient composition are taken from the dried product. Ideally grown duckweed contains:


35-45% protein by weight

5-15% fiber

5% fat


The calorie of duckweed is still uncertain, but for your information, the calorie of dried spirulina, a similar hydrophyte, is 51 calories per 100g.



There are some other superfoods which are believed to help lower the blood sugar listed below.

2 Answers

These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.



A study on 26 healthy, overweight adults evaluated the effects of incorporating fresh Hass avocado to a lunch. The avocado replaced other foods or was simply added to the meal in the study.


Results showed that when approximately one-half of a fresh avocado was added to a lunch consisting of a salad with Italian dressing, a baguette, and cookies, participants felt more satisfied, and had less desire to eat following the meal.


The participants also had a lower immediate rise in insulin levels compared with the control group. However, over a three-hour period there was no significant difference in insulin levels.


Nutrition facts


The nutrition facts of avocados are:


15% fat by weight

10% fiber

8.8% carbohydrates

3% protein


227 calories per serving (1 avocado without skin or seed, 136g in total)


With few carbohydrates, rich fiber, and healthful fat, people with diabetes can enjoy an avocado in moderation without the stress of raising their blood sugar levels.




Researchers gave concentrated broccoli sprout extracts to 97 human type 2 diabetes patients in a 12-week randomized placebo-controlled trial in a study. Obese participants who entered the study with dysregulated disease demonstrated significantly decreased fasting blood glucose levels compared to controls.



Nutrition facts


The nutrition facts of broccoli are:


6.6% carbohydrates

2.9% fiber

2.7% protein

Rich in vitamin C


31 calories per serving (a cup raw chopped, 91g in total)




A study looked at people with type 2 diabetes who took a 250-milligram caffeine pill at breakfast and another at lunchtime, which was about the same amount as drinking two cups of coffee with each meal.


The participants’ blood sugar was 8% higher than on days when they didn’t have caffeine. Their reading also jumped by more after each meal.



Nutrition facts


The nutrition facts of coffee are:


0% carbohydrate

0% fat

0% fiber


2 calories per serving (a mug of coffee, 81 oz in total)


Caffeine may also have some side effects. To know more about caffeine, see: Ways to Balance: Caffeine, the Angel and the Devil


Comparison: what makes duckweed so special


To have a more direct view, let’s put the nutrition facts of duckweed, avocado, broccoli and coffee together.







Fat (%)





Carbohydrates (%)





Protein (%)





Fiber (%)





Calories per serving (calories)

Lack of data





According to the official website of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev:


“Duckweed has been consumed for hundreds of years in Southeast Asia where it is known as ‘vegetable meatball’ due to its high-protein content… it includes the complete protein profile of eggs, containing all nine essential and sic conditional amino acids. In addition, Mankai is very 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, which is rarely produced by plants.”


Mankai smoothies were introduced in the Harvard School of Public Health cafeteria recently.


Where can we buy it?
For now, Mankai duckweed is not commercialized as superfood yet, so you can only find it as a plant in some specialist aquarium retailers. If you want to eat some for health, you can consider other water plants like spirulina supplement. According to BGU, "it is the aggregation of all of these properties which seem to make the easily integratable, tasteless and odorless plant, a good candidate to become a superfood."