It may be not as popular as other food grains like wheat or barley, but its more than 5000 year long cultivation history and health benefits explains why it was sacred, and why it will remain sacred (figuratively) among the many food items that are consumed. It’s quinoa we’re talking about. Cultivated in the Andean mountain regions of Peru, Chile, and Bolivia for over five millenniums, quinoa has long been a staple food for native Indians. However it was not more than 30 years ago that two Americans, upon discovering the nutritional quotient of quinoa, began cultivating it in Colorado. Since then, quinoa, with its nutty taste and chewy texture, has been recognized by the world as a delicious food grain full of exceptional health benefits. Though it is considered as a grain, scientifically it is closely related to leafy vegetables such as spinach, beets, and Swiss chards. Nonetheless, quinoa continues to deliver the health benefits. Continue reading to know more about this less-known but absolutely nutritious grain.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
- Proteins are crucial for building and repairing body’s tissues and quinoa is a goldmine for proteins. It has higher protein content than wheat, barley, or any other grain and facilitates basic functions like growth, digestion, and excretion. For all the vegetarians looking to increase their protein intake, quinoa is their best call.
- Quinoa is a good source of mineral magnesium and vitamin B12. Increased supply of both these nutrients into the body is known to relax the blood vessels, thereby preventing the recurring capacity of migraines. The duo also assists in improving the energy metabolism within the brain muscles and cells.
- High magnesium content found in quinoa reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and abnormally high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, heart arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and heart attack.
- Nutrients like folate and vitamin B lend quinoa its detoxifier properties and helps the liver play its role in eliminating wastes from the body. It does so by easing the processing of food through the digestive tract. Quinoa’s vitamin B content helps keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood.
- Quinoa can be easily enjoyed by people who have digestive disorders like celiac disease or by those who are allergic to wheat, as it is gluten-free.
- Quinoa is a blessing for those who are lactose intolerant and cannot enjoy on the health benefits of dairy products. It contains good proportions of plant derived calcium that is known to be beneficial in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Combined with essential minerals like potassium, zinc, and magnesium; quinoa facilitates healthy functioning of heart, nerves, and muscles.
- Quinoa is rich source of insoluble fiber and if eaten as part of regular diet, it can help reduce the risk of gallstone in women by speeding the process of movement of food through the intestines. The same high fiber content also helps in reducing the risk of breast cancer.
- According to the studies, the higher intake of whole grains such as quinoa is directly linked to increased insulin sensitivity by lowering the glycemic index of the diet while increasing the content of fiber and magnesium, thereby reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Quinoa is an excellent food source for people looking to shed some weight without losing out on health. It contains good amounts of vitamins, minerals, and proteins but is low in terms of fat and calories content.
- Quinoa is rich in carbohydrates, an efficient fuel for energy production required by children and athletes. A steady consumption of quinoa helps in restoring the lost energy of the children and adults.
- The high content of copper present in quinoa helps in oxidizing glucose, producing skin coloring agent melanin and acting as catalyst in the formation of hemoglobin.
- According to the reports, a cup of cooked quinoa offers 15 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power.
Quinoa can be eaten as a cereal breakfast, mixed with vegetables, added to soups and salads, and used in baked products. Do yourself a favor and make Quinoa a part of your regular diet!