What Is Quinoa?
Whatever it is, let’s get the pronunciation right first. Keen-wah or ke-NO-ah. Yes, that’s how you pronounce it.
Quinoa, often called as “superfood” or a “supergrain,” is one of the world’s most popular health foods. If that’s a tad too generic, let’s get into the details. Quinoa (keen-wah, remember?) is a flowering plant that belongs to the amaranth family. It is an annual plant that is grown for its edible seeds. So, when we refer to the benefits of quinoa, we mean the benefits of its seeds. As the seeds are what we generally use.
The seeds are gluten-free. The composition of quinoa is similar to wheat or rice when cooked. It is an excellent source of protein (a complete source, as it contains all the nine essential amino acids). It also contains a good amount of fiber and minerals.
What Are The Benefits Of Quinoa?
Helps Fight Diabetes And Hypertension
Quinoa is a whole grain, and whole grains are great for diabetes. The fiber in quinoa doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. It also prevents diabetes-related weight gain and other chronic conditions.
A part of living with diabetes is all about taking foods that have low glycemic index, and quinoa, thankfully, is on the lower end. Quinoa also has all the amino acids to make protein (unlike most other grains), which also does a good job in controlling blood sugar levels.
One Brazilian study stated that a diet including quinoa could help manage type 2 diabetes and the hypertension associated with it . Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate – and such carbohydrates break down in the body much slowly, allowing the blood sugar to be more stable.
Quinoa also contains good amounts of magnesium and potassium, nutrients that help lower blood pressure. Magnesium also helps relax the blood vessels.
Enhances Digestive Health
Quinoa is rich in fiber, and that makes this point self-explanatory. Pretty much. Fiber adds bulk to the food churned in your stomach, and this stimulates the walls of your digestive tract. Your tract contracts, and this promotes better absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. In the large intestine, this fiber prevents constipation.
The B vitamins in quinoa also play a role in digestion. One of these is thiamin, which helps in the production of hydrochloric acid (the acid in your stomach that aids digestion).
Riboflavin aids in the development of cells lined in the walls of the digestive tract. Another amino acid quinoa contains is glutamic acid, which is converted into glutamine in your body. Glutamine is responsible for the health of the mucosal lining of your stomach.
Protects The Heart
Home is where the heart is, and that’s where even quinoa is.
Getting to the point, the soluble fiber is what makes quinoa a wonder food for your heart. The soluble fiber combines with the bile acids in your liver and produces a jelly-like substance that’s excreted in your bowels. Your liver utilizes some of the cholesterol in your body to produce these bile acids. When the stores are depleted, your liver pulls cholesterol from your blood to produce these acids.
Are you beginning to get the idea here? Good. Simply put, quinoa somehow provokes your liver to extract cholesterol from the blood. That’s it.
Eating quinoa means lower levels of bad cholesterol, and this means a reduced risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. And this means you are going to live longer. Party time, again!
Quinoa contains fatty acids, 25 percent of which comes in the form of oleic acid. Now, oleic acid is your friend. It is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid, and 8 percent of it is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is the omega-3 fatty acid predominantly found in plants.
How To Incorporate Quinoa In Your Diet
Since quinoa is completely gluten-free, it is a perfect food to include in a gluten-free diet. It also has very good digestibility, which decreases the risk of developing an adverse reaction to quinoa.
Quinoa can be a replacement to rice (both brown and white) as well. If we talk about brown rice, quinoa has more iron and magnesium than brown rice. The two have equal amounts of B vitamins. And with white rice, quinoa is a better choice any given day – just one cup of cooked quinoa has 40 fewer calories than the same amount of white rice. Also, white rice contains 15 times more carbs than quinoa, while quinoa is a great source of fiber and protein.