Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal closely related to the edible plants beetroot, spinach and amaranth. It is often called as “Mother of all grains”, “Ancient Grain” or “Whole grain”.
Quinoa has been deemed a Super-food as it is a vegetarian source of complete protein (having all 9 types of essential amino acids), high in fiber and is packed with iron. Also, it is the only grain in its natural form which is Gluten-free and also has a very Low Glycemic Index (GI). Quinoa is full of mood and immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, and copper.
The quinoa is called a pseudo-cereal for botanical reasons, but also because of its unusual composition and exceptional balance between oil, protein, and fat. The quinoa is an excellent example of ‘functional food’ that aims at lowering the risk of various diseases. Functional properties are given also by minerals, vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants that can make a strong contribution to human nutrition.
Protein is made out of amino acids. Some of these are called “essential” because our body cannot produce them and we need to get them from the diet. If a food contains all the essential amino acids, it is considered a “complete” protein.
Quinoa as an exception offers all essential amino acids in a healthy, balanced diet, including lysine. Protein nutritional quality is determined by the proportions of essential amino acids. The content of essential amino acids in quinoa is higher than in common cereals.
Quinoa has a high content of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Many minerals in quinoa are found at concentrations greater than that reported for most grain crops. Providing they are found in bioavailable forms, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are found in sufficient quantities for a balanced human diet.
Quinoa is rich in vitamin A, B2 and E. The content of vitamin E in quinoa is important since this vitamin acts as an antioxidant at the cell membrane level, protecting the fatty acids of the cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals
Quinoa is also a grain that is very high in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are also believed to help fight many diseases. Their antioxidant activity protects the kidneys, heart, pancreas, and lungs from oxidative stress.
When added to foods, antioxidants minimize rancidity, delay the formation of toxic oxidation products, maintain nutritional quality and increase shelf life.
Quinoa also helps people in maintaining their iron needs. It is also a tastier option than taking an iron supplement. In just one cup, one gets 15% of the RDA, which is very significant for your body and may also help with iron deficiencies. Iron is essential for brain function and your muscles as well as for preventing anemia.
The glycemic index is used to measure how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods that are high on the glycemic index are known to fluctuate blood sugar levels, stimulate hunger, and contribute to obesity. Such foods have also been associated with many diseases that are common today, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Quinoa has a glycemic index of 53, which is under the 55 required to be considered a food that helps stabilize your blood sugar levels. Therefore, if you are trying to balance diabetes, you can combine quinoa with any other food that is also low on the glycemic index scale. This will help you nourish yourself without worrying about the increase in your blood sugar levels.
Gluten-free diets are recommended for people with celiac disease, a severe gluten intolerance. People who are on a gluten-free diet can have a hard time getting all the essential nutrients they need.
Quinoa being gluten free as well as high in nutritional value comes across as best option for people having celiac disease or Gluten sensitivity.
As we plan for weight loss, we have to take in fewer calories than we burn. It is known that some foods can promote this process, either by increasing metabolism or reducing appetite. Interestingly, if we are on a diet, we will probably be allowed to eat quinoa because it has several such properties.
It is rich in protein, which can both increase metabolism and reduce appetite significantly. Quinoa is high in fiber, which should help you increase the feeling of fullness and makes us eat fewer calories overall. The aforementioned fact that quinoa has a low glycemic index is another important feature for losing weight.
Choosing such foods has been associated with reduced calorie intake. Consuming quinoa will give punch to your weight loss goals due to its high protein content and great fiber levels as well as other vitamins and minerals it contains.
Coronary heart disease is one of the most common diseases today. Thanks to quinoa and other grains rich in magnesium, heart disease can be prevented. Magnesium can be important for preventing cardiovascular disease as well as insulin sensitivity and diabetes.
Quinoa’s high fiber content can help lower cholesterol levels. Fiber stimulates digestion, which requires bile acids that are made partly with cholesterol. As your digestion improves, the liver pulls cholesterol from the blood to produce more bile acid, thereby reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).
Not only can quinoa lower your LDL cholesterol, but it can also benefit your heart in other ways. Quinoa can provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat such as oleic acid, alpha-linolenic acids, and omega-3 fatty acids. Most foods lose their content of healthy fatty acids when oxidized, but quinoa’s nutrients hold up to boiling, steaming, and simmering.
Low Glycemic Index, High Fiber & Low fats are the properties of quinoa which makes it a functional food with great potential in managing Diabetes.
Therefore, if you are trying to manage or control diabetes, you can combine quinoa with any other food that is also low on the glycemic index scale.
What a woman eats when she is pregnant can have a profound and lasting effect on the health of her child. Women cannot provide essential nutrients to her child if she herself is deficient in them.
A pregnant woman’s intake should consist of a variety of foods, including:
Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, quinoa offers all essential amino acids in a healthy balanced diet. Quinoa also helps people in maintaining their iron needs. It is also a tastier option than taking an iron supplement. Quinoa has a high content of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Many minerals in quinoa are found at concentrations greater than that reported for most grain crops.
Therefore an excellent nutrient source during pregnancy.
Quinoa is easy to prepare, and extremely versatile. Generally, the seeds are cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes and salads. It is suited for people from any health and age group as it has nutrition for everyone.
The basic steps of preparing Quinoa are illustrated below: