Welcome to March. It's National Quinoa Month and time to celebrate the ancient grain that has many health benefits.
Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is a grain crop grown for its edible seeds. It achieved super-food status a few years ago and since has become trendy with health conscious eaters as well as foodies. But there's good reason for that. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber. It’s one of the few plant foods considered to be a complete protein.
Here some of the health benefits of quinoa:
It’s nutritious - There are three main types of quinoa - white, red and black.
Here is the nutrient breakdown for 1 cup of cooked quinoa:
- Protein: 8 grams.
- Fiber: 5 grams.
- Manganese: 58% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
- Folate: 19% of the RDA.
- Copper: 18% of the RDA.
- Iron: 15% of the RDA.
- Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 9% of the RDA.
- Over 10% of the RDA for Vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
- Small amounts of Calcium, B3 (Niacin) and Vitamin E.
One cup of quinoa has 222 calories, with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. It also contains a small amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.Quinoa is non-GMO, gluten-free and usually grown organically.
Quinoa contains bioactives -Two flavonoids, Quercetin and Kaempferol, are found in large amounts in quinoa.In fact, the quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries. These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects.
It is high in fiber - Quinoa is much higher in fiber than most grains, with about 17 to 27 grams of fiber per cup of uncooked quinoa. Fiber can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss.
Quinoa is gluten-free - Quinoa is naturally free of gluten and using it instead of typical gluten-free ingredients (such as potato starches) can increase the antioxidant and nutrient value of a gluten-free diet.
Quinoa is high in protein - With 8 grams of quality protein per cup of cooked quinoa, it is an excellent plant-based protein source for vegetarians and vegans and contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need.
It has a low glycemic index - The glycemic index of quinoa is around 53, which is considered low. Food low on the glycemic index are known to help in reducing heart disease, diabetes and give a feeling of being fuller. However,quinoa is still relatively high in carbohydrates.
Quinoa is high in minerals - It is high in Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc and Iron. These are all minerals that the body cannot make and need to be consumed in foods or supplements in order for our bodies to function properly.
Quinoa is loaded with antioxidants - Quinoa is high in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight ageing, boost the immune system and fight off many diseases.
It can be a weight friend food - Quinoa is high in fiber, protein and has a low glycemic index. These properties have all been linked to weight loss and improved health.