Quinoa is one of the most popular ”superfoods” available today. It dates back more than 4000 years ago when it was the most important food in the Inca Empire. The Inca believes that quinoa increases strength and stamina and was widely use in the days of war. It is mainly harvested in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Colombia. Its popularity is growing every day due to its health benefits.
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed and belongs to the group of pseudo-cereals that makes it neither a cereal nor a grain. It also belongs to the chenopod family that makes it closely related to spinach, chard, and beets. There are three types of quinoa: white(sometimes called ivory quinoa), red and black quinoa. Here are 10 quinoa health benefits of this incredible superfood:
Gluten intolerance awareness is growing every day more than 50 diseases have been linked to gluten; and its effect on the digestive system. Quinoa is a 100% gluten-free seed and it is a great substitute for pasta and other grains and cereals. You can also use gluten free pasta/flour made from pure quinoa seeds if you are following a gluten-free diet.
When it comes to protein content, not many plant foods can compare to quinoa. It contains all the essential amino acids (including Lysine)that our body can’t produce naturally which makes it a complete protein. One cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein making it a great source for a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Rich Mineral Source
Quinoa is extremely nutritious. It is super rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. According to nutritionists, quinoa contains 148 mg of calcium, 13 mg of iron, and 4.4 mg of zinc per 100 gram compared to rice that contains 6.9 mg of calcium, 0.7 mg of iron and 0.6 mg of zinc per 100 gram. Incorporating quinoa in your everyday diet will help meet your daily mineral recommendation.
High In Fiber
Less than 2% of people meet the daily needs of fiber from their everyday diet. Fiber is really essential as it improves and regulates digestion and controls appetite. Quinoa is a great source of fiber–one cup contains nearly 8 grams. Adding it into your daily diet can help you regulate your digestive system and keep you fuller for a longer period of time.
Quinoa contains the powerful and beneficial antioxidants flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol. Sometimes the concentration of these antioxidants in quinoa are greater than antioxidants found in fresh fruits like berries. Antioxidant activity helps with fighting free radicals, benefit heart health and have the anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effect on the body.
Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Low glycemic foods with a glycemic index lower than 55 support healthy blood sugar levels and protect you from developing type 2 diabetes. Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate that has a low glycemic index that ranges from 35-52(depends on how you cook it). Since it is low in the glycemic index it will help you control your blood sugar levels and regulate your appetite.
Quinoa is a very versatile food and can be added to almost every meal whether its breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between. It can be added as a side dish instead of rice, to different kinds of salads, soups, or stir-frys. For breakfast, it’s add in waffles, muffins and also it’s for making puddings, cakes, chocolates and different kind of energy bars as a healthy and delicious dessert or snack.
Low In Calories
Quinoa is low in calories, with one cup cooked quinoa containing only 170 calories making it a really diet-friendly food. For a number of calories that it contains and the nutrition that it delivers it is considered a golden food. You don’t have to worry about overeating quinoa, you can simply add greens, a few nuts or beans and make it a complete low-calorie meal that can help you with weight loss without starving yourself.
Alkaline Forming Food
Alkaline forming foods that have pH more than 7 help the body keep the natural pH and naturalize and eliminate excess acid. When it’s at a good pH level, the body is in a healthy condition. On the other hand, having a low pH level causes a lot of health problems and diseases like different types of cancers and kidney disorders. Quinoa is an alkaline forming food with pH of 7.5 and can benefit you in maintaining a healthy body environment.
Skin and Hair Booster
Quinoa is rich in Lysine that promotes elastin and collagen production. These two proteins are known to greatly benefit hair and skin health. Elastin and collagen are especially important in helping with skin scars and recovering faster from surgery. The protein found in quinoa encourages hair growth, nourishes the hair follicles from within and also revitalize the hair scalp.