Quinoa : A prodigous superfood you need to include in your diet today!

quinoa salad

The “mother” of all grains

Appearing as a sudden burst of hues of violet, crimson, and yellow along the backdrop of the gigantic grey mountain ranges of the Andes, quinoa harvests mean much more than a staple diet to the local populace.

First domesticated by the Andes locals, almost 7000 years ago, the quinoa is not only indigenous to the Andean population but also hailed as a sacred bounty of the earth. Legend has it that every harvest season the Incan emperor himself would sow the first seeds of this wonder crop using supposedly gilded tools.

Quinoa plantationsIn recent years, this native South American grain has been trending all over health websites and found its way into every popular cuisine, including sushi (yes, you heard it right!)

So how come this humble crop, a staple of the hardworking Peruvian and Bolivian peasants ended up becoming a popular diet trend all over the world?

The answer is as simple as it can be. This grain is a powerhouse of nutrients.

(Well, aren’t all grains full of nutrients?)

Yes, but with quinoa a whole another level of healthy goodness presents itself, filling in the massive nutritional gaps created by our “modern-diet”.

Let us take a look into what quinoa has in store for us.

Quinoa – A nutritional goodie bag

Before jumping into the many health benefits of quinoa, let us first understand what quinoa really is.

Quinoa is an edible seed of an herbaceous flowering plant of the amaranth family. And much like its distant botanical cousins, the amaranth and the spinach, quinoa is replete with nutrients necessary to sustain a healthy body.

Quinoa is not a cereal. It is an Andean plant, the seeds of which have use analogous to cereals.

Therefore, it is often referred to as pseudo-cereal. Attributed to its high-fat content, it is sometimes referred to as pseudo-oilseed.

There are three main varieties of Quinoa: Black, red and white.

The major reasons for quinoa being counted as one of the top health foods in the world are that it is gluten-free and the only health food that contains all the 9 essential amino acids.

The nutrient-enriched Quinoa plant has a lot to offer when it comes to health. Mentioned below are some amazing health benefits that the plant renders

  • Power packed with nutrients and amino acids

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nutrient database for standard reference, release 21, the nutrients in 1 cup (185gms) of cooked quinoa are as follows:

  • Protein- 8.1 gm
  • Total fat- 3.6 gms
  • Total carbohydrates- 39.4 gms
  • Fiber- 5.2 gm
  • Calcium- 31.5 mg
  • Iron- 2.8 mg
  • Magnesium- 118 mg
  • Phosphorus- 281 mg
  • Potassium- 318 mg
  • Sodium- 13 mg
  • Zinc- 2 mg
  • Copper- 0.4 mg
  • Manganese- 1.2 mg
  • Selenium- 5.2 mcg
  • Folate- 77.7mcg
  • Vitamin A- 9.3 IU
  • Vitamin E- 1.2 mg
  • Total Calories- 222

It also has traces of Omega 3 fatty acids.

  • High protein content and presence of all essential amino acids

quinoa typesAmino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Amino acids are classified as essential and non-essential based on their synthesis in the body. The important amino acids that are not synthesized in the body and should be obtained from external sources are known as essential amino acids.

Quinoa contains all the 9 essential amino acids and is thereby considered as a complete protein.

The amino acid lysine is usually not present in all grains.

It participates in the process of tissue repair and growth. Quinoa is superior to most of the grains in terms of quantity and quality of the protein. It is an exceptional source of plant-based proteins for vegetarians and vegans.

Based on how they affect blood sugar levels, carbohydrates present in food have been relatively ranked. This is known as the glycemic index.

Foods with low glycemic index (less than 55) are metabolized, digested, and absorbed slowly. Therefore, they cause a slow rise in the blood sugar levels and eventually the insulin levels increase slowly. Quinoa has a low GI of 53.

Foods with high GI stimulate hunger and eventually lead to obesity. They are linked to diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiac diseases.

  • Boon for gluten intolerant individuals

Gluten intolerant individuals have to settle for food made of refined starches.

Quinoa being naturally gluten-free is a healthy alternative to such gluten-free food products like refined tapioca, rice flour, corn starch etc.

Gluten-free food items made from Quinoa can add to the nutrient and antioxidant value of the diet.

It also helps to maintain and regulate the metabolic pathways and processes of the body.

  • Rich fiber content

Quinoa is rich in fiber content. Unfortunately, it has a high level of insoluble fiber as well.

The soluble fiber helps in weight loss, increased satiety, regulation of blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.

1 cup (100 gm) of quinoa contains approximately 2.5gm of soluble fiber. The amount of fiber reduces when the quinoa is boiled. Total fiber content comes up to 17-27 grams per 100 gm of quinoa.

  • Rich source of magnesium

Owing to high magnesium content, quinoa consumption can lead to several health benefits like alleviation of migraines, relaxation of blood vessels, healthy blood sugar level control, regulation of body temperature, and assistance in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Additionally, magnesium helps in the production of energy, maintenance of healthy bones and teeth and detoxification of the body.

  • High manganese content

Quinoa has high manganese content.

Manganese being a potent antioxidant protects the mitochondria (powerhouse of the cell) from oxidative damage during the catabolic process or during the energy production.

Additionally, it protects the red blood cells from the damage caused by free radicals circulating in the blood.

  • Source of plant-based antioxidants- flavonoids

Quinoa recipesQuinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids namely- quercetin and kaempferol.

These antioxidants are believed to exhibit anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-depressant, and anti-viral properties.

  • Source of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

As quinoa is a rich source of vitamin B2, it augments metabolism and energy liberation in the muscle and the brain cells.

  • Source of iron

Presence of iron helps in the formation of hemoglobin.

Optimum iron levels aid in the functioning of the brain, synthesis of neurotransmitters and regulation of enzyme activity.

Quinoa – A Holistic Plant

In addition to being a source of a superfood, the Quinoa plant can be used to reap several other benefits as well.

  • Medicinal

The plant is supposed to exhibit medicinal properties.

The natives of the Andean civilization have been using the stem, leaves, and grains of the plant for various medicinal purposes such as- to reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling, for wound healing, for reduction of pain (chiefly toothache), disinfection of the urinary tract, to arrest internal bleeding etc.

  • Pharmaceutical

The compound- “Saponin”, extracted from the bitter variants of the quinoa plant can alter the permeability of the intestines. This property of the plant can help in better absorption of certain medications.

  • Nutraceutical

A concentrate made from the protein content extracted from the quinoa plant is the prospective nutritional supplement and a rich source of protein of plant origin.

  • Industrial

It can serve as a potent substitute for the chemically modified starch owing to its remarkable stability in freeze-thaw conditions and smaller dimension of the starch grain.

Some of the places where it can be used are- self-copy paper, excipients in the plastic industry, pulps, dessert foods, talcum powder, aerosol production, etc.

  • Others

The stem and the leaves of the plant can be used as a natural insect repellent.

The saponins extracted from the pericarp of the bitter variants of the Quinoa plant can be used as bio-pesticides.

The property of foaming in aqueous solutions makes it useful for the manufacture of soaps, detergents, shampoos, toothpaste etc.

Other distinctive features of quinoa

Quinoa has been considered by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) as a crop of the future which is ideal for cultivation on spacecraft for long-term space missions. It has the following distinctive properties which make it stand out from the rest:

  • Eco-friendly crop

It is easily adaptable to climate changes. Thus, it is being considered as the crop of choice when the world is heading towards climate changes.

  • Malleability

The plant has a unique quality of adapting to various climatic conditions. It can sustain temperature ranges from -4 degrees to 35 degrees Celsius. It can thrive from sea level to a height 4000 meters above sea level.

  • Flexibility in growth conditions

Certain variants of quinoa can tolerate drought-like conditions and are resistant to salinity. Additionally, quinoa can be grown in highlands as well as lowlands making it the first crop choice for lands with unfavorable conditions.

  • Low production cost

Since the plant is quite adaptable to extreme climates and adverse conditions, the production cost is low and does not hurt the pocket of the farmer.

15 minutes to fitness – How to eat the crunchy quinoa

quinoa saladQuinoa has a delicate earthy or nutty taste. It has two variants bitter and sweet. The bitterness can be attributed to the compound- saponin which is present in it.

 It has a unique chewy texture which imparts crunchiness to all its preparations.

Yet another advantage of having quinoa in your kitchen pantry is that unlike its other healthy counterparts such as brown rice that takes more than 25 minutes to cook, quinoa is ready within 10-15 minutes.

While for most people quinoa cooked in plain water could be more on the blander side, cooking quinoa in vegetable or chicken broth adds a unique flavor to it.

Most quinoa lovers add a pinch of spice such as crushed pepper or thyme along with salt and a dash of lime to make it more palatable.

Many prefer sweetening it up just like oatmeal. You can add milk and a top it with a serving of your favorite foods and voila, you have made yourself a super quick healthy breakfast!

For the gourmet food lovers, feel free to add cheese, breadcrumbs, and vegetables to it. Similarly, quinoa has also found its way into the recipe of a hearty bowl of vegetarian chili. Be it muffins, porridges, soups, vegan burgers, or even granolas – quinoa has indeed secured its place as a hugely palatable and nutritiously rewarding wholesome grain.

As a mark of recognition, the United Nations had announced the year 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa (IYQ)”. This recognition was dedicated to the native people of the Andes region who have preserved the legacy of quinoa as food for the generations to come. Also, they have also been lauded for implemented ethical farming practices making quinoa farming organic, gluten-free, fair trade, and whole grain.

Quinoa – The Dark Side

Though there is no denying that quinoa wholly justifies its title of being the “chisoya mama” or “the mother of all grains”, there are certain facts that should be considered before inculcating quinoa in your diet

  • Wash off the saponins

The compound called saponin extracted from the pericarp of the bitter variants of the quinoa plant can lead to stomach upset, severe indigestion or stomach ache. Hence, it is advised to wash the seeds thoroughly in running water before cooking them.

  • Triglyceride-lowering effect

Though the triglyceride-lowering effect of the quinoa is a positive aspect of the quinoa diet, individuals on triglyceride lowering medications should be cautious and consult a registered dietician before consuming quinoa on a regular basis.

  • Antioxidant supplements

Individuals taking antioxidant supplements should also be cautious while inculcating quinoa in the routine diet as it is a rich source of antioxidants.

Quinoa – From the ancient to the modern world

The Spanish conquests of South America in the 16th century resulted in an unfair suppression of quinoa cultivation.

The colonials dubbed this crop as a “food for Indians”, thereby almost wiping out its existence from the chapters of history.

However, nothing could stop this crop from growing (sparingly so) and much later, during the 1980s quinoa witnessed it much deserved revival.

It wasn’t long before farmers, nutritionists, scientists, and marketers realized its true potential as a crop of healthy abundance and thus quinoa regained its former glory. Today, you cannot flip a health magazine without seeing a mention of this highly nutritious superfood.

So the only question is – when do you kick-start your own quinoa meal routine?




Related Posts

Trending Topics

hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders?…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media?…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does…
low carb foods spinach
Low carb vegetables: A complete list of what to pick from during a keto diet Is your plate of veggies making you fat? Are all vegetables created equal? Research reveals…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing…
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar…
waking up tired
10 reasons why you might be waking up tired Do you feel you are not getting enough sleep? Sleep-deprived and frustrated? Read on discover…
anal sex
Anal sex: Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing…
canola oil cooking
Canola oil: How safe is it to consume this popular cooking oil? Extracted from rapeseeds, Canola oil derives its name from Canadian Oil. Did you know that…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know…
cold flu sinus treatment
How to beat the common cold, flu, and sinus infection instantly? Can you guess some of the easiest tricks to treat cold and sinus infections? How…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too!…
chia seeds weight loss
Chia seeds: How to consume this staple Aztec food to get a leaner body Chia seeds: What is the actual reason for its sudden popularity? Why are celebrities swearing…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking…
Whole30 diet fad
Whole30 Diet – Why eliminating certain foods just doesn’t cut it Whole30 Diet: Is this the ‘whole’-y grail of a disease-free body? Read more to find…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did…
Panera bread steak arugula
Panera Bread: The truth behind this “healthy” restaurant chain What to order and what to avoid when dining at Panera Bread ? Know more…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However,…
Nitric oxide: Why is this heart-healthy supplement every sportsman’s first choice? Once considered a vastly toxic substance, nitric oxide is now deemed to be a great…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why…
Ketosis bad breath
Ketosis: A potentially dangerous side effect of the popular keto diet? Ketosis occurs when you have too low carb intake. Though it means rapid fat loss,…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling…
stress adverse effects
Fight, flight, or freeze: 8 ways stress can ruin your body Did you know that stress is in-built in our systems? It helped our ancestors respond…
top 5 deadliest cancers
A sneak peek into the top 5 deadliest cancers and the true nature of their origins Did you know that cancer is the 2nd leading cause of deaths globally? Among the…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can…
Potassium healthy
Potassium: How only 100 mg a day can dramatically increase your lifespan! The word potassium comes from the process where wood ashes were stored in pots for…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail…
CBD oil safe
Cannabidiol benefits: Evaluating the “highs” of CBD Oil The word cannabis paints a picture of addicts. But did you know that CBD oil,…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss.…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be.…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you…
Healthy pregnancy tips
How to have a healthy pregnancy: Essential tips to remember What to expect when growing a life within you? How important are prenatal vitamins anyway?…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity ,…
Military diet
Military Diet : Why following a highly restrictive diet is a bad idea Is seiging your calorie intake the right way to attack fats? Read more about Military…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does…
Kale: With more iron than beef, this superfood is the ultimate way to lose weight Checkmate meat-eaters; with kale, vegans now have the ultimate iron-rich superfood as their ally that…

Related Posts