Over the last few years quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, has made a real buzz as a superfood. Quinoa is packed full of vitamins and minerals which can have a number of health benefits. We use it like a grain but it’s actually related to spinach, Swiss chard and beets. Let’s look more in depth at the question why is quinoa good for you?
Quinoa is a grain crop that is very high in protein. We eat the seeds of the plant which come in white, red and black varieties of which there are more than 100 types.
You can find B-vitamins, calcium, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber in quinoa. It is also an excellent source of protein, being one of the few plants to contain all 9 essential amino acids. Furthermore, it is gluten-free which makes it an ideal source of nutrition for people with gluten intolerances, including Celiac disease.
Historically, quinoa was a staple part of the Incan diet. The Inca Empire called quinoa the “mother of all grains.” They felt it to be sacred and a powerful source of strength.
Over the last few years quinoa has become popular again due to its high nutrient value. It’s important to consume quinoa as a whole food if you want to get its health benefits. It’s a great substitute for rice and oatmeal.
Flavonoids, which are antioxidants, can be found in plant foods. Antioxidants can contribute to better overall health. Quinoa has two flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol, that can help to ease inflammation. Research has also shown anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-depressant effects can be found from these flavonoids. More human research, however, is needed.
high in fiber
Quinoa is very high in fiber. For every one cup of quinoa you can get 17 to 27 grams of fiber, depending on the variety used. Not all of this fiber is useful though. There is a big difference between insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber found in quinoa comes in at about 2.5 grams per cup. Research shows that the soluble fiber from quinoa can lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and aid in weight loss (you stay fuller for longer).
source of protein
Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that contains all the essential amino acids. Protein is comprised of amino acids. When a food has all the essential amino acids it is called a complete protein. It is important to get enough protein from the food you are consuming because we don’t produce essential amino acids on our own. People who are vegetarian or vegan often use quinoa as one of their main sources of protein. For every 1 cup of quinoa there are about 8 grams of protein. If you are trying to cut down on meat consumption adding quinoa to your diet could be a good substitute.
high in minerals
Quinoa has very high levels of 4 very important minerals — magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron. We often don’t get enough of these minerals in our diet. Eating quinoa is a good way to make sure you get more minerals. They key is to soak the quinoa before you cook it. Quinoa has a high phytic acid content. Phytic acid can limit the absorption of minerals. But if you soak the quinoa before cooking you cut down on the phytic acid.
high in antioxidants
Antioxidants help fight disease and can slow down the again process. This is because they neutralize free radicals which cause damage to our cells. Quinoa is very high in antioxidants so consuming it can be hugely beneficial.