What is similar to rice, cooked as a grain but is not a grain? Which is the pseudo-cereal that is the new superfood? Still guessing? Well, it is Quinoa. Yes, Quinoa has created the buzz nowadays for its fantastic nutrition profile. Loaded with essential nutrients, Quinoa benefits your health in numerous ways. No doubt, you can find Quinoa products all around the health stores and the restaurants. If you are still not aware of the incredible food, then you are in the right place. This article discusses everything about Quinoa and its stunning benefits.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa(1) is an important crop that has been consumed since years in South America. It is considered to be the mother of all the grains and was an essential crop of the Inca Empire. It is Quinoa seeds that are cooked like a grain. You can also ground the seeds of quinoa, like rice and wheat to obtain quinoa flour and add it to some great recipes.
Types of Quinoa
There are three different kinds of Quinoa:
- Red Quinoa
- White Quinoa
- Black Quinoa
Quinoa Nutrition Facts
Quinoa seeds are packed with nutrients. It is a rich source of protein and provides you with high amounts of monosaturated fats and antioxidants(2). Quinoa seeds contain a good amount of essential minerals like potassium, zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, copper, and potassium along with Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin. It is gluten-free and has a low glycemic index.
- Quinoa Carbs: A cup of Quinoa provides you with 39 grams of carbs providing you a high amount of energy.
- Quinoa Calories: Calories in a cup of Quinoa amount to 222.
- Quinoa Proteins: A cup of Quinoa provides you with 8 grams of protein.
- Quinoa fiber: Fiber in a cup of Quinoa is around 5 grams.
Quinoa Benefits on Health
Owing to its high nutritive value, Quinoa benefits you in numerous ways. From protecting your heart, preventing bone loss to improving skin health and fighting inflammation, quinoa is the magical food that dramatically boosts your overall health. Elucidated below are some of how the amazing food ensures your excellent health.
1. Quinoa Prevents Heart Diseases
Quinoa with its high amount of soluble fiber is heart friendly. The soluble fiber present in quinoa combines with the bile acid secreted by the liver to form a jelly-like substance that gets excreted in your bowels. The bile acids produced by the liver uses up the cholesterol present in your body, thus eliminating the cholesterol deposits which put a strain on your heart by hampering the smooth blood flow.
Hence quinoa protects your heart by provoking the liver to form bile acids that deplete the cholesterol deposits from your body. Quinoa is also rich in oleic acid, a monosaturated fatty acid which is heart-healthy.
2. Quinoa Helps in Preventing Osteoporosis
Quinoa benefits you by strengthening your bones. It has high amounts of magnesium, an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the formation of bones and prevents the risk of osteoporosis. Quinoa is also a rich source of proteins which are necessary for the creation of bones.
Quinoa seeds contain all the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. Further, the high amounts of calcium, an essential mineral found in bones strengthens your bones and prevents bone loss with age.
3. Quinoa Help Treat Diabetes
Quinoa is known to be an excellent food to treat conditions like diabetes. The high amount of fiber present in quinoa does not cause an instant spike in blood sugar level. It is because the fiber takes time to digest and absorb.
Further, quinoa has a low glycemic index with an abundant amount of amino acids that help in keeping the blood sugar level under check. Researches show that quinoa can help manage type-2 diabetes. Thus, one can use quinoa for diabetes treatment.
4. Quinoa Benefits Weight Loss
Adding quinoa to your weight loss regime can give you significant results. Quinoa provides you with high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber of which the soluble fiber helps in weight loss. The fiber present in quinoa takes long to digest and keeps your stomach full for longer.
Thus, it effectively reduces the hunger pangs and prevents overeating. A cup of quinoa satiates you and provides you with a sufficient amount of nutrition. It is a great meal replacement option for weight loss.
5. Quinoa Helps Fight Cancer
Yes, cancer can be prevented and treated effectively with quinoa. Studies show that consuming quinoa on a regular basis can reduce the risk of premature death due to cancer. The seeds of Quinoa are packed with antioxidants that fight the free radicals and other substances that can cause cancer. Quinoa benefits you by killing the abnormal cell growths that may lead to the fatal disease. A polish study says that the leaves of quinoa have anticancer and chemopreventive effects.
6. Quinoa Benefits your Skin
Wish for beautiful skin? Add quinoa to your diet and get a beautiful and healthy skin. Quinoa is high in antioxidants, Vitamin A and other essential nutrients that fight skin aging. These treat wrinkles, age spots, and skin pigmentation to give you clear and flawless skin. The antioxidants fight free radicals that cause early aging of the skin.
Further, riboflavin present in it improves the skin elasticity making it soft and supple. The tyrosinase inhibitors present in quinoa decrease the pigmentation issues. Also, those suffering from acne can rely upon quinoa to get rid of them. It contains a compound called niacinamide which is known to treat acne. It soothes the inflamed skin preventing acne breakouts.
7. Quinoa Effectively Treats Anemia
Quinoa benefits anemic patients significantly. It is because quinoa serves as a rich source of iron which is essential for the formation of hemoglobin. A cup of cooked quinoa provides you with around 15% of the daily iron requirement. Sufficient amounts of iron consumed daily can increase your hemoglobin level and cure anemia. Quinoa is rich in riboflavin too, the deficiency of which can also cause anemia.
8. Quinoa has Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Depressant Properties
Quinoa also contains plant antioxidants known as flavonoids of which the two found in high amounts are kaempferol and quercetin. These compounds have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties that boost your overall health. These also contain antiviral and anti-cancer properties.
The fiber present in quinoa generates an essential fatty acid known as butyrate that inhibits the genes that cause inflammation while B vitamins present in quinoa reduce the secretion of homocysteine, an inflammatory hormone.
9. Quinoa Aids in Tissue Growth and Repair
Add quinoa salads and cereals to your diet to enjoy excellent health and well-being. Quinoa benefits you by accelerating the process of tissue repair and growth. Lysine, an amino acid present in Quinoa plays a vital role in the replacement of the damaged tissues. The abundant amount of proteins present in quinoa also play a crucial role in the growth of new body tissues and the repair of the old ones.
10. Quinoa Benefits your Digestive Health
The high amount of fiber present in quinoa greatly benefit your digestive system. Fiber is known to add bulk to the food and stimulates the lining of your digestive tract thus enabling better absorption of the nutrients. It also regulates your bowel movement and prevents constipation.
Further, thiamin present in quinoa boosts the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach that aids in digestion. Riboflavin acid and glutamic acid contained in quinoa also improve your digestive health. While Riboflavin helps in the production of the cells that line your digestive tract, Glutamic acid gets converted to Glutamine that strengthens the mucosal lining of the stomach.
How to Consume Quinoa?
Quinoa has a thick outer covering that protects the seed from birds and insects. This covering has a bitter taste and when consumed can cause flatulence, pain in the stomach and laxative diarrhea. Hence, you should eat seeds that have their coatings removed. You can cook the quinoa seeds similar to rice and barley, but before cooking them, you must wash them thoroughly and soak them in water for at least two hours.
After that rinse them again till the foam disappears. You can use this thoroughly washed quinoa in salads, pancakes, soups, porridge, etc. Quinoa flour can be mixed with maize, wheat or oats flour, to enrich their protein content.
After learning about the incredible benefits of Quinoa you certainly would want to include it in your diet. Here are some exciting recipes that you can try to enjoy Quinoa Benefits. These are simple and easy to make and provide you with a high amount of nutrition.
This light, hearty Quinoa soup is great to taste and provides you with an adequate amount of nutrition.
What will you need?
- One cup of uncooked Quinoa
- One-fourth cup of carrot (diced)
- One-fourth cup of red bell pepper (diced)
- One-fourth cup of onion (diced)
- Half a cup of zucchini
- One-fourth cup of celery root (peeled and diced)
- Half a cup of Brussels sprouts (thinly sliced)
- One-fourth cup of russet potato (diced)
- One-fourth cup of sweet potato (peeled and diced)
- One-fourth cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
- One teaspoon of Kosher Salt
- Two tablespoons of Olive oil
- Four Garlic cloves (sliced)
- A three-fourths teaspoon of ground cumin
- One teaspoon of rosemary (minced)
- Six cups of unsalted chicken stock/ unsalted vegetable stock
How to Prepare?
- Preheat your oven to 325 F.
- Take a baking sheet and spread a thin layer of quinoa on it.
- Bake it for 30 minutes until it gets brown with stirring after every ten minutes.
- Put a large stock pot over medium flame.
- To the pot add oil, onion, garlic, carrot, bell pepper, and cook for about ten minutes.
- After that, add cumin, rosemary and cook for a minute with constant stirring.
- Then add celery root, potatoes, and Quinoa.
- Bring it to a boil and after that cook for about twelve minutes.
- Next, add zucchini, sprouts, and cook until the vegetable get tender.
- Stir in parsley and salt, and serve.
Quinoa Taco Salad
Black beans, quinoa, sweet potato, served over greens, makes a healthy and nutritious salad that you must give a try.
What will you need?
- Two and three-fourths cups of water
- One and a half pounds of sweet potato (cubed)
- One and a half cups of tricolor quinoa (rinsed and drained)
- Six tablespoons of olive oil
- Three teaspoons of ground cumin
- Three teaspoons of chili powder
- One teaspoon of lime zest or one-fourth cup of fresh lime juice
- One tablespoon honey
- Half a cup of fresh cilantro (chopped)
- Three radishes (thinly sliced)
- Half a cup of pumpkin seed kernels (roasted)
- One Fresno Chile (thinly sliced)
- One and one-fourth cup of fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 15 ounces of unsalted black beans (rinsed and drained)
- One pound lean flank steak
- Five scallions
- Two and a half teaspoons of kosher salt
- Cooking spray
How to Prepare?
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- Add quinoa and water to a pan and bring it to boil.
- After that cover it and put it on simmer for about twelve minutes. Then, let it stand for three minutes.
- Spread Quinoa on a baking sheet, let it cool for twenty minutes and then transfer it to a bowl
- Toss sweet potatoes, two tablespoons of chili powder and oil, one teaspoon of cumin on a baking sheet.
- Bake them for twenty minutes with stirring after ten minutes.
- Let them cool for twenty minutes and then add them to quinoa.
- Heat a grill pan.
- Rub the steak with one teaspoon of salt and chili powder, and two teaspoons of cumin
- Spray, the scallions and steak with cooking spray.
- Grill each side of the steak for three to four minutes and then the scallion for about six minutes.
- After that cut the steak and scallions into chunks and add them to the quinoa bowl
- Add beans, pumpkin seeds, radishes, cilantro, and mix well
- To another bowl, combine lime juice honey, remaining oil, and salt.
- Add quinoa mixture to the bowl and toss it. Garnish with chile.
Quinoa Bowls with Avocado and Eggs
Quinoa Bowls with Avocado and eggs is the perfect breakfast meal that provides you with sufficient nutrition and energy to start your day.
What will you need?
- One cup of cooked tricolor quinoa
- One cup of grape tomatoes (halved)
- Half a cup of unsalted black beans (rinsed, drained and warmed)
- Two tablespoons of cilantro (chopped)
- Two large omega-3 eggs
- Half-ripe avocado (sliced)
- One-fourth teaspoon of kosher salt
- One teaspoon of red wine vinegar
- Two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
How to Prepare?
- To a bowl add one and a half teaspoon of olive oil, some salt, and vinegar.
- Mix them together
- To the mix add hot quinoa, beans, cilantro, tomatoes and one-eighth teaspoon of salt.
- Mix the ingredients well
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium
- Coat it with half a teaspoon of oil
- To the pan add eggs
- Cook them until the white portion is set and the yolk is still runny.
- Over the quinoa mixture drizzles the dressing and top it with eggs and avocado.
- Sprinkle some salt and garnish with cilantro.
Side-effects of Quinoa
Quinoa is a great food that you can enjoy in numerous ways. However, consuming too much of Quinoa can be a trouble. Below-mentioned is some of the side-effects of consuming an excessive amount of Quinoa.
- Quinoa seeds have a natural coating of saponin. An excessive amount of saponin can irritate your stomach and affect the inner lining of your intestine.
- Excess of fiber present in quinoa can also cause bloating and diarrhea.
- Oxalic acid present in quinoa can combine with calcium to form kidney stones.
Packed with high amounts of proteins, fibers, antioxidants, and essential vitamin and minerals, Quinoa is a powerhouse of nutrition. From improving the functioning of your vital organs to preventing skin aging and keeping you young and active, quinoa benefits are many. You can try numerous delicious quinoa recipes to enjoy excellent health.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is quinoa gluten-free?
Yes, Quinoa is gluten-free. But it does contain some storage proteins that mimic gluten found in wheat, barley and other grains which can cause a reaction in patients that have a history of gluten sensitivity,
2. What does quinoa taste like?
Quinoa grain has a nutty and earthy texture. When overcooked it gets gummy.
3. Can you cook quinoa in a rice cooker?
Yes, one can cook quinoa in a rice cooker. It is the easiest method to cook quinoa. Just add quinoa and water in your rice cooker in the ratio 1:2 and let it cook.