Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quinoa Nutrition Facts

We’ve talked about quinoa before here at Healthy Body, Happy Spirit. Today we’re giving you a few more facts about one of my favorite healthy staples. Visual learner? Scroll down for the slideshow.

Quinoa Nutrition Facts

What Is Quinoa?

It’s a grain crop, grown primarily for its edible seeds. It’s also a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) and a pseudo cereal (its seeds can be ground into flour and consumed) rather than a true cereal, as it’s not a member of the true grass family.

It’s also closely related to species such as beetroot and spinach which have shrub like growth.

Where Does It Grow?

It originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.

It has gained popularity worldwide and is now cultivated and consumed in many countries such as the United States, Australia and Japan.

What are the nutritional benefits?

Essential Amino Acids and Minerals

Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine as well as important minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and iron. A deficiency of essential amino acids can lead to symptoms of nervousness, exhaustion, and dizziness. Quinoa can help protect against these symptoms. Calcium and iron are, of course, important nutrients, especially for women.


Quinoa consists of a unique combination of anti-inflammatory compounds. These may lead to a decreased risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions, including obesity.

The list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa is now known to include:

·        Polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans
·        Hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids
·        Flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol which are found in concentrated levels often higher than those of high flavonoid berries like cranberry or ligonberry
·        Saponins including molecules derived from oleanic acid, hederagenin and serjanic acid.
·        Small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also provided by quinoa.

Gluten Free

Quinoa is high in protein and lacks gluten which is good news for those who suffer from Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Super Food

The nutrient composition of quinoa is favorable compared with many common cereals earning the quinoa grain the title of being called a “super food”.

Nutritional evaluations indicate that quinoa is a source of complete protein, that is, it contains all the essential amino acids required in a human diet in correct proportions.

High In Protein

The protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice (Indian rice) and oats.  In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid).

High In Fiber

The grain is additionally a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.

Vegan Friendly and Good For Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant

It is also a source of calcium, and thus, is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

Exactly How Does One Consume Quinoa?

The seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

The good news is processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to significantly compromise the quality of quinoa's fatty acids, allowing us to enjoy its cooked texture and flavor while maintaining this nutritional benefit.

The leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is limited. In some forms the seeds are softened making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

What Makes Quinoa Special?

While it may be called a “pseudo-cereal” there is nothing fake about the health benefits of Quinoa. In fact, The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as "The International Year of the Quinoa."

Need some ways to incorporate quinoa into your diet? Grab this excellent recipe book, 500 Best Quinoa Recipes: 100% Gluten-Free Super-Easy Superfood.

Watch the slideshow below. Want to post this slideshow on your blog or website? You can. Go here and and click the embed button (it looks like this <>) under the slideshow to easily share on your own blog or site.

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