Last updated: Saturday May 05th 2018
Known to the Incas as “The Mother of All Grains,” Quinoa has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. Cultivation first took place 5,000 years ago, and provided several key nutritional elements to the native people.
Today, we know quinoa to be a whole grain due to the unaltered state of the seed. Because of this, quinoa can provide many vitamins and minerals missing from other grains such as white rice or pasta. Quinoa is also naturally gluten free, making it a good option for people with celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity. In this article we will identify 5 key nutritional benefits to eating quinoa.
1. Complete Protein
Many plant sources of protein are incomplete, meaning that certain amino acids essential for our body function are missing. These foods can be paired, like peanut butter and whole grain toast, to make a complete protein, but quinoa is special in that all essential amino acids are present. This makes quinoa an excellent choice for vegans or vegetarians!
2. Fibre Rich
Did you know that most people in the UK don’t eat enough fibre? The intake recommendation for an adult is 30g per day, but on average individuals are shorting themselves 10-15 grams! Luckily, quinoa is a good source, containing more fiber than both brown rice, and corn.
Adequate fibre consumption has been related to a reduction in a number of health risks including high blood sugar (diabetes), blood pressure (heart disease), and cholesterol. Fibre also plays a major role in digestion, and can help keep you fuller longer to aid in weight loss.
3. Vitamins and Minerals
- Manganese: In just one cup of prepared quinoa, you will receive 30% of your daily recommended intake! This element is imperative for proper function of enzymes, metabolism, and the antioxidant system.
- B-2: Also essential for enzyme function, quinoa is a good source providing 10% of your daily intake. Deficiencies in this vitamin can lead to uncomfortable skin rashes, anemia, and itchy eyes.
- Magnesium: Not to be confused with Manganese, Magnesium is present in every single cell in our bodies and is required for the function of more than 300 enzymes! Osteoporosis, CVD, Diabetes, and migraines are just a few of the side effected of having insufficient levels.
- Iron: Quinoa contains good amounts of iron, which is essential for carrying oxygen through our blood. Low levels can cause weakness, and headaches.
Another area where quinoa excels above other gluten free grains is in antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for the protection against free radicals. Free radicals bring on oxidative stress, and over time cause deterioration and damage to cells. Essentially, they are responsible for aging.
5. Lower Blood Sugar
Unlike refined carbohydrates, which have been linked with diabetes and heart disease, whole grains such as quinoa have been linked with a reduction of these risks.
Quinoa has a low glycemic index, which means it won’t cause a rapid increase in blood sugar after you eat it. This trait makes it a good option for those who have, or are at risk of developing diabetes.