Quinoa is a superfood that is becoming more popular in recent years, although it has been around for over 7000 years already. Originally from South America and known as an ‘ancient grain,' this food is actually not a grain, but a seed. Quinoa has a myriad of health benefits and has become one of the world's most popular health foods. It's very versatile and high in everything your body needs.
Quinoa has a very high amount of fiber. It is twice as high in comparison to other grains, but also high compared to other foods in general, around 17-27 grams per cup. This amount is a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is good for lowering cholesterol and reducing blood sugars. When you boil quinoa, it does lose some of its fiber because it absorbs so much water, but it is still packed with great amounts of fiber for you to keep healthy and regular.
Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in some foods. 3 million people in the United States are currently gluten intolerant. This is where one of the benefits of quinoa comes in. If people with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) replaced their primary grain source in their diets with quinoa they would still be able to meet any protein, calcium, iron and fiber needs for a nutritionally beneficial diet. There are many gluten-free alternatives to bread, rice, pasta, and other grain-based foods and snacks, but eating quinoa will ensure a more well-balanced diet than alternatives alone.
For strong and healthy bones, the body needs more than just calcium. Although drinking a glass of milk is still good for bone health, eating quinoa may be even more beneficial to you than a nice cup of cold milk straight from the fridge. Western dietary habits include foods that are poor in nutrients like magnesium, manganese and phosphorous deficient. Quinoa has high levels of all these nutrients, and more, which the body needs to fight bone disease and osteoporosis.
Protein is necessary for a balanced diet to ensure the body can repair damaged cells and make new ones. Protein is a chain of amino acids and some of these the body cannot produce alone, so we get them from the foods we eat. Quinoa has a much higher protein base than other plant foods and has all the amino acids we could need. It even has what is known as a ‘complete' protein, which means it does not lack in any amino acid levels. Measuring 8 grams of protein per cup, this is one beneficial little non-grain.
Quinoa has a tremendous amount of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a particular kind of antioxidant. These antioxidants, specifically the polyphenols, fight to prevent diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Other antioxidants quinoa has are quercetin, kaempferol and both vanillic acid and ferulic acid, which are very important in the reduction of chronic disease and inflammation. A carotenoid called beta-carotene in quinoa can aid other various diseases and premature aging.
Quinoa is high in insoluble fiber and protein. These two things make you feel full after eating, more full than after eating any refined grains. This fact, combined with the manganese in quinoa that has an impact on hormones and enzymes to help digest food, means that eating quinoa can aid to weight loss. Quinoa improves cholesterol levels in the body and influences the hormones peptide YY, and insulin which all play a major role in your appetite. Eating quinoa regularly can help you lose weight and prevent obesity.
Every year, 1 in every four deaths in America is related to heart disease. A healthy heart is crucial to living longer and American fast food culture today is responsible for much of the pressures placed on heart function. Quinoa has no trans fats and only 4 grams of fat per cup, and of that fat, there is a balance of healthy monounsaturated fat and Omega 3, plus the important Alpha-linolenic acid, which has been proven to decrease the risk of death from a heart attack. One serve of quinoa is responsible for a tenth of recommended daily potassium intake; it has large amounts of magnesium and butyrate which all contribute to good heart health and a reduction in risk of heart disease.
A healthy gut is a standing point for reduced inflammation. For a healthy gut, you need prebiotics, which are fiber compounds that work together with probiotic enzymes. They turn into fuel for the good gut bacteria, lowering inflammation and improving the immune system. Quinoa has prebiotic potential. Quinoa has certain levels of butyrate. Butyrate can kill the excess amount of T cells, which are a source of inflammation, and suppress any further inflammation forming. The best way to get the most out of the quinoa for a healthy gut is to soak it in water with a squeeze of lemon juice, for between 12 – 14 hours.
In the United States, 29 million people have diabetes. One way to fight the onset of this disease is to eat diabetes preventative foods, this includes Quinoa. Foods that are high in manganese are one key to reducing the risk of diabetes. Manganese is a crucial part of the gluconeogenesis process, which balances blood sugar, and Quinoa has loads of it, not only that, but it improves an intolerance to glucose with its low glycemic index of 53, which works to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent or manage diabetes related conditions.
As far as other nutrients go, the list is long and very positive. In the daily dose, one cup of quinoa you get: 30% Magnesium, 28% phosphorous 19% folate, 18% copper, 15% iron 13% zinc, 9% potassium and small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B6, calcium, vitamin E and niacin (B3). All of this, plus, only 222 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates and a measly 4 grams of fat. An impressive ingredients list.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.