Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an amazing wheat-free alternative to starchy grains. Quinoa is rich in protein, contains a good amount of fiber and minerals, and one of the rare plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also rich in fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, B vitamins, calcium, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
Quinoa is rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which make it very beneficial for human health in the prevention and treatment of disease. Quinoa also contains small amounts of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and, has a higher amount of monounsaturated fat. Its high fiber content makes it a slowly digested carbohydrate, thus making it a good low-GI option.
There are hundreds of cultivated types of quinoa, but the most common types of quinoa that are available are red quinoa, white quinoa, black quinoa, quinoa flour, and quinoa flakes.
Quinoa Nutrition Profile
Botanically, quinoa isn’t a cereal grain, but, it is a pseudo-cereal. There are many surprising benefits of quinoa nutrition. One cup of cooked quinoa, weighing 185 grams (g), has nutrient content:
- Calories: 222
- Protein: 8.14 grams
- Fiber: 5.2 grams
- Fat: 3.55 grams, of which 0.42 grams is saturated
- Carbohydrates: 39.4 grams
- Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
- Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA
- Folate: 19% of the RDA
- Copper: 18% of the RDA
- Iron: 15% of the RDA
- Zinc: 13% of the RDA
- Potassium: 9% of the RDA
- Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B-2, B-1, and B-6. Small traces of calcium, B-3 (niacin) and vitamin E
1. Helps in Weight Loss
Quinoa has high fiber content much higher than most grains and seeds. Though a significant amount of the fiber in quinoa is insoluble, it still does contain a modest amount of soluble fiber. One cup of quinoa contains 2.5 grams of soluble fiber which helps in weight loss. Quinoa also has a specific compound 20-hydroxyecdysone which helps to control weight and also aids in burning more calories.
2. Promotes Healthy Heart
Consuming quinoa means lower levels of bad cholesterol, and this means a decreased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
3. Helps to Fight Cancer
Quinoa is highly rich in antioxidants, compounds that can fight free radicals and other toxic substances that cause cancer.
4. Helps to Fight Diabetes and Hypertension
The fiber present in quinoa helps to maintain blood sugar levels. Also, quinoa has a low-glycemic index and all the essential amino acids which also helps in controlling blood sugar levels. Quinoa also has good amounts of potassium and magnesium, nutrients that help lower blood pressure.
5. Boosts Metabolism
The high protein content in quinoa helps to boost metabolism and also helps to reduce appetite.
6. Improves Digestive Health
Quinoa is rich in fiber and thus adds volume to the food churned in your stomach, and this stimulates the walls of your digestive tract. Your tract contracts and this supports better absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. In the large intestine, this fiber limits constipation.
7. Contains the Goodness of Plant compounds Quercetin And Kaempferol
Quinoa is rich in both of these plant compounds which promotes its anti-inflammatory properties and also possess antiviral and antidepressant effects.
Quinoa is gluten-free and hence a great food choice for people with gluten-intolerance. Using it in place of typical gluten-free ingredients can improve the antioxidant and nutrient value of your diet when you’re avoiding gluten.
9. Rich in Antioxidants
Quinoa is very rich in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are considered to help fight aging and many diseases. Sprouting enhances their antioxidant levels even further.
10. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Quinoa contains a good amount of magnesium which works excellent for bone health and also plays a role in bone formation. Quinoa is also rich in protein that works as the building block for the bones. More importantly, it has all the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. The manganese and magnesium in quinoa also help prevent osteoporosis.
Ways to Add Quinoa to Your Daily Diet
Quinoa is very easy to incorporate into your daily diet. It’s also appetizing and goes well with many foods. Depending on the variety of quinoa, it can be essential to rinse it with water before cooking to get rid of saponins, which are found on the outer layer and can have a bitter flavor. You can buy quinoa easily in supermarkets or many health food stores.
- Toss cooked quinoa into any smoothie recipe
- Use quinoa instead of oatmeal since it cooks a lot faster
- Make your favorite breakfast bars with quinoa
- Toss cooked quinoa into your favorite salads
- Use cooked quinoa instead of rice for vegetable stuffings
- Add quinoa to your desserts such as puddings, muffins, pancakes, etc.
- Make quinoa fritters along with some vegetables such as zucchini
- Add quinoa to your soups to make them more filling and delicious
Rich in protein, fiber, essential minerals and nutrients, antioxidants and all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is one of the healthiest and most nutritious superfoods on the planet. It helps to improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and even help in weight loss. Also, it’s naturally gluten-free, versatile, delicious and incredibly easy to prepare.
Stay tuned for the next installment on Quinoa, we will share how to cook quinoa, healthy recipes you can cook with quinoa, cooking tips, how to select and store quinoa, and much more.
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