If you haven’t been to Mt. Airy grocery stores recently, you’ll be surprised at how many products once carried almost exclusively by health food stores are now at mainstream groceries. One of the more popular items that has made a resurgence is quinoa, pronounced KEEN-Wah. It’s not new but was originally part of the diet of the Incas, approximately 6,000 years ago. It’s used as a grain but is a pseudo grain. There are many health benefits of quinoa, which include its high protein content.
The Incas called quinoa the Mother Grain.
There’s good reason for that name. Quinoa is loaded with nutrients. It not only is high in vitamins and minerals, which include calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, B6 and folic acid, but also is high in essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that the body can’t make. In fact, it’s one of the few plant sources that contains all the essential amino acids.
Quinoa is easy on the digestive tract and loaded with antioxidants.
Unlike many grains, this pseudo grain contains no gluten, yet contains many of the nutrients that true grains provide. In fact, you can use it the same way you’d use most grains, plus add it to dishes for a meatless Monday that provides the protein for the meal. It contains healthy fat and has a lot of fiber, both of which are mandatory for a healthy body. The phenolic acid, saponins, flavonoids and betacyanin’s contained in quinoa are antioxidants that protect the cells.
The fiber helps control blood sugar and blood lipid levels.
Fiber slows the absorption of glucose into the blood and also aids in controlling cholesterol levels. Quinoa also contains phytoecdysteroids, which also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Controlling blood sugar levels can reduce the risk of diabetes. Not only does the fiber in quinoa keep blood glucose levels in check, it also keeps blood lipid levels under control. It also aids in fighting chronic inflammation, but so do other compounds in quinoa, like quercetin and kaempferol. That means consuming it regularly can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, including quinoa in your menu can give you a boost. The high protein and fiber food can fill you up quicker and keep you feeling full longer. It also has a low glycemic index.
- You can use quinoa in a number of ways. It can be part of a main dish because of its high protein content or used as a healthy side dish. When steaming or boiling, rinse quinoa first to remove the saponins, which can cause it to taste bitter.
- Quinoa comes in a wide range of colors that range from white, to red and finally, to black. The darker the seed, the more antioxidants it contains. Toasting quinoa means you don’t have to rinse it, but the best way to boost benefits is by sprouting it.
- If you like brown rice, you’ll probably like quinoa. It has a nutty flavor similar to the rice. It provides a slight crunch yet is also fluffy. You can even use it as a hot breakfast cereal to help you start the day right.
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