In recent years you may have heard your health conscious friends mention the name quinoa, waxing lyrical about its benefits, and how its right up there with other such newly anointed superfoods like kale, blueberries and acai berries.
But what exactly is quinoa? And what are its benefits? And where has it suddenly appeared from?
Well it is an ancient food that is located primarily in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile.
Why is it so good for you?
It is rich in protein and actually offers twice the amount of protein that oats do, and contains more fiber and iron as well.
As it has such a high protein count, it is used as a healthier alternative to rice. Its healthier because it has far more protein in a serving than rice, and doesn’t contain all the carbohydrates that normal white rice does.
Quinoa is also a great source of potassium which is needed for muscle and protein building and is full of antioxidants which help fight cell damage.
In a 100 g (3.5 oz.) serving, cooked provides 120 calories and is a moderate source (10-19% of the Daily Value, DV) of protein, dietary fiber, folate, and the dietary minerals, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese (table).
In other words, it’s really, really good for you!
It is also gluten free. So those of you who suffer from Celiac disease can use Quinoa as an alternative to your gluten free pastas and rices.
Wow, what an amazing grain this quinoa is!
Well…actually, it’s not a grain.
While your health nut mates may have been going on about the ‘magical, health properties of this new wonder grain quinoa’…it’s not actually, technically a grain.
Quinoa is actually a seed. It’s a seed that is harvested from a plant called a goosefoot. Its closer in DNA to spinach or beets than a grain. It just looks like a grain. That’s where the confusion lies.
But your hipster friends are not the only ones who have mistakenly labeled this wonder food as a grain. The South American farmers who would grow in the mountainous Andean region knew it as ‘chisaya mama’ or mother of grains.
It was particularly popular crop to grow as it was so robust. It was harvested during hot summers and could survive the Andean draughts unlike other crops which could not survive the climate.
What other health benefits does it have?
A helping of quinoa contains all the essential amino acids, something that is missing when consuming rice or beans. While rice and beans are great for protein content, most grains don’t have the acids isoleucine and lysine, however quinoa does!
Quinoa is also really high in fiber
One study that looked at 4 varieties of quinoa found a range of between 10 and 16 grams of fiber, per every 100 grams. This equals 17-27 grams per cup, which is very high, more than twice as high as most grains
So eating quinoa regularly…. will keep you regular!
Its also rich in magnesium
This is good for you as it magnesium helps to relax blood vessels, helping to alleviate migraines. The magnesium in quinoa may also help reduce Type 2 Diabetes by promoting healthy sugar control.
How do you cook this wonder food?
- Purchase a good quality organic quinoa.
- Wash using a strainer to eliminate saponin, the seed’s bitter outer coating.
- Boil in a saucepan, combining 2 cups water with one cup quinoa.
- Simmer in the pan for around 15 minutes once the quinoa is boiled.
- Once fully cooked through strain once, then bring back to a warm pot and leave to sit for around 15 minutes.