Quinoa is the world’s most popular “superfood.”
It is loaded with protein, fiber and minerals, but doesn’t contain any gluten.
Here are some proven health benefits of quinoa.
Quinoa is Incredibly Nutritious
Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds. It is pronounced KEEN-wah.
It technically isn’t a cereal grain, but a pseudo-cereal.
In other words, it is basically a “seed” which is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain.
Here is the nutrient breakdown for 1 cup of cooked quinoa, or 185 grams.
- 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.
Quinoa Contains Potent Bioactive Substances Called Quercetin and Kaempferol
The health effects of real foods go way beyond the vitamins and minerals we’re all familiar with.
There are thousands of trace nutrients in there… and some of them are extremely healthy.
This includes interesting molecules called flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial effects on health.
Two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied are Quercetin and Kaempferol… and they happen to be found in large amounts in Quinoa
It is Very High in Fiber… Much Higher Than Most Grains
Another important benefit of quinoa is that it is high in fiber.
One study that looked at 4 varieties of quinoa found a range of between 10 and 16 grams of fiber, per every 100 grams of uncooked quinoa
Quinoa is Gluten Free and Perfect For People With Gluten Intolerance
According to a 2013 survey, about a third of people in the U.S. are currently trying to minimize or avoid gluten.
A gluten-free diet can be healthy, as long as it is based on foods that are naturally gluten free.
The problems arise when people eat “gluten free” foods made with refined starches instead.
These foods are no better than their gluten-containing counterparts, because gluten free junk food is still junk food.
Quinoa is Very High in Protein, With All The Essential Amino Acids That we Need
Protein is made out of amino acids. Some of them are termed “essential” because we cannot produce them and need to get them from the diet.
If a food contains all the essential amino acids, it is seen as a “complete” protein.
The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as Lysine.
Quinoa Has a Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels.
It is known that eating foods that are high on the glycemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity
It is High in Minerals That Most People Don’t Get Enough of, Especially Magnesium
There are many nutrients in the modern diet that people tend to be lacking in.
This is particularly true of some minerals… especially Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc and (for women) Iron.
Interestingly, quinoa is very high in all 4 minerals. It is particularly high in magnesium, with one cup having about 30% of the RDA.
Quinoa May Have Some Major Benefits For Metabolic Health
Given the high amount of beneficial nutrients, it makes sense that quinoa could lead to improvements in metabolic health.
Although this needs to be studied more thoroughly, I did find two studies (one in humans, the other in rats) that examined the effects of quinoa on metabolic health.
The human study found that using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free breads and pastas significantly reduced blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels.
Quinoa is Loaded With Antioxidants
Quinoa also happens to be very high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight ageing and many diseases.
Quinoa Has Several Important Characteristics That Make it a Weight Loss Friendly Food
In order to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn.
It is known that certain properties of foods can facilitate this process… either by boosting metabolism (increasing calories out) or reducing appetite (lowering calories in).
Interestingly, quinoa has several such properties.
It is high in protein… which can both increase metabolism and reduce appetite significantly.
Quinoa is Easy to Incorporate Into Your Diet
The last one is not a health benefit, but still incredibly important.
It is the fact that quinoa is very easy to incorporate into your diet.
It is also tasty and goes well with many foods.
Depending on the type of quinoa, it can be important to rinse it with water in order to get rid of saponins, which are found on the outer layer and can have a bitter flavor.
However, some brands have already been rinsed, so this may not be necessary.