In the recent years, Quinoa has gained a lot of popularity, and is also considered as one of the best “health Foods”; and for all good reasons! Apart from having uncountable health benefits, it also has a good taste, and therefore, it is widely accepted by the people.
Before we get into the exact benefits, let’s first learn about what is quinoa. Quinoa is a small, grain-like seed originally from South America. It has a mild nutty, grainy flavour and when cooked properly has a lovely chewy texture similar to cooked barley.
It’s higher in protein than most grains. And a good source of fiber. It’s low GI, so a better choice than many grains.
A FEW SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT QUINOA
This includes plant antioxidants called flavonoids, which have been shown to offer various health benefits. Two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied are quercetin and kaempferol, both found in high amounts in quinoa. In fact, the quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than in typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries.
These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies.
By including quinoa in your diet, you will significantly increase your total intake of these (and other) important nutrients.
1) VERY HIGH IN FIBER, MUCH HIGHER THAN MOST GRAINS
Another important benefit of quinoa is its high fibre content. This is almost more than twice as high as most grains. Boiled quinoa contains much less fibre, gram for gram because it absorbs so much water. Unfortunately, most of the fibre is insoluble, which doesn’t appear to have the same health benefits as soluble fibre.
Numerous studies show that soluble fibre can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss
2) GLUTEN-FREE AND PERFECT FOR PEOPLE WITH GLUTEN INTOLERANCE
A gluten-free diet can be healthy, as long as it’s based on foods that are naturally gluten-free. Problems arise when people eat gluten-free foods made with refined starches. These foods are no better than their gluten-containing counterparts, as gluten-free junk food is still junk food. Many researchers have been looking at quinoa as a suitable ingredient in gluten-free diets for people who don’t want to give up staples like bread and pasta.
3) VERY HIGH IN PROTEIN, WITH ALL THE ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
Protein is made of amino acids, nine of which are called essential, as your body cannot produce them and needs to obtain them through your diet.
If a food contains all nine essential amino acids, it’s referred to as a complete protein.
The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as lysine.
However, quinoa is an exception to this, because it contains sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids. For this reason, it’s an excellent source of protein. It has both more and better protein than most grains.
4) HAS A LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX, WHICH IS GOOD FOR BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
The glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise your blood sugar levels. Eating foods that are high on the glycaemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity.
Such foods have also been linked to many of the common, chronic, Western diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Quinoa has a glycaemic index of 53, which is considered low. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s still fairly high in carbs. Therefore, it’s not a good choice if you’re following a low-carb diet.
5) HIGH IN IMPORTANT MINERALS LIKE IRON AND MAGNESIUM
Many people don’t get enough of certain important nutrients. This is particularly true of some minerals, especially magnesium, potassium, zinc and (for women) iron. Quinoa is very high in all 4 minerals, particularly magnesium.
6) HAS BENEFICIAL EFFECTS ON METABOLIC HEALTH
Given its high beneficial nutrient content, it makes sense that quinoa could improve metabolic health. To date, two studies, in humans and rats respectively, examined the effects of quinoa on metabolic health. The human-based study found that using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free breads and pastas significantly reduced blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels.
7) HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Quinoa is very high in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight aging and many diseases.
8) MAY HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
In order to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn. Certain food properties can promote weight loss, either by boosting metabolism or reducing appetite. Interestingly, quinoa has several such properties. It’s high in protein, which can both increase metabolism and reduce appetite significantly. The high amount of fibre may increase feelings of fullness, making you eat fewer calories overall.
9) EASY TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR DIET
While not directly a health benefit, the fact that quinoa is very easy to incorporate into your diet is nonetheless important. It also tasty and goes well with many foods, and also tastes nice.