Quinoa is a sort of edible seed that comes in a variety of hues, including black, red, yellow, and white. The plant is native to the Andean region of South America, notably Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Peru, and has been cultivated for over 5000 years. The natural saponins, a bitter-tasting chemical component coating the exterior of the seeds that functions as a natural insecticide, is removed after they are collected.
Quinoa, often described as a “superfood” or a “super grain,” has become popular among the health conscious, with good reason. It is also gluten-free and suitable for those following a gluten-free diet.
Quinoa is often used as a rice substitute, but it is actually a seed. It is commonly mistaken for a grain and is referred to as such. Quinoa is soft and fluffy when cooked, with a somewhat nutty flavour. It can be processed into flour, flakes, and a variety of dishes like pasta and bread.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the boom in quinoa demand has pushed production outside South America to more than 70 countries. Quinoa crops are being grown on a huge scale in China, North America, France, and India.
Quinoa seeds can be black, red, white, purple, pink, yellow, gray, orange, green or yellow.
Quinoa has a high protein, fiber, iron, copper, thiamin, and vitamin B6 content. It’s also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and folate. “A ‘good source’ implies that one serving delivers at least 10% of the daily value of that nutrient, while an ‘excellent source’ means that one serving provides at least 20% of the daily value of that nutrient.”
Quinoa’s “unique composition and outstanding balance” of protein, oil, and fat, as well as its minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, make it a very nutritious food, according to a 2009 paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Quinoa, unlike many other plant foods, contains phytohormones. Because they occasionally act like estrogens in the body, phytoestrogens are being explored as a treatment for menopause symptoms.
Quinoa’s health advantages
1. An all-around protein
Quinoa is well known for being one of the few plant foods that provide complete proteins, with all essential amino acids in a healthy balance. Complete proteins include all of the essential amino acids in about equal amounts, which the body cannot manufacture on its own.
2. Anti-inflammatory benefits
Quinoa may help decrease the presence of inflammation. It helps promote healthy gut microbes (the friendly bacteria in the gut), which are important for preventing obesity, inflammation and disease.
3. Free of gluten
People with Celiac disease, a severe gluten intolerance, are advised to follow gluten-free diets. Quinoa is an excellent choice for such people or those who have gluten intolerance, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), etc.
4. Heart health
Lowering LDL cholesterol is good for your heart, but quinoa can benefit your heart in other ways as well. A study published in the Journal of Food Lipids noted that quinoa seeds possess many of the dietary flavonoids “shown to inversely correlate with mortality from heart disease.” Triglyceride levels reduced by an average 12.7 per cent among the participants who ate 50g, according to the findings. If you eat 50 grams of quinoa, which is four tablespoons daily, your risk of cardiovascular disease can decrease significantly.
One cup of cooked quinoa offers 21% of the daily fiber recommendation, which is fantastic for your gut. Quinoa is also easier to digest than many other grains. Furthermore, one feels fuller after eating quinoa, in comparison to eating wheat or rice, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
6. Hypertension and diabetes
Quinoa has also been examined for its role in diabetes and hypertension control. A study investigated 10 traditional Peruvian grains and legumes for their potential in controlling the early stages of Type 2 diabetes. The study found that as Quinoa is one of the most protein rich foods with almost twice as much fiber as many other grains; is loaded with potassium and magnesium, it can be extremely beneficial in diabetes and hypertension control. Not only does quinoa help normalize blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels, it’s a great food for weight loss as well!
In case you need a professional help, you can contact Kanupriya Khanna, a Senior Consultant Nutritionist and Dietitian, having more than 18 years of experience. She is one of the best dietitians in Delhi if you are looking for nutritional advice