Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds. It technically isn’t a cereal grain, but a pseudo-cereal. In other words, it is basically a “seed” that is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain.

  1. Quinoa was an important crop for the Inca Empire back in the day. They referred to it as the “mother of all grains” because the Incas believed it increased the stamina of their warriors.
  2. NASA has proposed quinoa as an ideal food for long-duration space flights.
  3. There are roughly 120 known varieties of quinoa, according to the Whole Grains Council
  4. The outer hull of quinoa seeds is covered with Saponin, a naturally occurring organic compound that protects quinoa from insects and birds. Saponin is a bitter, resin-like substance that forms a soapy solution in water. It must be removed before cooking and eating or the quinoa can have a strong, bitter flavor that some people find unpleasant. Andean families have traditionally used the saponin-filled wash water from quinoa as a shampoo. Saponin has also been used to make detergents, toothpaste, and even antibiotics!

5 Health Benefits of Quinoa

Protein rich

It is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat.

There are nine amino acids that are referred to as essential, as your body cannot produce them and needs to obtain them through your diet. Quinoa contains all nine and is referred to as a complete protein.

With 8 grams of quality protein per cup (185 grams), quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source.

Control diabetes

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise your blood sugar levels.

Eating foods that are high in the glycemic 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 glycemic index of 53, which is considered low.

It also contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. One cup of quinoa contains 5 grams of dietary fiber, which is more than white or brown rice.

Fiber helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes, lowering cholesterol and glucose levels, and may help you to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food.

Boost circulation

One cup of quinoa supplies 2.76 mg of iron, providing 34.5% of the recommended intake for males and 15.33% for females. Maintaining adequate levels of iron is essential for good health.

Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation, carries oxygen from one cell to another, and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. So your workouts will feel much better!

It also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. 

Increases energy

Riboflavin, also called vitamin B2, helps you produce energy and is an antioxidant that fights harmful free radicals in your body, improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells, and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.

Exercise produces stress in the metabolic pathways that use riboflavin. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine state that vegetarian athletes are at risk of riboflavin deficiency because of their increased need for this nutrient and because some vegetarians exclude all animal products (including milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs), which tend to be good sources of riboflavin, from their diets. 

Lower blood pressure

One cup of cooked quinoa contains 118 mg of magnesium. Although the daily recommended amount increases with age, quinoa is a good source of the mineral.

Magnesium is essential for the function of more than 300 enzymatic reactions and is present in every cell of the body. Helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. 

Ready to add quinoa to your diet? Download the recipes!

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