You may have seen it sitting on the supermarket shelf and were not quite sure what to make of it. Or perhaps you’ve heard about it from someone as THE food for losing weight, for fighting migraine, for preventing heart disease and so on. Quinoa is certainly making itself known in a big way. This little seed is so jam-packed with goodness, it is definitely worth the effort to get to know more about this superfood.
We usually think of quinoa as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a plant and is related to beets, chard and spinach. This means it’s high in protein and fibre and provides balanced energy and satiety
One cup of cooked quinoa contains 222 calories and 4 g of fat. It offers 39 g of carbohydrates and 5 g of fiber. Quinoa is considered a complete protein, meaning that like meat, fish and soy, contains all the amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own in the proper ratios. Other grains are not complete proteins. Among the dozens of minerals and vitamins it provides, quinoa offers 15 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for iron, 19 percent for folate, 58 percent for manganese, 28 percent for phosphorus and 30 percent for magnesium.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
1. Good for the Heart
Quinoa is a very good source of magnesium, the mineral that relaxes blood vessels. Since low dietary levels of magnesium are associated with increased rates of hypertension, ischemic heart disease and heart arrhythmias, this ancient grain can offer yet another way to provide cardiovascular health for those concerned about atherosclerosis.
2. Help relieve migraine
If you are prone to migraines, try adding quinoa to your diet. Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels, preventing the constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines. Increased intake of magnesium has been shown to be related to a reduced frequency of headache episodes reported by migraine sufferers. Quinoa is also a good source of riboflavin, which is necessary for proper energy production within cells. Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2) has been shown to help reduce the frequency of attacks in migraine sufferers, most likely by improving the energy metabolism within their brain and muscle cells.
3. Prevent Gallsones
Quinoa is high in insoluble dietary fibre, which has been shown to lessen the occurrence ofgallstones by reducing the stagnation of bile and lowering the total blood triglycerides, which are two of the major components to gall stone formation. Quinoa is a great way to get fibre from a gluten-free source.
4. Promotes healthy bone growth
Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids used by the body as building blocks for the development of muscle tissue and necessary metabolic enzymes. Protein is also necessary for the absorption of calcium into the bones and the development of collagen, as well as for the growth factors involved in healthy growth of the bone matrix.
5. Lose weight
Quinoa’s high fiber content can help you feel full, which helps you stick to a low-calorie diet. The protein in quinoa can also increase feelings of satiation, rev your metabolism and lead to more stable blood-sugar levels, reducing cravings, reports the Harvard School of Public Health. Eating whole grains, such as quinoa, in lieu of refined grains can also help you reduce belly fat. A study in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” published in 2008 found that dieters who emphasized whole grains in their diet experienced a greater decrease in body fat at the abdomen than those who ate only refined grains. Quinoa is also gluten-free, making it appropriate for most dieters.
How to Enjoy
As for preparation, the simplest way is to cook quinoa like pasta: Fill a large pot or saucepan with water, and bring it to a boil. Add just about any amount of quinoa, turn the heat to low, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the water and allow the quinoa to cool.
Cook up a big batch and store it in Tupperware in your refrigerator, and you’ll have a ready-to-eat side dish like rice or pasta that goes with just about any meal. (To warm, microwave it for 60 seconds). If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try out the following:
- Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
- Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
- Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups.
- Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.