This ancient grain (technically a seed) is packed with nutrition, easy to use, versatile in recipes, and best of all, delicious!
Highly valued in the ancient Inca civilization, quinoa is a nutrient-dense seed with a nutty flavor and chewy texture. Quinoa isn’t technically a grain as it doesn’t come from a grass, like wheat, barley, corn, or rice. This tiny seed comes from a plant more closely related to spinach and beets. It has been used for at least 5,000 years as a food staple in South America.
Quinoa has more protein than other grains like rice, barley, and wheat.
One cup of quinoa even has two grams more protein than a large egg. The protein in quinoa is also a complete protein, offering all the essential amino acids a human requires to build strong muscle and connective tissue, and create all the enzymes we use in a myriad of ways throughout the body. This amino acid profile is similar to the balance provided by milk and it includes lysine, often missing in plant-based proteins.
Quinoa is gluten free, unlike many grains.
Since this grain-like seed isn’t really a grain and isn’t even remotely related to wheat, there’s no gluten to worry about. Those with Celiac disease can use quinoa without fear and those who suspect they may have some form of gluten sensitivity can rely on this seed in place of pasta and more.
This seed contains complex carbohydrates that break down slowly to supply long term energy without the dangers of sugar spikes. The low calorie nature of quinoa also makes it a great food for anyone wanting to lose weight as it is still quite filling.
Quinoa comes packed with fiber.
Many grains are stripped of their fiber before being packaged and sold to the public. This makes them easier and faster to cook and improves the texture for many people. Quinoa doesn’t need this processing to be easily added to meals, so it gets to keep the valuable fiber that works to lower cholesterol, cleanse toxins, improve digestion, keep us full longer, and stabilize blood sugar.
Quinoa contains more calcium than other grains.
In a world where osteoporosis is increasingly a problem, calcium from healthy sources is even more important. Quinoa helps build, repair, and maintain strong bones and teeth.
These aren’t the only benefits of this ancient grain. Quinoa is rich in B vitamins, iron, manganese, magnesium, and copper. All these nutrients are important to metabolism and a multitude of functions within the body. Quinoa is a prebiotic that helps feed the friendly microflora of the intestines. It also contains saponins. Saponins are bitter, soap-like compounds that plants use to resist pests and fungal attacks. They should be rinsed off before eating to limit the bitter flavor, but some will remain with the seeds and that’s a good thing. Saponins help lower cholesterol, inhibit cancer growth, stimulate the immune system, and serve as antioxidants to protect cells against free radical damage. The leaves of the quinoa plant are also edible, work in the place of spinach, and pack a ton more nutrition into each tasty leaf than its cousin.