Health Benefits of Seed High in Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
Quinoa is a low-fat source of protein and rich in essential nutrients. Learn the health benefits of quinoa and why it’s one of the most nutritious foods available.
Although technically a seed, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is commonly referred to and used most often as a grain. Once only available in health foods stores, quinoa is now available year-round in most supermarkets and is one of the most nutritious foods one can eat.
Nutrients in Quinoa
One cup (cooked) quinoa contains eight grams of protein, nearly twice the amount found in other grains. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it provides the body all nine essential amino acids. In addition to being a good source of protein, quinoa also contains:
Health Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa is rich in magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and selenium, which help to control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies suggest quinoa is high in antioxidant activity, helping to protect the body from free radical damage. Like other grains, quinoa is rich in lignans, a phytonutrient found to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as certain types of cancer.
Quinoa is a high-fiber food with five grams of fiber per cup (cooked). Fiber not only promotes digestive health, but may also reduce the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women, may prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes, promotes weight loss, and aids weight maintenance.
Needed for tissue repair and to build and maintain muscle, protein is used by almost every cell in the body. Foods high in protein also promote satiety and research suggests a protein-rich diet may speed weight loss.
Quinoa is gluten-free, making it a nutritious substitute for those with wheat allergies or suffering from celiac disease.
Quinoa can be eaten by itself as a breakfast cereal, mixed with vegetables, added to soup and salads, used to make flour, breads and biscuits or used as a substitution for pasta, couscous or rice.
Before cooking quinoa, clean the seeds by placing them in a strainer and running under cold water while rubbing the seeds together. To cook quinoa, simmer one cup of quinoa in two cups water or stock for 15 to 20 minutes. This yields approximately four cups cooked quinoa. To enhance quinoa’s nutty flavor, dry roast the seeds by cooking them in a skillet on medium-low heat for five minutes, stirring constantly.