Key ingredients: Quinoa

Key ingredients: Quinoa

Quinoa is becoming ever more popular in the food world, sprouting up on grocery shelves and in restaurant dishes. Still, many of us don't know what it is or why it's considered a beneficial part of a healthy, balanced diet. So what exactly is this new superfood (which, in fact, isn't new at all) and what are its nutritional benefits?

Although quinoa is often categorized as a grain, it’s actually a seed. And it's loaded with protein—as much as 25 percent more protein than refined grains, in fact. Quinoa has been called a complete protein, since it's one of the only plant-based foods that provides the body with essential amino acids (those that the body does not produce on its own) in relatively equal amounts for a healthy balance.

Quinoa is also packed with healthy oils and fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, making it a tremendously nutritious little seed. One serving can deliver between 10 and 20 percent of the daily allotment of a wide variety of essential nutrients, including fiber, iron, copper, thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and folate.

Quinoa comes in 1,800 varieties and a wide array of colors. Here in the U.S., the most common varieties are the traditional white and the Incan red, which contains more nutrients.

The benefits of including quinoa in your daily diet are numerous. Since quinoa possesses many anti-inflammatory nutrients, it may help to reduce unhealthy inflammation associated with a range of diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease. Quinoa is gluten-free, so it is recommended for people with Celiac disease (severe gluten intolerance) because those who have to adhere to a gluten-free diet can have trouble getting all the nutrients they need.

Quinoa also aids in good intestinal health, since it promotes the presence of the friendly digestive bacteria known as probiotics. The fiber in quinoa can also aid proper digestive function. When it comes to heart health, quinoa can aid in lowering the bad LDL cholesterol associated with heart disease.  

Quinoa is easy to cook (taking only 12 to 15 minutes) and can be eaten hot or cold. Try it in a hot cereal for breakfast, mixed into salad for lunch or as a tasty pilaf-style side dish. Quinoa is also a good substitute for rice or pasta, and quinoa flour can be used in gluten-free baking. Browse the many quinoa recipes available online to discover all the ways you can incorporate quinoa into your healthy diet.

Posted: 9/04/2015 by Goshen Health
Filed under: eating, healthy, ingredients, key, quinoa

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