What is Quinoa?Perhaps to your surprise, it is not a grain so it is not a cereal either. Quinoa is a seed or, as some describe it, a 'pseudo-cereal'. It can be cooked and eaten like grains and it even contains nutrients similar to grains. However, it is genetically related to vegetables such as beets, chard, and spinach. For this reason, you can also eat the leaves of the plant.
Quinoa is a complete proteinNutritionally, Quinoa offers the highest amount of protein in a grain (or seed, really) because it is a complete protein. Complete proteins provide all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs, but cannot make on its own. Other grains, such as rice are do not contain all 9 essential amino acids and must therefore be mixed with legumes such as lentils or chickpeas to provide complete protein. One of those essential amino acids, lysine, is especially high in Quinoa. Importantly Lysine supports immune health and muscle repair while reducing anxiety. Moreover, when you compare one cup of Quinoa to one cup of rice, it contains about 12 grams of protein whereas rice only contains about 5 grams of protein. And overall, contains around 25 percent more protein than refined grains.
5 Additional Health Benefits
- Lowers blood pressure and heart disease risk – Oleic acid, the same healthy fatty acid found in olive oil, makes up 30 percent of the fatty acids found in Quinoa and has shown to lower blood pressure as well as overall heart disease risk
- Higher omega-3 levels – Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which makes up 5 percent of the fatty acids found in Quinoa, provides a beneficial amount of plant-based omega-3s.
- Stronger immunity – Rich in many antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol. Quercetin functions as a natural antihistamine while kaempferol lowers your risk of chronic disease. And the phenolic acids in Quinoa fight inflammation within your body’s fat tissue and intestines
- Balances blood sugar levels– Along with Quinoa’s antioxidant properties, it has been shown to be useful in balancing blood sugar thereby lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes or at least making diabetes more manageable.
- Increases fibre intake– In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease, the high fibre content makes you feel full longer. This is an excellent aid for weight loss!