Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain that man added to his menu about 7,000 years back. This popular health food is native to Peru and has the botanical name of Chenopodium quinoa. Though considered a grain, quinoa is a seed. Upon cooking, quinoa becomes soft and fluffy, and people use it in the place of rice.
It has a slightly nutty taste, and you can make it into bread or pasta from the flour or the flakes. The colour of the quinoa can range from red, white, and purple to pink, yellow, green, orange, gray, yellow, and black. This plant food contains all the nine essential amino acids.
Quinoa nutrition content
In 1 cup of quinoa (185 grams) you have 222 calories. The breakup of the ingredients is as follows:
- Carbohydrates: 39.6 grams
- Dietary fibre: 5.3 grams
- Starch: 32.6 grams
- Proteins and amino acids: 8 grams
- Fat: 3.6 grams
- Vitamin A: 9.3 IU
- Vitamin E: 1.2 mg
- Riboflavin: 2 mg
- Thiamine: 2 mg
- Niacin: 8 mg
- Vitamin B6: 2 mg
- Folate: 8 mcg
- 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
Quinoa health benefits
Reduces diabetes risk
Whole grains are rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, and minerals. A study conducted at the Harvard University determined that the people who ate whole grain (at least 34 grams per 1000 kcal per day) lowered their risk of premature death by 17%. This result covered all eventualities and factors such as gender, smoking, physical activity, and age. It is gluten free and packed with nutrition. Further, the glycaemic index of Chenopodium is low which means you will not feel heavy after eating it. The dietary fibre helps to add mass to the food without contributing to the sugar. This is good for diabetic patients to keep their sugar under control.
It has good amounts of protein and fibre. Quinoa also has minerals and vitamins to keep your body functioning well. It has flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol that help fight inflammations. The Omega-3 fats help to maintain the healthy level of fats in the body. Further, it has alpha-linolenic acid that also fights inflammation.
The fibre in quinoa pulls the toxins and wastes out. This helps keep your digestive tract clean. In this way, the quinoa in your diet will help you tackle various digestive disorders such as GERD, gastric ulcers, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis. The fibre in the quinoa helps to coat the internal walls of the digestive tract and provide a smooth passage for the food. Quinoa has both insoluble and soluble fibre. It helps keep water in the large intestine. This helps the digestive process. The soluble fibre helps to move the cholesterol from the intestines.
Quinoa is only slightly high in calories. For instance, a cup of cooked quinoa will have 222 Calories. The Calories in a large slice of bread is 78. To burn 26 Calories, you need to walk for 6 minutes. The high protein content of quinoa helps boost the metabolic rate. This helps your body burn more calories. The fibre keeps you feeling full. So, you can resist the temptation to eat more. Added to that, the glycaemic index of quinoa is low – you will not carry too much sugar in your blood.
Those with celiac disease need gluten free diet. All seeds have lectin, a gluten-like compound, which causes digestive suppression and inflammatory problems. Almost all the people (92%) following a gluten-free diet do not cure of their disease. They suffer due to many forms of the autoimmune disease. Quinoa is gluten-free. People with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can safely have their bowl of Chenopodium.
The presence of the powerful antioxidants quercetin and kaempferol helps fight the action of free radicals. This antioxidant action helps prevent the incidence of diseases such as cancers and HIV. The amount of antioxidant present is larger than that found in lingonberry or cranberry. These chemicals exhibited anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties in mice. They are also anti-viral.
People with diabetes should include quinoa in their diet for more reasons than one. It has a high amount of dietary fibre that augments the digestive system. This helps one feel full and eat less. Second, it has proteins that give the energy without the starch; it makes it ideal for a diabetic diet. In addition to the much-needed vitamins and minerals, it also has phytochemicals that help the body build up resistance to diseases. The unsaturated fats keep the blood lipid levels healthy.
Cholesterol is only found in animal fat. Quinoa being the seed of a plant does not have cholesterol. You can eat it by the bagful and not get any cholesterol at all. The soluble fibre in quinoa combines with the bile to become a jelly. This remains excreted, and so the blood lipid level does not rise. When the liver needs cholesterol, it gets it from the blood. Eating quinoa keeps your diet cholesterol free.
The high nutrient content in quinoa that includes vitamins and minerals assures the longevity of many people. Some of them live for over 100 years, and they all say that Chenopodium is the main thing in their diet that kept them healthy and going. Along with the vitamins, quinoa has potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, and many other vital nutrients (see the table above) that our body needs for metabolic activity daily.
The blood must contain only the optimal amount of cholesterol. The LDL cholesterol should be low while the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) must be high. Check with your doctor regularly to see if they are within their limits.
Quinoa does not dry out when left to cool after cooking, unlike some other grains. The saponins in the Chenopodium can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth if not washed properly. For some, these saponins can cause irritation of the intestine and damage it. Wash thoroughly and enjoy this nutritious food item.