What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a flowering plant that originated in the Andean region of northwestern South America. Though it is considered as grain, It is included in the amaranth family, closely related to beetroots and spinach, and meant to be grown for its edible seeds. It only has one growing season, and it dies, which is why it is considered as one of the annual plants. Like chia seeds, it is a superfood too, as it contains a lot of nutrients that benefit our bodies. Let us cite some of them later.
Types of Quinoa
Most of us only know one or three types of quinoa, but according to the Whole Grains Council, there are more or less 120 known varieties of it. Only three of them are commercialized, and they are the white, black, and red quinoa. The white quinoa seeds are popular than the others as it is the one which is commonly used for cooking. It cooks quickly and does not overpower the taste of the other recipes when cooked. It also is fluffier and lightest in texture compare to the other types. On the other hand, the red quinoa has a nutty flavor and is heavier in texture, so it can hold up the shape of the food when cooked. Thus it is the reason why it is mostly used in food like salads. The red quinoa also has more nutrients compared to the white. Additionally, we also have the black quinoa, which is the most difficult to find. It is similar to red quinoa in terms of texture, and it tastes earthier and sweeter. Therefore it is used in making flour or quinoa flakes.
Benefits of Quinoa
You might want to know the benefits we can get from the food we eat. There are a lot of benefits that our bodies can get from consuming this super grain. Here are some:
Quinoa as Part of a Healthy Diet
Quinoa is one of the best grain you might want to include in your diet due to the high nutrition it contains. It is naturally gluten-free and is similar to brown rice in terms of calorie counts, amounts of dietary fiber, and micronutrients in a cup serving. Some people cook quinoa like rice, and they prefer these seeds to rice as it contains higher amounts of protein and lower carbohydrates per serving. Also, 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa contains:
- 222 calories
- 14 g of protein
- 2 g of fiber
- 55 g of fat, of which 0.42 g is saturated
- 4 g of carbohydrate
- Magnesium – 30% recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Manganese – 30% RDA
- Folate – 19% RDA
- Phosphorous – 28% RDA
- Copper – 18% RDA
- Iron – 15% RDA
- Zinc – 13% RDA
- Potassium – 9% RDA
Quinoa is the only grain that contains the nine essential amino acids, which is needed for vital processes such as the building of proteins, the synthesis of hormones, and neurotransmitters.
Quinoa to Boost Metabolism
Quinoa is helpful in promoting good metabolism. The high protein it has helps increase metabolism and reduce appetite. As mentioned earlier, this grain contains manganese and fiber, which promotes regular digestion. It also helps relieve constipation, bloating, flatulence, and gas. The fiber in quinoa also helps control blood sugar and the risk of hemorrhoids.
Say No More to Anemia
We all know that low blood levels can result in anemia. Thanks to this superfood, as we do not have to take iron supplement pills to prevent this from happening. Quinoa has Riboflavin (vitamin B2), which is essential in making hemoglobin. As stated before, the grain has iron, which helps our red blood cells healthy, plus it is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron also carries oxygen from one cell to another and increases our brain function and helps maintain energy, making us more productive.
Quinoa for healthy skin
Who says that we need skincare products to maintain healthy skin? Quinoa contains natural anti-aging properties, protein, and vitamins that are good for our skin, such as:
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2) – helps improves skin elasticity, treat age spots, and other skin pigmentation conditions.
- Vitamin B12 – helps keep healthy skin complexion.
- Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) – soothes the red and inflamed areas, thus preventing acne breakouts.
- Vitamin A – which helps delay the aging process of our skin and fine the lines, especially on our faces.
- Zinc – it acts as an antioxidant against skin cancer, protects the skin from ultraviolet rays, and keeps the skin in good health.
Manganese is also an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy mitochondria during energy production and protects cells from free radical damage. This also means that it can fight harmful substances that can cause cancer.
Quinoa for Wounds? – Yes!
This grain contains lysine, which helps tissue repair and growth. Thanks to manganese again, as it is also one of the factors that helps heal wounds. The zinc quinoa contains also helps speed up the healing process. Some doctors suggested eating whole grains such as quinoa, as the carbohydrates it has can help muscles prevent from breaking down.
Quinoa for Weight Loss
We already know that quinoa contains fiber, which boosts metabolism resulting in weight loss. This fiber also releases acetate, which travels to our brain and signals us to stop eating. Another compound found in quinoa is the 20-hydroxyecdysone, which helps burn more calories and absorbs less fat in our diet. Thanks to the low glycemic index quinoa contains as it also plays a vital role in weight loss because a high glycemic index stimulates hunger and can result in obesity.
Quinoa for Bones
Aside from protein, quinoa also has magnesium, which helps maintain the proper formation of teeth and healthy bones, thus preventing osteoporosis. Another factor is the amount of calcium found in this grain, as it has the same amount of calcium found in dairy products.
Quinoa for Hair
Yes, our hair can also benefit from this superfood. It helps strengthen our hair follicles due to the hydrolyzed protein it has. This protein acts as a natural and gentle coating that protects and nourishes our hair follicles. This is the reason why the protein extracted from quinoa is also used for hair products. Other factors are the amino acids that act as a natural strengthener, humectants that hydrate our scalp and helps protect it from pollution and dust, and the vitamin E which balance the production of natural oils on the scalp.
The calcium, iron, and phosphorus in quinoa also help treat dandruff by sealing moisture on our scalp.
Quinoa as Anti-Inflammation
Quinoa helps reduce the risk of dangerous inflammation such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and Chrohn’s disease. It is because quinoa helps increase the number of healthy gut microbes in our bodies, which prevents inflammation, obesity, and diseases. This grain contains two essential compounds that fight inflammation: the quercetin and kaemferol. These two also possess anti-viral and anti-depressant effects. Butyrate released by fiber in quinoa also helps turn off the genes that caused inflammation. Saponins is another compound that has anti-inflammatory properties, while Vitamin B helps reduce homocysteine levels (an inflammatory hormone) in the body.
Quinoa to fight Diseases
Quinoa contains a low glycemic index, which is why it is safe for people with diabetes. Furthermore, the fiber it contains helps lower cholesterol levels, which is good for the heart and reducing high blood pressure, preventing heart attack. Quinoa is also high in oxalates, which reduces the absorption of calcium and can cause problems for certain individuals with recurring kidney stones. Since quinoa is gluten-free, this is safe to eat for people with celiac disease. There are studies shown that quinoa also has an anti-cancer effect due to the quercetin it contains.
Risks and Caution
Now that we already know the benefits our bodies can get from consuming quinoa, Let us now take a look at some of the pointers that we need to keep in mind before eating it. Yes, it has a lot of benefits, but we must also be mindful of the cons of consuming it more than the required amount:
- It is recommended to eat quinoa ½ – 1 cup per meal cooked for adults and 2-6 ounces of grains per day for children.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid constipation by eating quinoa.
- Follow the suggested amount of quinoa intake. Too much eating quinoa can cause you kidney problems.
- Fiber-rich foods can lead to cramping and prevent our bodies from absorbing some of the key nutrients. That’s why it is important to follow the recommended serving to avoid this from happening.
- Check with your doctor if you have quinoa allergy.
- Wash quinoa before consuming. The saponins found in the coating of the grains is bitter in taste and can be toxic to humans if consumed too much.
Now that you know the benefits of Quinoa, you may be searching where to buy it now. No worries as I’ve got your back! You can get them in HoneyCity. Also, don’t forget to check out their quinoa recipes on how to prepare these seeds to better enjoy your superfood.