What Are The Health Benefits Of Quinoa?

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Have you tried including quinoa for your dinner? Quinoa is a pseudocereal, their seeds can be ground into flour and consumed.

The nutrient composition of Quinoa is favorable compared with common cereals earning the Quinoa grain the title of being called a “super food”.

Nutritional evaluations indicate that quinoa is a source of complete protein. It contains all the essential amino acids required in a human diet in correct proportions.

Other similar pseudo grains derived from seeds are similar in complete protein levels. Buckwheat is 18% protein compared to 14% for Quinoa while Amaranth, a related species to Quinoa, ranges from 12 to 17.5%.

quinoa

Where Does It Grow?

It originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption and found its place into the humble Indian household (albeit being an upper-middle-class commodity).

It gained popularity and has been cultivated away from natural distribution in places like the United States, Australia, and Japan to name a few.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits of Quinoa?

Essential Amino Acids

Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and acceptable quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.

A study showed that deficiency of essential amino acids leads to symptoms of nervousness, exhaustion, and dizziness to a greater or lesser extent and moderate consumption of Quinoa can help avoid such symptoms.

A study showed that deficiency of essential amino acids leads to symptoms of nervousness, exhaustion, and dizziness to a greater or lesser extent and moderate consumption of Quinoa can help avoid such symptoms.

Anti-Inflammatory

Quinoa consists of a unique combination of anti-inflammatory compounds that show to an extent the decreased risk of inflammation-related problems (including obesity) when animals under study are fed quinoa on a daily basis.

The list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa is now known to include:
  • Polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonan
  • Hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids
  • Flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol which are found in concentrated levels often higher than those of high flavonoid berries like cranberry or lingonberry
  • Saponins including molecules derived from an oleanic acid, hederagenin, and serjanic acid.
  • Small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also provided by quinoa.

Gluten Free

It is high in protein and lacks gluten which is good news for those who suffer from Celiac disease which is an autoimmune disease attacking the small intestine due to the presence of gluten for which the only remedy is maintaining a gluten-free diet.

While scientists are yet to confirm whether oats are a gluten-free food, it is safe to say that Quinoa, like amaranth, is gluten free and good for your health as it is considered easy to digest.

Because of these characteristics, it is being considered a possible crop for long-duration human occupied spaceflights undertaken by NASA.

High in Protein

The protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice (Indian rice) and oats.

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).

High in Fiber

The grain is additionally a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.

Vegan-Friendly and Good For Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant

It is also a source of calcium, and thus, is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

quinoa salad

How to Prepare Quinoa?

The grain may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value, provided that the grains are rinsed thoroughly to remove any saponin that contains an unpalatable bitterness which in turn aids during cultivation as it wards off birds reducing the need for protecting it.

The seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

This is another starchy protein that is great when served like a part of a stir-fry. It can also be served as a hot cereal or as a topping on a salad. One-half cup of quinoa has about 7 to 9 grams of protein.

The good news is processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to significantly compromise the quality of quinoa’s fatty acids, allowing us to enjoy its cooked texture and flavor while maintaining this nutrient benefit.

The leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is limited. In some forms, the seeds are softened making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

What Makes Quinoa Special?

While it may be called a “Pseudo-cereal” there is nothing fake about the health benefits of Quinoa.

In fact, 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.”

some quinoa recipes

Quinoa with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups water

1 cup canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1 tomato, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons lime juice

4 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

 

Instructions

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse under cold, running water until the water no longer foams.

Bring the quinoa, salt, and water to a boil in a saucepan.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Once done, stir in the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil.

Season with cumin, salt, and pepper.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley to serve.

 

Spiced Quinoa

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 (14 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot

water and drained (optional)

 

Instructions

Stir together the olive oil, onion, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until then onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the quinoa, curry powder, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes until the quinoa is tender.

Once the quinoa has finished cooking, stir in the drained garbanzo beans, toasted pine nuts, and raisins. Serve warm or cold.

 

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 cup corn

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 large tomato, diced

1/2 cup fresh lime juice, or to taste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon adobo seasoning

1/2 cup feta cheese

salt and black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water, and drain.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook and stir the  quinoa until the water has evaporated and the quinoa is lightly  toasted, about 3 minutes.

Pour in the chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the broth, about 10 minutes.

Cool quinoa in refrigerator at least 10 minutes.

Mix together green pepper, red onion, corn, black beans, cilantro, tomato, lime juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, adobo seasoning, and feta cheese in a large salad bowl.

Lightly stir in the quinoa, and season with salt, pepper, and additional lime juice to taste, if  desired.

Chill the salad at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold.

 


POINTS TO REMEMBER

Quinoa is a pseudo cereal. It is a source of complete protein.

It also contains high levels of amino acids such as methionine, lysine, and cysteine.

What are the nutritional benefits of quinoa?

  • Essential Amino Acids
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Gluten Free
  • High in Protein
  • High in Fiber

How to prepare quinoa?

The seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

TAKEAWAY QUESTIONS

– Are there any available quinoa products in your area?

– Have you tried including quinoa in your meals?

– Do you have any favorite quinoa recipe?

– What other health benefits of quinoa you might know?


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