Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wa’ is a great wheat-free alternative to starchy grains. It has twice the protein content of rice or barley and is a very good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. It also possesses good levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fiber.
Quinoa was known to the Incas as “the mother of all grains” and was first cultivated over 5,000 years ago. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.
According to http://www.whfoods.com, In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid). Quinoa can also provide small amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Given this higher fat content, researchers initially assumed that quinoa would be more susceptible to oxidation and resulting nutrient damage. However, recent studies have shown that quinoa does not get oxidized as rapidly as might be expected given its higher fat content.
Although there are hundreds of cultivated types of quinoa, the most common versions available in stores are white, red, and black quinoa.
Grown in South America (Peru, Chile and Bolivia) for thousands of years, quinoa formed the staple diet of the Incas and their descendants. In recent years, foodies in the UK and the US have heralded it as a superior alternative to bulgur wheat, couscous and rice. Though it often occupies a similar role to these grains in dishes, quinoa is actually in the same family as beets, chard and spinach.
Nutritional Value of Quinoa
Nutrients present in Quinoa
Quinoa uncooked vs cooked
Other Nutrient Facts about Quinoa
- Quinoa is among the least allergenic of all the grains, making it a fantastic wheat-free choice.
- Like buckwheat, quinoa has an excellent amino acid profile, as it contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete-protein source. Quinoa is therefore an excellent choice for vegans who may struggle to get enough protein in their diets.
- Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber.
- Quinoa also has a high protein to carbohydrate ratio when compared to other grain products. It was proposed by NASA to be an ideal food for long duration space flights.
- About 25 percent of quinoa’s fatty acids come in the form of oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and about 8 percent comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the omega-3 fatty acid most commonly found in plants.
- The antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol are also especially plentiful in quinoa. In fact, the concentration of these two flavonoids in quinoa can sometimes be greater than their concentration of high-flavonoid berries like cranberry or lingonberry.
- One cup of quinoa provides 2.2 milligrams of gamma-tocopherol—a form of vitamin E that has been more closely associated with certain anti-inflammatory benefits in health research.
- It takes 63 calories’ worth of quinoa to provide 1 gram of fat, and is considered to be a valuable source of certain health-supportive fats. On the other hand, it takes 350 calories’ worth of whole wheat to provide 1 gram of fat.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa is rich in protein
It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. 1 cup (185 grams) of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein.
Read More: Foods Rich in Proteins
Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains
Fiber is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and may help you to lose weight as it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food.
Read more: High Fiber Food
Quinoa contains Iron
Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron some more of which include neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.
Quinoa contains lysine
Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.
Quinoa is rich in magnesium
Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.
Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.
Quinoa has a high content of manganese
Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.
Quinoa Has Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is used to measure how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods that are high on the glycemic index are known to fluctuate blood sugar levels, stimulate hunger, and contribute to obesity. Quinoa has a glycemic index of 53, which is under the 55 required to be considered a food that helps stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Quinoa May Prevent Osteoporosis
Due to its high magnesium content, quinoa can be very effective in preventing magnesium deficiency and the diseases that go along with it.
Quinoa May Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Magnesium can be important for preventing cardiovascular disease as well as insulin sensitivity and diabetes.
Quinoa is Rich in Zinc
One cup of quinoa contains 13% of the RDA, which makes it one of the best sources of zinc. Zinc is used for treatment and prevention of zinc deficiency and its consequences, including how it affects the skin and liver disease.
Quinoa Prevents Kidney Stone
Quinoa is also beneficial for managing potassium content. Potassium activity has been shown to inhibit uric acid stone formation, according to a study conducted in Italy in 2009.
Quinoa is high in Antioxidants
Quinoa is also a grain that is very high in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are also believed to help fight aging and many diseases.
Read more: Why the body needs antioxidants
How to select & store
Ensure there are no tears or holes in the packet of quinoa you are buying as moisture can affect the freshness of the grain. Store in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place where it can last for several months.
When boiling quinoa, the compound that coats the seeds (saponins) creates a foam. These saponins give quinoa a slightly bitter taste. It is best to remove any leftover saponins on the quinoa coat; thoroughly washing the seeds before cooking by putting them into a sieve and running them under cold water. Once you have rinsed it well, it can be cooked like rice. It will expand to several times the original size during cooking.