What is Quinoa?
Although it has just found it’s way into the spotlight of modern food culture, it is no mere health food trend; quinoa has been a staple in the human diet for thousands of years. Often served like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed, which is why it’s gluten free, packed with protein and contains a ton of health-boosting nutrients. You can cook and serve this superfood in just 20 minutes, making it both quicker to prepare and a healthier option than rice. Still skeptical? Keep reading to learn about 13 different health benefits you could experience by eating quinoa regularly.
1. Complete Protein
In addition to having a higher protein content than the grains we replace with it, quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids, [the building blocks of protein that our body cannot create on its own and must be consumed in our diet]. Since it contains a lot of the nutrients crucial to human survival, it’s believed that quinoa can have an incredible impact in preventing hunger and starvation in developing countries. Fun fact: for the same reason, NASA has performed studies about the ability to grow quinoa on other planets.
2. Contains Lysine
Lysine is 1 of the 9 essential amino acids that is often missing from plant-based foods. It’s main function is tissue repair, which is critical for recovery from workouts and injury.
3. High Fiber Content
Although it’s technically a seed, quinoa has close to double the fiber content of the grains it’s prepared and consumed like. A diet high in fiber promotes digestive health, heart health and can both prevent and improve the symptoms of Type II Diabetes.
4. Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index of a food measures the effect consuming that food has on blood glucose levels and ultimately the risk that food poses to your heart health and/or risk of developing Type II Diabetes. Certain fad diets claim the glycemic index of quinoa is too high, but other foods with a similar amount of carbohydrates can cause far more dramatic spikes in blood glucose levels.
5. Can Actively Lower Blood Glucose & Cholesterol
To continue the point above, not only does quinoa have a reasonable glycemic index, but research has found that eating it aids your body in more effectively balancing blood glucose levels post-meal, which can likely be credited to its fiber and magnesium content. One study even found that eating quinoa was often more effective at lowering cholesterol than the standard statin medications that are prescribed to do it for you.
6. High in Antioxidants
Quinoa provides phytonutrients that do everything from improving skin complexion, to boosting the immune system, to improving mood, and even reducing the risk of cancer.
The antioxidant and fiber content of this grain-like seed make it particularly effective in reducing inflammation, which is often the underlying cause of chronic disease, including cancer. If you’re currently healthy, eating quinoa often can help prevent the development of such health issues. If you’re already battling chronic disease, eating quinoa often can help alleviate some of the symptoms you may struggle to manage.
8. Rich in Iron
Even if you’re not anemic, [iron deficient], consuming iron is essential to your brain health and muscular function. A single cup of quinoa provides 15% of the recommended daily allowance of iron, which is a huge boost for vegans, vegetarians or anyone who struggles to ingest enough of the nutrient.
9. High in Magnesium
Magnesium is a nutrient often missing in the modern diet. It’s a powerhouse of a mineral that supports brain health, heart health, bone and tooth health, energy production and your body’s natural detoxification processes. A single cup of quinoa will fill you with 30% of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Yet another reason to eat up!
10. Lots of Manganese
Manganese is an antioxidant that people also have trouble consuming enough of. It’s a protector of the small, yet vital, mitochondria that pump out the energy we rely on for our body to function and it protects our red blood cells from cancer-causing free radicals. One cup of quinoa has more than half of the recommended daily allowance of Manganese!
11. Provides Plenty of Riboflavin [Vitamin B2]
B Vitamins play a critical role in energy production for both our brain and our muscles. Eating quinoa regularly can help you consume enough Riboflavin to keep you on your A-game, both mentally and physically.
12. Antiseptic Properties
When quinoa is processed, saponin, which functions as an anti-microbial, is removed. The Incans use to use the saponin after it was removed from quinoa to treat skin injuries. There’s currently research being conducted on the antiseptic properties of quinoa and the effects it can have on gut health.
13. Supports Muscle-Building & Weight Loss
Thanks to it’s high protein, lysine and iron content, quinoa promotes optimal muscle recovery and hypertrophy post-workout. In addition, diets high in fiber both increase satiety and reduce appetite, which is why boosting fiber intake is recommended for achieving weight loss. The high fiber content of quinoa, paired with it’s anti-inflammatory properties, make it a staple in a lot of weight loss meal plans.