What is Quinoa?
There has been increasing popularity among health conscious people worldwide asking what is quinoa and how to cook it since it’s nutritional and health benefits are higher than most grains.
It is a healthy whole grain and has a nutty taste. It can also be cooked quite quickly, just like barley or rice, taking less cooking time compared to most whole grains. It tastes good on its own, especially if mixed with olive oil, sea salt or lemon juice.
Quinoa, referred to as a superfood, identified with high nutritive value, it’s often confused as a grain, but it is a pseudo-cereal, a term that is used to describe food grounded into flour, which is non-grasses even though they are used much like true cereal.
Origin and History
It originated in the South America region around Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, and Ecuador and it’s been domesticated by the Andean Civilization for human consumption around 3 to 4 thousand years ago, although archaeological research has shown a non-domesticated crop Association from 5 to 7 thousand years ago.
The Incas referred to quinoa as the mother of all grains (chisaya mama). During the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, during the era of the Spanish colonization in South America, the colonists called it food for Indians and forbade its cultivation forcing the Incas to grow wheat instead of their sacred crop.
Despite being consumed for thousands of years in the last few decades, it’s popularity has grown immensely due to its extreme health benefits it brings.
Recently being introduced in the United States in 1982 where it has been cultivated primarily in high elevation cities such as Colorado. Although it has become increasingly demanding in countries such as Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and China as its unable to grown in these areas.
Its cultivation has spread in more than 50 countries in small and specific places such as Holland, Italy, France, England, India, and Kenya, although it’s cultivation is minuscule compared to its original root source.
Popularity continues to increase, more variations of quinoa comes to light from the adventurous consumers creating unique gourmet products for each type of food.
It is a viable substitute for your common carbohydrate food; it is a great option for those seeking to be and eat healthier. Thousands of products nowadays are made with quinoa such as beverages like beer, cereals, bread, granola bars, pasta, soups and even crackers.
Quinoa Nutrition Facts
Whether you include it in your daily meals or snacks because of your diet or to simply spice things up in your kitchen this super-seed is nutritious and easy to prepare, it is one of the healthiest pseudo-cereals out there.
Quinoa isn’t just for vegans and vegetarians; it’s a great option for those looking to include more protein and fiber in their diet, and in turn, lowering their cholesterol.
The following nutritional facts are for all three main types of quinoa, red white and black.
Quinoa is high in protein, containing all nine essential amino acids which are: isoleucine, leucine, histidine, lysine, methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, threonine and valine.
It also provides a high variety of antioxidants including anti-inflammatory properties.
Protein is made up of amino acids, and in turn, the protein is the building blocks of our body.
Since some amino acids are practically essential as our bodies are unable to produce them, we’re required to acquire them from food sources.
Quinoa is very high in protein. Thus it is quite popular among vegetarians.
About 185 grams of quinoa contains about 8.1 grams of protein which is around 16% of daily recommended intake.
It is advisable for men to have around 56 grams of quinoa and women should have about 46 grams per day.
Is Quinoa a complete Protein? Most definitely, luckily for us, quinoa has overcome this flaw that most pseudocereals genetically contain, it provides a much greater amount of lysine and isoleucine which allows the protein in quinoa to be a complete protein.
For those of you who do not know, a complete protein or a whole protein is a source of protein that contains a sufficient amount of all nine essential amino acids that are necessary for our dietary needs, and these amino acids are:
Yet again, yes quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein.
Quinoa is very low in fat. 185 grams contains about 3.6 grams of a total amount of fat which is around as low as 5%.
Just like other grains, the fat content composed of oleic acid, palmitic acid, and linoleic acid.
In one cup of quinoa, it contains 39 grams of total carbohydrates, making it 13% of your daily value for a regular healthy diet. It, being a whole-grain, it is digested slower than most refined grains, meaning you feel full and satisfied longer.
It is relatively high in carbohydrates, so depending on your particular meal or diet plans it might not be suitable for consumption on multiple times during the day.
Before you push quinoa out of your daily meals or diet just because it contains carbohydrates than you must consider the full benefits as it contains all needed minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and even calcium not including the high amount of protein it contains, and it helps to prevent cardiovascular disease and even cell damage.
In one cup of uncooked quinoa, it contains 12 grams of fiber, making it 48 percent of your daily needed value of fiber.
In one cup of it cooked contains 5 grams of fiber making it 20 percent of your daily value of fiber.
The daily value refers to the daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet although all humans daily values will be different depending on their everyday needs.
It has two to three times the amount of fiber when compared to most other grains, which is also one of the reasons as to why many switch from other grains.
In the United States, most people consume about 16 grams of fiber per day, which is only half of the recommended amount.
Its suggested that a woman should eat 25 grams of fiber per day while a man should be getting 38 grams.
By eating one cup of uncooked quinoa, you would get half of your needed daily value.
While most people who switch to quinoa are looking to live a healthier life, most end up loving this super-seed and make the switch permanent.
We do suggest that you see a dietitian if you have specific daily requirements on your fiber intake before you make any changes to your diet or meal plan.
Once ingested, the body begins to break it down but since fiber does not digest; it passes through the body practically intact.
Eating a diet that is usually high in dietary fiber can help one to regulate digestion, blood glucose, lower cholesterol and even help with weight loss.
The reason for it is that it helps you to make you feel full and satisfied much quicker, not including how much protein quinoa contains which helps with losing weight.
A high-fiber diet has countless health benefits, and those are:
- Regulates bowel movements: Dietary fiber helps to increase the size and weight of your stool and also assists in softening it. Normally, a sizable stool is easier to pass through reliving and decreasing any chance of constipation. If your stools are watery, fiber can help to bulk it up as it absorbs water. Also, a diet that is high in fiber has a much lower rate of developing hemorrhoids.
- Lowers cholesterol: Soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol by aiding with reducing the density of lipoprotein levels. Some studies have also show that fiber contributes in reducing blood pressure.
- Stabilizes blood glucose levels: Fiber can help to slow the absorption of sugar and in doing so contribute to improving blood glucose levels.
- Weight Loss: Foods that are high in fiber requires more chewing which allows your body to pick up when you are not hungry which makes you feel fuller and more satisfied. Fiber does make you feel full for a significant amount of time.
- Cancer: Some researches supports the evidence that eating a high fiber diet helps to prevent colorectal cancer; also foods that are high in fiber are linked to lowering the risk of digestive system diseases or cancers.
- Skin: Eating fiber helps to flush toxins out of the body which contributes to improve one’s health and even appearance of the skin.
Other nutritional facts and benefits: It has about 31.5mg of calcium.
It also provides 118mg of magnesium which makes 30% of daily required intake, 318mg of potassium
which is 9% and 281mg phosphorus which is around 28%, 2.8mg of iron which is 15% as recommended.
It also provides 58% of the required manganese.
Health Benefits Of Quinoa
Quinoa has a full dose of protein and contains all nine amino acids that we need, and even includes lysine which is also used to create medicine and even promotes a high percentage of tissue growth.
In addition to having the nine essential amino acids, quinoa has a full source of zinc, copper, vitamins B and E, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium and dietary fiber. – let’s dig deeper.
Considering the fact that Quinoa is rich in magnesium, which is a mineral that contributes as a substance for more than three hundred enzymes, also includes those that helps to regulate the production of insulin and glucose in the body, so regular ingestion of quinoa or even other grains can help to reduce risks for type 2 diabetes.
You probably know that it’s caused by the constriction of blood vessels.
Quinoa having a high source of magnesium will help with subsiding the migraines as it contributes to relaxing the body’s blood vessels, and it is also rich in riboflavin which in turn reduces the frequency of each and every migraine by regulating the energy within the muscle cells and brain.
Quinoa also helps to increase one’s cardiovascular health, since the deficiencies from magnesium is connected to hypertension, heart arrhythmia and heart disease.
Glycemic Index Of Quinoa
For those of you that do not know, the glycemic index of glycemic index (GI) is a number that is related to a particular type of food that specifies the effects of the food that it has on a person blood sugar level or blood glucose.
The GI is the measurement of the blood sugar level in a human after food consumption, and it correlates to how fast a person blood sugar rises.
All in all, the GI is used to understand and track how the human body breaks down carbohydrates, but keep in mind that the GI only analyzes the total carbohydrate that enters the blood stream.
Foods that are low in the glycemic index do not cause spikes in the blood sugar level which makes quinoa a perfect option for people with diabetes and any central issues that related to the increase of glucose on one’s body.
As the human body digests these carbohydrates your blood glucose or in other words your blood sugar level rises, and as mentioned above the glycemic index estimates the rate of how fast your blood sugar will rise which is entirely dependent on the food that you ate.
The scale goes as followed, and it ranges from 0 to 100 while 100 represents that it is pure glucose, although some foods are much higher than 100 and that means it raises your blood sugar much faster than pure glucose.