Quinoa is a nutrient rich food and has many health benefits. Right from controlling weight and acting as a great substitute for protein and in gluten-free diets, it can also help prevent gallstones, kidney stones, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. It protects many organs in the body and is rich in antioxidants and low in fat.
Quinoa is essentially a seed and not a grain. Because of this fact it is known a pseudocereal. It is part of the goosefoot family and is becoming increasingly popular across the world. Despite the fact that it has to be imported, it is being used increasingly in the United States, Canada, Europe, and China. The reason for this spike in popularity is that Quinoa is nutrient rich and can be used in a variety of recipes. It is a healthy food which has very low fat-content, and is therefore used as a healthy substitute in most diets.It is cultivated in the Andean region, specifically in countries like Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru. Its cultivation works in a yearly cycle, with grains being harvested once each year. They can be consumed whole or they can be ground into flour and then sold. Both forms are popular across the globe. In the last decade, the government of Peru has been offering incentives to farmers to increase the production of quinoa and similar crops because of their commercial value, which is inspired by its outstanding nutritional qualities.
Quinoa is genuinely a wonder food, as its national value proves. A 100 gram helping of quinoa provides 368 kcal of energy. It contains approximately 64 grams of carbohydrates and only 6.1 grams of fat, of which it only contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and is completely devoid of saturated fats. Additionally, it also comprises 14.1 grams of proteins. It is abundant in a number of minerals as well. A 100 gram serving of quinoa alone can provide the body with 95%, 65%, 55%, 35%, and 33% of the daily value of manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and zinc, respectively. Further, it can also provide the body with 46%, 38%, 31%, and 27% of daily value in folate (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, thiamine (vitamin B1), and riboflavin (vitamin B2), respectively. It is also abundant in essential amino acids.
Although the actual protein content of quinoa is not high, the value it nevertheless adds is quite high. It contains essential amino acids such as tryptophan, lysine, and methionine. Since these compounds cannot be synthesized by the human body, it needs an external source that can provide these nutrients. While other grains may offer one or the other of these essential amino acids, quinoa is valuable because it provides all of them.
Of the 7 grams of fiber available in 100 grams of quinoa, most of it is insoluble. Insoluble fiber is essential to the human body as it stimulates healthy digestion. Not only does it facilitate healthy and regular bowel movement, it also treats and prevents other gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, gas, flatulence, and bloating pain.
Carbohydrates are one of the biggest components of our regular intake of food. However, studies have shown that cereals like wheat, rice, and even oats induce more hunger. On the other hand, healthy alternatives like amaranthus and quinoa do not induce an urge to eat more. As it controls overeating, it automatically controls body weight. It is a great dietary addition for those who are on weight loss diet regimens. They can supplement weight loss exercise regimens as well. Its high insoluble fiber content is what impacts and increases the feeling of satiety. Animal studies have found that consuming quinoa results in better glucose processing, higher expenditure of energy, and less fat absorption in the blood. Quinoa is also high in manganese, which impacts digestive hormones and enzymes, which empowers the digestive processes of the body. Other studies reveal that eating quinoa regularly can prevent the onset of obesity.
People who follow a gluten-free diet can easily consume quinoa. A study of patients of celiac disease, who consumed quinoa, showed that it was nutritionally better than rice as quinoa provided the required intake of protein, calcium, iron, and fiber. Their diet was more balanced than when they consumed rice, thus better meeting the dietary requirements caused by their condition.
Antioxidant rich foods, such as quinoa, are great in reducing the chance of developing cancer. Quinoa has three unique nutrients that when consumed by cancer patients, can cause death of the mutated cells. The first of these nutrients, which is actually called an antinutrient, is saponin. While an excess of this compound can have an adverse effect on healthy cells, it causes cell death of cancerous cells in glioblastoma, leukemia, and lymphoma patients when consumed moderately. The second active nutrient is lunasin, which is particularly effective as it only affects mutated cells and not healthy cells. The final super-nutrient is an antioxidant known as quercetin, which fights the buildup of free radicals in the body and controls the spread of lung cancer. Quinoa is known as one of the best anti-inflammatory foods because of its high quercetin content.
The compounds in quinoa positively affect the lipid profile in the body. Additionally, it is known to have reduced the adverse effects of fructose on the level of glucose in the body. This in turn works to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the body.
As discussed, quinoa is high on protein value as well as carbohydrate content. Its low glycemic value, therefore, is another benefit. It also contains considerable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. These properties work together to maintain the health of the cardiovascular system. It prevents the accumulation of toxins in the body. Additionally, it keeps blood vessels clear and open.
The calcium content present in quinoa is similar to that of dairy products. However, it has the added benefit of working in favor of people who are averse to dairy products. Regularly consuming quinoa can prevent the development of bone conditions such as osteoporosis. It improves bone density and keeps bones in good health.
There are two active ingredients in quinoa that contribute greatly to reducing the risk of developing gallstones and kidney stones. The first is its fiber content and the other is the presence of antioxidants. These two things regulate the secretion of bile juice and the buildup of toxins in the body, which prevents the body from creating gallstones and kidney stones.
The antioxidants in quinoa, such as polyphenols, total phenolics, and anthocyanins, do more than protect the kidney. It also protects the heart, liver, pancreas, and lungs against oxidant activities. In fact, compared to other pseudocereals such as amaranthus, quinoa has higher levels of antioxidants. The antioxidant properties are exaggerated when quinoa seeds are germinated and consumed as sprouts.
As mentioned earlier, a 100 gram serving of quinoa can constitute 55% of the daily value of magnesium. Dietary magnesium has been known to have many positive effects on the body, including controlling asthma, regulating sugar levels in the blood, improving cardiovascular health, and a reduction in the risk of developing osteoporosis.
By reducing the levels of sugar in the blood, quinoa can greatly benefit diabetes patients. It is a known fact that controlling and treating diabetes requires a regular intake of insulin which works to regulate blood sugar levels, especially after meals. A regular intake of quinoa can reduce the amount of insulin required by the body, thus decreasing the mental stress of a diabetic lifestyle on patients.
Quinoa is not consumed raw. In fact, the recommended way to use quinoa is to rinse it thoroughly until there is no more soapy, foam residue in the container. This soapy residue comes from its saponin content, which can negatively impact healthy cells if consumed in high amounts.Quinoa requires some form of cooking, whether it is roasting or boiling. However, it can also be consumed after it is soaked overnight. Sprouted quinoa seeds are equally beneficial to health. It is usually used in savory preparations and is very versatile in the way it is used. Quinoa can also be ground to be used as flour. This form of consumption is particularly popular in gluten-free diets, as it usually can be turned into flatbread. However, most people prefer to prepare it simply by adding it to a salad. It acts as a crunchy element in the dish while also giving flavor and nutrition.
One of the most common side effects of quinoa is digestive discomfort. Quinoa contains a compound known as saponin. When consumed in large amounts, this saponin can affect the inner lining of the intestines and can contribute to the leaky gut syndrome.
Quinoa has been grown for ages and is used mainly for its edible seeds. It has been cultivated in the Andes for the last 7,000 years. Various subspecies of the quinoa are highly adaptable and thrive in a variety of climates and altitudes. Its cultivation is steeped deeply in Incan culture. The first seeds of the year were always sown by the Incan emperor of the day. It was the only other major cereal in the Incan diet, apart from maize.