Going gluten-free has become a major tenant among modern health gurus. So a little known grain from the South American Andes, quinoa, has risen rapidly in the spotlight. It is a great replacement for gluten and an excellent source of vegetable protein for a vegetarian diet. But quinoa benefits your overall health in a number of different ways.
Let’s take a closer look at quinoa and then dive right in to the top 10 quinoa benefits.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal. This is because it is produced from the seeds of a flowering plant rather than from the head of a grass. It originated in the Andean regions of South America and began to be cultivated for domestic consumption between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. Even today, quinoa has limited cultivation because it grows best at altitudes between 8,000 and 13,000 feet.
Quinoa is typically prepared like rice and is used in a variety of dishes and recipes like these simple quinoa recipes. It’s nutty flavor, and fluffy/crunchy texture is a welcome change from rice and other grains. You can also find ground quinoa flour in health food stores and use it as a wheat flour substitute.
Let’s take a closer look at quinoa’s nutritional profile in order to get a better understanding of why there are so many quinoa benefits. In 1 cup (185g) of quinoa are the following nutrients:
• Protein 8g;
• Fiber 5g;
• Manganese 58% of daily value (DV);
• Magnesium 30% DV;
• Phosphorus 28% DV;
• Folate and copper 19% DV;
• Iron and zinc 15% DV;
• Vitamins B1, B2 and B6 over 10% DV;
• Potassium 9% DV.
Quinoa also contains two plant flavonoids called quercetin and kaempferol. These are abundant and very potent in this seed. In fact, quercetin is more abundant in quinoa than in any other food. With the combination of these nutrients and flavonoids, it isn’t hard to see how there are so many quinoa benefits for a vegetarian diet and beyond.
Top 10 Quinoa Benefits for Your Overall Health
Polish studies indicate that one of the most important quinoa benefits was as an aid in reducing cholesterol. Their findings indicated that total serum cholesterol, LDL and trigylcerides were all significantly reduced due to quinoa.
Balances Blood Sugar
Balancing blood sugar and treating type 2 diabetes are among the other quinoa benefits. In a Brazilian University study, researchers noted that the consumption of quinoa is an effective dietary strategy for type 2 diabetes.
Helps Prevent Anemia
Another of the major quinoa benefits is that it helps prevent anemia. At 15% DV of iron, you’re getting a pretty good boost of an essential nutrient which plays a major role in preventing a number of serious health conditions according to a Virginia Polytechnic University study.
Plant-based Protein for Vegetarians and Vegans
It provides 16.5 grams of protein per 100 grams of dry weight, according to the U.S. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). So quinoa benefits vegetarians and vegans as a plant based protein source.
Among the many potent quinoa benefits is the reduction of inflammation. Findings from a Chinese study suggested that:
Saponins from the quinoa have the potential to anti-inflammation by suppressing the release of inflammatory cytokines.
Protects Against UV Radiation
The abundance of zinc in this powerful super-food provides another item for our list of quinoa benefits. According to a Duke University study, zinc is a major contributor in protecting your skin and epidermal tissues from UV radiation damage.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota report that a major contributor to obesity and difficulty in losing weight is due to the consumption of low fiber foods. Since there are 5 grams of fiber in a single cup of quinoa, assisting in weight loss can also be counted among our quinoa benefits.
Protecting your liver and promoting optimal liver function is also among the many quinoa benefits. Zinc deficiency is one of the major contributing factors of individuals with liver disease, according to a University of Louisville inquiry. This is however something you don’t have to worry about if you eat plenty of quinoa.
Helps Prevents Osteoporosis
Also a key item on the list of quinoa benefits is its help in preventing osteoporosis. A cup of quinoa provides 30% DV of magnesium, a mineral which is critical in the prevention of osteoporosis, according to Italian scientists.
Helps Promote Longevity
If you’re planning on living longer, you’re in luck. This is because that is another of the top quinoa benefits. The abundance of minerals found in quinoa helps you achieve your anti-aging goals. But the high fiber content is a major contributor as well, says a Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health report.
A Note of Caution
There really aren’t any real drawbacks to consuming quinoa. It is best to make sure that the seeds are rinsed thoroughly as part of preparation. This is because of the natural coating of saponins, which can be a stomach irritant to some.
Quinoa lowers blood pressure and triglyceride concentrations more significantly when compared to other gluten-free bread and pasta. Caution is advised for patients who take triglyceride-or blood pressure lowering agents. It might make them too low.
As with all foods that are to be used in therapeutic amounts, it is best to check with a health care professional concerning possible adverse interaction with prescription drugs.
A Final Word
With such solid evidence behind the many quinoa benefits it is no wonder this super-food has gained so much prominence in the diet and nutrition world. If you hope to prevent or treat any of the above health conditions or disorders, then you need to start working quinoa into your regular diet.
With so many great benefits for vegetarians and beyond, you can’t go wrong with quinoa. Share your favorite recipes and testimonials of wellness successes from quinoa in the comments section below.