Do you know about quinoa? I think you will agree with me that it is really difficult to find a 100% natural food that brings you benefits in every way and that also helps you lose those extra pounds. And what to say if you are a diabetic person or do not tolerate wheat, right? Good news! There is an integral seed that gives you ALL the nutrients your body needs and is suitable for all people, without exception. In today’s post, we discover what this super healthy food is and how it can become the perfect ally to help you maintain iron health.
1. It is Hugely Nutritious:
Quinoa is a grain that is grown to use its edible seeds. Technically it is not a cereal, but a “pseudo-cereal”.
In other words:
It is a seed that is prepared and consumed in the same way as a cereal. The Incas called quinoa “the mother of all cereals” and considered it sacred. It has been consumed for thousands of years in South America, although it began to be considered a “superfood ” in recent years. Currently, quinoa and products made with it can be obtained worldwide, especially in health food stores and restaurants that emphasize natural food. A serving of 185 grams of quinoa (one cup, approximately) contains the following nutrients:
- 8 grams of protein
- 5 grams of fiber
- 58% of the recommended daily allowance (CDR) of manganese.
- 28% of the phosphorus CDR.
- 19% of the folate CDR.
- 18% of the copper CDR.
- 15% of the iron CDR.
- 13% of the zinc CDR.
- 9% of the potassium CDR.
- More than 10% of the RDA of vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
- Small amounts of calcium, vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.
This includes 222 calories with 39 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fat. It also contains a minimum amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
It should be noted that:
Quinoa is not genetically modified, has no gluten and is usually grown organically. And although technically it is not a cereal, it counts as integral food. It should be noted that NASA scientists have tried to make it a suitable crop to grow in outer space, an idea based on its high nutrient content, simplicity of use and ease of growth. The year 2013, in fact, was called “International Year of Quinoa” by the United Nations as a recognition of its great nutritional value and potential to contribute to world food security.
In short: quinoa is an edible seed that has become fashionable among people who love healthy food, as it is full of valuable nutrients.
2. It Contains Two Powerful Bioactive Substances: Quercetin and Kaempferol:
The healthy effects of “real” foods go beyond the vitamins and minerals with which we are all familiar. There are thousands of extra nutrients that are also extremely healthy.
“Quinoa includes, for example, flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have a wide range of beneficial health effects”.
There are two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied, quercetin and kaempferol, and both can be found in quinoa in large quantities. In fact, the content of quercetin in quinoa is higher than in foods typically high in it, such as cranberries.
What is the Best of this?
These important molecules have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anticancer and antidepressant effects, at least in animal studies and including quinoa in the diet significantly increases the total intake of these and other nutrients.
In summary: quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol, powerful plant antioxidants with numerous health benefits.
3. It is Very Rich in Fiber, More Than Most Cereals:
A study focusing on four varieties of quinoa found a range of 10 to 16 grams of fiber per 100 grams of raw quinoa. This is equivalent to between 17 and 27 grams per cup, which is very high: more than double the majority of cereals.
Once boiled, quinoa contains less fiber , since it absorbs water. Unfortunately, most of the fiber it contains is insoluble, which does not have the same benefits as soluble. Even so, the soluble fiber content is 2.5 grams per cup (or 1.5 grams per 100 grams), which is pretty decent. There are numerous studies that show that soluble fiber can help reduce blood sugar levels , lower cholesterol , raise feelings of satiety and help with weight loss.
In summary: quinoa is higher in fiber than most cereals, with a content of between 17 and 27 grams of fiber per cup of raw quinoa.
4. It is Perfect for People Who Have Gluten Intolerance:
A gluten-free diet can be healthy, as long as it is based on foods that naturally do not contain gluten. Problems arise when people consume “gluten-free” products made with refined starches. These foods are no better than their gluten-free counterparts, because gluten-free junk food is still junk food. Several researchers have proposed quinoa as a viable ingredient for those who seek to follow a gluten-free diet but do not want to abandon bread or pasta.
Some studies show that:
The use of quinoa instead of typical gluten-free ingredients, such as refined tapioca, potatoes, corn or rice flour, can significantly increase the antioxidant and nutrient value of the diet. In summary: quinoa is naturally gluten-free and using it as a replacement for ingredients typically low in gluten can raise the level of nutrients in a gluten-free diet.
5. Contains a High Level of Protein:
Proteins are made of amino acids, some of which are called “essential” because the body cannot produce them and needs to incorporate them for what it consumes. Thus, if a food contains all the essential amino acids, it is considered as a “complete” protein. The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as lysine. But quinoa is an exception, since it is particularly high in all essential amino acids.
This means that:
Quinoa is an excellent source of protein : it contains more quantity and better protein quality than most cereals. With 8 grams of quality protein per cup of cooked quinoa (or 4.5 grams per 100 grams), quinoa is a great source of vegetable protein for vegetarians and vegans.
In short: quinoa is high in protein when compared to most plant foods, and contains all the essential amino acids that the human body needs.
6. Has a Low Glycemic Index:
The glycemic index measures how fast food raises blood sugar levels. It is known that eating foods high in glycemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity. Thus, they are also related to many of the chronic diseases so common today, such as diabetes and heart problems. The glycemic index of quinoa is 53, which is considered low
Quinoa is also high in carbohydrates, so it is not a good choice in low carbohydrate diets , at least in large quantities.
In summary: the glycemic index of quinoa is low but its high carbohydrate content must be taken into account.
7. It is High in Minerals That People Do Not Incorporate Sufficiently, Especially Magnesium:
Current nutrition tends to be poor in some minerals that the body needs, especially magnesium, potassium, zinc and (especially for women) iron.
The amazing thing is that:
Quinoa is rich in these same four minerals, particularly magnesium. One cup covers approximately 30% of the daily requirement. The problem is that quinoa also contains a substance called phytic acid, which can reduce the absorption of these minerals. However, soaking quinoa before cooking can reduce the content of this acid and make its minerals more bioavailable. Quinoa is also high in oxalates, which reduce calcium absorption and can cause problems in individuals with kidney stones
In short: quinoa is high in minerals, but the phytic acid it contains may partially prevent its absorption. But soaking before cooking degrades most of this acid.
8. It Could Greatly Benefit Metabolic Health:
Given its high amount of nutrients, it makes sense that quinoa can lead to improvements in metabolic health. And although this needs to be studied in greater depth, there are two studies (one in humans, another in rats) that examined the effects of quinoa on metabolic health.
And these were the results:
The study in humans found that by consuming quinoa instead of the typical gluten-free breads and pastries, the level of blood sugar, insulin and triglycerides was reduced. On the other hand, the study in rats found that adding quinoa to a diet high in fructose almost completely inhibited the negative effects of the latter
In summary: two studies, one in humans and others in rats, showed that quinoa can improve metabolic health. This includes blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
9. It is Full of Antioxidants:
The antioxidants are important because they neutralize free radicals and is believed to help fight aging and many diseases. In this sense, a study focused on the antioxidants present in 10 foods: five cereals, three pseudo-cereals and two legumes. And quinoa had the highest antioxidant content of all and letting the seeds sprout seems to raise the level of antioxidants even more
In short: quinoa seems to be high in antioxidants, which rises even more after the seeds sprout.
10. It has Several Features That Make it Helpful for Weight Loss:
To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. And it is known that certain properties in foods can facilitate the process, either by accelerating the metabolism (eliminating calories) or reducing appetite. And quinoa has several of these properties. It is high in protein, which can both increase the metabolism and significantly reduce appetite. The high fiber content, meanwhile, helps to raise the feeling of satiety causing less calories to be consumed. In addition, the fact that quinoa has a low glycemic level is also important, since choosing these foods has been linked to reduced calorie intake. Although there are no studies showing the effects of quinoa on weight loss, it seems intuitive to say that it could be an essential part of a weight loss diet.
In short: quinoa is high in fiber and protein, and has a low glycemic level. These properties have been linked with weight loss and better health.
11. It is Easy to Incorporate into The Diet:
Depending on the type of quinoa, it may be important to rinse it with water before cooking to remove the saponins, which are found in the top layer of the seed and have a bitter taste. However, some brands are already previously rinsed. Quinoa can be bought in health food stores and even in some supermarkets. To boil it, you have to place two cups of water in a pot and put it to heat. Add a cup of quinoa and a little salt, and let it cook for 15 or 20 minutes. Then, it can be used as a base in an infinite number of recipes.