Nutritional Guide to Quinoa

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As one of the most popular superfoods on the market, quinoa has made its way from obscure health food grocery stores, to restaurants, to consumers’ kitchen pantries. In 2013, "The International Year of the Quinoa” was declared by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Cultivated for over 3000 years, it was called the “Mother of All Grains” by the Incan Empire which considered it to be a sacred plant.

A gluten-free whole grain which is actually a seed of the plant, it is indigenous to South America. It grows in a variety of colors, including red, black, and white, among many others. The most recognizable is the white variety which can be found in most bulk bin aisles at your local grocer.

Quinoa is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine amino acids. Amino acids are necessary to combat fat buildup and can also boost your immune system. It also contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats for good health.

Not only does quinoa contain muscle-building proteins and healthy fats, it is also host to numerous, essential minerals to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Quinoa is rich in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. High levels of vitamin E also promotes healthy hair growth and nourishes skin cells, leaving you with clearer and healthier looking skin. Also abundant in quinoa, vitamin B9, or folate, plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair.

Copper, which is required for red blood cell production, is rich in quinoa. Quinoa is an excellent source of potassium which supports a healthy blood pressure. Along with magnesium, potassium reduces stress and anxiety, muscle cramps, and promotes a healthy metabolism.

Phosphorus, which helps bone formation, aids digestion, and promotes brain function, can be found in quinoa. It is an excellent source of manganese which helps the body form connective tissue and bones. Manganese also aids brain and nerve function, in addition to playing a role in metabolism and blood sugar regulation. Further aiding blood-sugar regulation, one cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 grams of fiber. Fiber aids digestion and supports healthy cholesterol levels.

For those with Celiac disease, quinoa is a saving grace (further confirming the “Mother of All Grains” assertion the Incans made) because it is gluten-free. Those with a host of allergies can rest easy when quinoa is on their plates: quinoa flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour. Due to its easily-digestible nature, quinoa allergies are very uncommon making it a perfect grain for those of us who have a host of food intolerances or digestion disorders.

Quinoa is not only a delicious, nutty-tasting grain that can easily be added to soups, salads, and substituted for rice, but it is one of the healthiest foods a person can consume. Easily made within 20 minutes, quinoa is jam packed with vitamins and minerals not typically found in other grains. Before cooking, make sure you wash quinoa to rid it of the soapy-tasting phytic acid. Phytic acid prevents the proper absorption of the minerals available in quinoa, and that is the last thing you want to do when eating this nutrient-rich food. Make sure you store your quinoa in an airtight container, or you can store it in the refrigerator to make it last for six months.

The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.