Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and other ancient grains such as amaranth, barley and farro are rapidly growing in popularity because of their wide array of health benefits. Quinoa was known to the Incas as “the mother of all grains” and was first cultivated over 5000 years ago.
Quinoa is an equally impressive food in terms of its overall phytonutrient benefits. In many Central and South American countries, the leaves of the quinoa plant are valued for their betacyanin pigments, which provide some of their bright reddish shades. Here are 19 health benefits of quinoa.
1. Helps Prevent Cancer
Quinoa is rich in flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that help heal and prevent many types of illnesses, including one called quercetin. In fact, Quinoa has one of the highest sources of quercetin naturally occurring in foods (even higher than cranberries). Quercetin has been shown to reduce the risk of multiple types of cancer.
2. Promotes Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
It turns out that eating quinoa also reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, but it can also help you keep those glucose levels balanced if you already have diabetes. This is due to the fact that it’s rich in complex carbohydrates, or healthy carbohydrates, that slowly digest and keep you satiated for longer while keeping your blood sugar and appetite level.
3. Contains All Amino Acids
One of the most impressive qualities of Quinoa is its protein make-up. It’s not animal source of protein but boasts some pretty good numbers. The protein alone would be enough to eat it, but it contains all 8 of the amino acids that your body needs to truly function at its best. There are supplements out there that you can buy to get all of those amino acids in one place, or you can start eating Quinoa daily to get them from a natural food source.
4. Maintains Efficient Heart and Blood Vessel Function
Several food studies also tout this super grain as a good source of magnesium, a vital mineral required for optimal metabolism, cardiovascular, and blood vessel function.
5. Lessens Symptoms of Anaemia
Rich in iron, quinoa is an excellent addition to the diet of those with anaemia. Iron is essential to carrying oxygen through the body, so many people find that adding quinoa to the diet gives them greater endurance and energy during workouts. For those that have trouble keeping up with their iron needs, Quinoa can be a big help with that, and it also is a tastier option than taking an iron supplement. In just a one cup serving you’re getting 15% of how much iron you need each day. That’s a good boost to your system and can assist with any deficiencies. Getting enough iron is good for your brain and your muscles, and having the right amount will prevent anemia.
6. High in Magnesium
Magnesium doesn’t get as much attention as some other vitamins and minerals do, but it’s still an important mineral that your body needs in order to help prevent things like osteoporosis and heart disease, while helping to balance blood pressure and helping with diabetes. You can get one third of your RDA of magnesium from just one full serving of Quinoa. That’s pretty impressive since many foods only contain a trace amount of it, or none at all.
7. Low on the Glycemic Index
Quinoa clocks in at 53 on the Glycemic Index, which limbos under the 55 required to be considered a food that helps to stabilize your blood sugar. This makes it a good food if you’re trying to prevent getting diabetes, and you can combine it with any other foods that are also low on the GI scale so that you can nourish yourself without having to worry about spiking your blood glucose levels. Some diets, like the Paleo diet, consider a ranking of 53 high, so it’s all a matter of perspective and what your end goal is.
8. Excellent Nutritional and Functional Properties
Lillian Abugoch James of the University of Chile reported on the composition, chemistry, nutritional and functional properties of quinoa. She cited the pseudocereal’s “remarkable nutritional qualities” including its high protein content (15%), “great amino acid balance,” and “notable Vitamin E content.” Beyond its nutritional profile, Abugoch recommends quinoa to food manufacturers because of its useful functional properties, such as viscosity and freeze stability.
9. Contains Flavonoids
There are flavonoids in Quinoa that are typically only found in other foods like berries, and the levels that it contains are pretty substantial. These flavonoids can help with things like cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions. This means that if you are at risk for heart disease or just want to do your best to prevent it, you can start eating more Quinoa and be doing a great service in this regard. And if you have arthritis or other inflammatory conditions you should start adding more of it to your diet right away for potential relief.
10. Better Lipid Effects from Quinoa
Also at the University of Milan, researchers compared the digestibility of various gluten-free foods in the lab (in vitro) and then with a group of healthy volunteers (in vivo). Their goal was to gauge the effect of the different foods on postprandial glucose and insulin response, as well as to measure triglycerides and free fatty acids after eating. Quinoa stood out in the study, for producing lower free fatty acid levels and triglyceride concentrations than other GF pastas and breads studied.
11. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Recent research is showing that Quinoa may be an anti-inflammatory food. But you don’t have to wait for the research to confirm what many are already saying to be true. So many people report getting relief from their inflammatory conditions after they start eating Quinoa. There are several vitamins and minerals that it contains, but it is the phytonutrients, those that help battle back free radical damage with their antioxidant effect, that are the prime suspect for what’s causing the help in this area. It’s not very often that a food has this amount of healing properties, which makes it a bona fide superfood and one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
12. Lessens the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Numerous health studies have linked diets rich in quinoa with a reduced risk of developing future cardiovascular conditions—such as heart disease and stroke. This fiber rich food literally combs the walls of the arteries, removing plaque from the arterial walls, which can eventually build-up and cause a heart attack or stroke.
13. Promotes Healthy Digestion
If you tend to have troubles in the digestion department or suffer from constipation, quinoa is one food that will encourage things to, shall we say, move along nicely. A serving of quinoa is high in dietary fiber that promotes optimal digestion and healthy, regular bowel movements.
14. Supports a Gluten-Free Diet
If you suffer from Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, quinoa will be your new noshing best friend. Quinoa is technically a seed. However, it’s unrelated to wheat, making it the perfect substitute for pasta, wheat flour, oatmeal, and so much more. You can grind, boil, bake, steam, and even fry quinoa.
15. Helps You Avoid Getting Fat
The fiber in Quinoa helps the body get rid of unneeded fat, while also helping you to eat less by making you feel fuller longer. This will help you eat less overall, as well as help your digestive system process. The overall result is that if you have a problem with overeating, or a sluggish digestion, Quinoa can help on both counts. The results of adding Quinoa to your diet can typically be felt right away, as you start to feel lighter both by not eating as much, and having more regularity than you currently do.
16. Antiseptic Properties
During the processing of Quinoa there are saponins which are removed from it and then reused as an antiseptic, as well as a detergent. This shows just one more aspect of this superseed. There is some misperception as to what Quinoa is exactly, whether it’s a grain or a seed. The part that is edible is the seed, which makes it great for grain-free diets and diet plans. But the plant that it grows on is grain-like which causes the confusion. There are many benefits to the plant, and it shows just how versatile it can be, much the same way aloe can be eaten, and used to treat the skin.
17. Reduces Migraines
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from nasty migraine headaches, then you should be featuring quinoa in your regular weekly meal line up. Why? Quinoa is high in riboflavin, or vitamin B2, which promotes blood vessel expansion in the brain and reduces instances of migraine headaches.
18. Reduces Risk of Gallstones
Since quinoa is high in fiber, it helps keep the digestive system running smoothly, and can also help reduce your chance of getting gallstones. A study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, found that those eating foods mostly rich in insoluble fiber, had a 17% lower risk of getting gallstones.
19. Anti-Aging Benefits
Manganese is a powerful antioxidant that helps to slow down the aging process by destroying free radicals. As a result, quinoa is good for those concerned about the appearance of their skin.