Technically speaking, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a pseudo-cereal, the name given to foods that are cooked and eaten like grains and have a similar nutrient profile. Many erroneously refer to this superfood as a wholegrain but it is actually a highly proteinous seed.
Numerous scientific studies have shown the unmistakable benefits of adding quinoa to your diet. For example, a Harvard School of Public Health Study which followed more than 367,000 people over a period of 14 years, showed that eating a bowl of quinoa a day may lower your risk of premature death from diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease by as much as 17 percent.
Quinoa is not only gluten-free, but is also one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids.It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
Below is a list of health benefits of quinoa as populated by Nature’s Lab® experts:
- Highly Nutritious – In 2013, in recognition of quinoa’s potentital to contribute to food security worldwide due to its high nutrient value, the United Nations deemed it fit to declare the year “The International Year of Quinoa”.This is the nutrient content in 1 cup (185 grams). This applies to cooked quinoa:
- Protein: 8 grams.
- Fiber: 5 grams.
- Manganese: 58% of the 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 B1, B2 and B6.
- Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.
This is coming with a total of 222 calories, with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. It also contains a small amount of omega-3-fatty acids.You may find it interesting to know that quinoa is being considered as a crop to be grown in space by NASA scientists due to its high nutrient content, versatility and easy growth.
- A complete protein -Due to the fact that quinoa supplies all of the nine essential amoni acids required by the body, it is called a ‘complete’ protein. It is a particularly good source of lysine, which is important for immune system health, muscle repair, and may even reduce anxiety.
- A great source of Quercetin & Kaempferol – These two micronutrients belong to the family called flavonoids. Flavonoids are anti-oxidant molecules that have been scientifically proven to provide a wide range of health benefits in the body. Animal studies have shown these two flavonoids to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects. Quercetin is nature’s antihistamine, making quinoa a great for people suffering from allergies. Kaempferol on the other hand may be great at fighting cancer and lowering risk of chronic diseases.
- Great for blood sugar control – Glycaemic Index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise the blood sugar level. Quinoa has a low GI which is good for blood sugar control. Eating high GI foods can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity. Such foods can also predispose individuals to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. With a GI of 53, quinoa is considered to be a low GI food.
- Helps with weight loss – The potent combination of quinoa’s high protein, low GI and high fibre content results in a synergistic effect that may positively enhance weight loss. Quinoa’s high protein content helps to increase metabolism and reduce appetite significantly. Its low GI characteristics means better blood sugar regulation and reduced rates of hunger pangs. Its high fibre content makes you feel fuller for longer.
- Extremely versatile – You don’t need to be a professional chef to incorporate quinoa into your diet. There are loads of recipes available online. It can be eaten on its own, sprinkled on your salads, or mixed in a variety of ways. Nature’s Lab® recommends soaking and rinsing it with water before boiling in order to get rid of the saponins which are slightly bitter in taste. In as little as 15 minutes, you’re good to go.
- A source of healthy fatty acids – Close to 30 percent of the fatty acids in quinoa come from oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil and linked to reduced blood pressure and heart disease risk. About 5 percent of quinoa’s fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a beneficial form of plant-based omega 3’s. Most foods lose their healthy fatty acids when oxidized, but quinoa’s nutrients remain intact even when boiled.
- Anti-inflammatory properties – Research into the effects of daily quinoa consumption in rats shows that the phenolic acids in quinoa offer powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Compare this to most grains, which tend to increase levels of inflammation in the body.
Our experts at Nature’s Lab would like to leave you with some tasty quinoa recipes taken from the Whole Grains Council website:
- Coconut-Spiked Pork with Quinoa and Peanuts
- Quinoa Corn Chowder with Shrimp
- Quinoa Tabbouleh
- Cut the Fat, Keep the Creamy Pasta Carbonara
- Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers
- Black Quinoa Asian Slaw
- Peruvian Quinoa Shrimp Chicharrones with Green Aji Sauce
- Tangy Quinoa Salad
- Chilled Avocado and Red Quinoa Soup
The following WGC member websites feature additional quinoa recipes you may enjoy:
Look out for our online store in the near future. You will be able to purchase Nature’s Lab recommended organic quinoa and other products carefully selected by our experts for your health benefits.