Quinoa, dubbed the “superfood” or “supergrain,” has gained popularity among health-conscious people for good reason. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah or ke-NO-ah) is a cereal rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is also gluten-free and suitable for people on a gluten-free diet.
This grain is native to Bolivia and the Peruvian Andes. Although it looks like a grain, it is a seed related to Swiss chard, spinach and beets. Quinoa is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and fatty acids, making it a healthy choice. Although it has become popular with vegetarian meal plans, you don’t need to follow a special diet to benefit from this grain.
Discover the nutritional benefits of quinoa
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, quinoa production has recently expanded outside of South America to more than 70 countries. Its crops are grown on a large scale in China, North America, France and India.
According to a 2016 report published in Frontiers in Plant Science, quinoa production has increased across Africa and the Middle East.
The nutritional value
The USDA provides nutritional information for 1 cup (185 g) of cooked quinoa without added salt or oil:
- 222 calories
- Fat: 4g
- Sodium: 13mg
- Carbohydrates: 39g
- Fibers: 5g
- Sugars: 2g
- Protein: 8g
Cooked quinoa contains 39 grams of complex carbohydrates per cup, making it a rich source of energy. It has a glycemic index of less than 55, making it a low glycemic index food. Its high protein and fiber content helps lower blood sugar levels.
Quinoa is high in iron and magnesium and contains potassium and vitamin E. Magnesium is involved in various metabolic activities in the body, including blood sugar regulation.
Iron is a mineral that aids in the transfer of oxygen throughout the body, and vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the body. Finally, potassium helps regulate sodium levels in the blood, which helps lower blood pressure.
The health benefits of quinoa
1) A full-spectrum protein
Quinoa is well known for being one of the few plant foods to provide complete protein, with all of the essential amino acids in a healthy balance. Complete proteins include all essential amino acids in equal amounts, which the body cannot manufacture independently.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Quinoa, unlike other cereals, is an excellent supplier of lysine. It also has a higher protein content than processed grains, at 25%.
2) Helps with blood sugar control
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that relieves hunger, staves off and relieves constipation, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable by allowing food to enter the bloodstream relatively slowly. According to research, people who eat a diet rich in whole grains have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
3) Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Quinoa is a good source of antioxidants compared to other gluten-free grains. Corn, rice, or potato flour make up the majority of gluten-free items. These often provide fewer nutrients than quinoa products, such as quinoa flour.
It is rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of cancer. New studies are published regularly that support the health benefits of whole grains and their antioxidant potential.
4) Cardiovascular health
Although quinoa may help your heart by lowering LDL cholesterol, it may also help your heart in other ways. According to a study published in the Journal of Food Lipids, quinoa seeds contain several of the dietary flavonoids “that have a negative correlation with mortality from heart disease.”
Its oleic acid concentration may contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and alpha-linolenic acids. When most foods are oxidized, their beneficial fatty acids are lost, while quinoa’s nutrients survive boiling, simmering and steaming.
A cup of cooked quinoa provides 21% of the daily fiber recommendation, which is fantastic for your gut. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, it is easier to digest than many other grains. Additionally, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants reported feeling fuller after eating quinoa, buckwheat or oats than after eating wheat or rice.
It has been linked to a few allergic reactions in the past. Many plants, including amaranth seeds, soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes, contain saponins that cause allergies in some people.
Therefore, it is recommended to consult your healthcare professional if you suspect an allergy or experience symptoms after eating quinoa.
Quinoa is increasingly popular in Western countries, yet it has been eaten in South America for thousands of years. It’s technically a seed that, like amaranth and buckwheat, belongs to a small group of grains called “pseudocereals.”
Since it’s high in fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and protein, it’s a smart carb choice. It’s also gluten-free, flavorful, adaptable, and super simple to make. Quinoa is an excellent source of carbohydrates to add to your diet.
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