Quinoa: Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, and Dietary Tips

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What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a plant from the Amaranth family. Basically, it is a seed but is used and considered as a grain. These are mustard-shaped tiny grains that have all the essential amino acids and minerals in them. It is harvested from long hairy annual plants. The plant heights may reach 1-2 meters in length. It is mostly grown in coastal regions of the Andes. 

The outer layer has bitter-tasting (oxalic acid) covering on it. It helps to keep away birds and insects during cultivation. This can be said a natural insecticide provided by nature, which needs very less protection to the plant. 

For farmers, this plant called quinoa is very supportive. Production requires very less water, there is no need to put any scarecrow as birds will never eat these bitter-tasting seeds, also not any cattle will eat the quinoa crop. 

History of Quinoa:

Quinoa has been used for thousands of years by humans. The plant is genetically close to those of Spinach and beets.  It is a seed but often termed as a grain, it is due to its usage and close to grain. Moreover, it is much healthier than any grain and holds all the nutritive values that most of the grains do not. 

The plant is native to Peru and Bolivia. It is mostly grown on the mountains of the Andes and has the capability to survive even in harsh climatic conditions. The texture of the plant looks ornamental, with colors varying from purple to reddish to yellow. For Andean culture, the Quinoa plant is very important for centuries. 

Why is Quinoa getting popular in India these days?

If you see the graph of health freaks for about 70 years back, health consciousness was quite lesser. The rise in intellect, thinking ability, urbanization, rise in health issues, etc made people think about health. 

Now everyone knows about Brown rice, whole wheat, oats, millets, green tea, and all such healthy food that helps us to lead a healthy and long life. 

it is called a Supergrain! Yes, there is something in it that is not in any of the grain or food. There are 9 types of Amino acids which is required for a healthy body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and proteins are the building blocks of good health and muscular body. 

None of the grain holds these all amino acids in one type. Whether it is oats, brown rice, meat, fish, chicken, or any other protein source, there may be few amino acids but not the whole 9. But the good news for vegans, these all 9 amino acids are found in Quinoa itself. So it’s a complete protein! Quinoa is the only grain present that has all the amino acids in it. And also it is free from any complex carbohydrates. 

It is the product of South American countries but is rapidly getting popular in India too. Quinoa khichdi, Quinoa salad, Quinoa smoothie, and many more. If you are going to the gym or doing any workout, then you must include Quinoa in your diet. Especially in a vegetarian diet, these mustard-shaped grains are like a boon. 

Nutrition in Quinoa.

Quinoa can be said as the treasure of nutrition or super grain! The list of its nutritional profile is very big. The nutritive elements found in quinoa are listed below-

  • Protein
  • Dietary fibers
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin A,C,D,K
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium and many more

Widely known for its protein-rich property. A cup of cooked quinoa can give you about 8 gms of protein which is adequate for an individual. It is a plant-based source of protein that is also gluten-free in nature. 

As compared to any other grain it has double the amount of proteins, fibers, and iron in it. So this is not just for any health condition, it is for the entire family. 

Types of Quinoa:

Quinoa is found in three types. Each one has a different taste, if you are taking quinoa for the first time, you should better go for the white quinoa. It is easy to cook, with a nutty flavor, and easily digestible too. 

Those three types of quinoa are:

  1. White Quinoa
  2. Black Quinoa
  3. and Red Quinoa

In markets, you will also get quinoa which comes in a multicolor form. It is also called Rainbow Quinoa. 

Average cost as compared to other staple grains:

it is not produced in India. It is imported from American countries. In India, you can find it in supermarkets. It can be hard to find it in local grocery shops, as many people don’t know about this super grain. 

You can also order it online from Indian sites like Amazon.in, BigBasket etc. 

As this product is imported one, so its price is also some higher than other normal grains. 

  • 1 kg of Brown rice costs about 80-100 rupees
  • 1 kg of White rice costs around 60-80 rupees
  • 1 kg of Foxtail, Kodo, or Little Millet costs around 150-200 rupees
  • 1 kg of Whole Wheat flour may cost around 60-80 rupees
  • and 1 kg of Organic Quinoa will cost around 350-400 rupees 

Is Quinoa good for everyone?

Are you allergic to Quinoa? Many people report this, after having it they suffer from problems like itchiness, nausea, vomiting, rashes, etc. These may be due to intolerance or sensitivity to saponins. 

Saponins are found on the upper layer of it which gives it a bitter flavor. Many people find it allergic. 

If you also feel such then you can wash the quinoa seeds vigorously with water two to three times. It will help to remove the upper coating. Still, if you feel the sensitivity towards quinoa, then you can substitute it with other healthy grains.  

How to include in your diet?

Quinoa is indeed a healthy thing that offers you numerous health benefits. These tiny seeds hold lots o nutritive elements in them. Mostly quinoa is known for its protein-rich quality. For vegetarians or vegans, quinoa is a very good source of protein that is cruelty-free. 

If you want to lead a healthy life then you must include Quinoa at least in one serving for twice to thrice a week. 

Now a question arises how to include this superfood in you diet. There are some of the ways you can have quinoa. 

  • You can use it in your soups, stews and porridge etc.
  • it can be used as a side dish with any cuisine. 
  • It can be floured and used to prepare breads, chapattis and many other baked items. It has a nutty taste which is prefect to prepare breads and other bakery items in a healthy way. 
  • Quinoa is a very healthy alternative for rice. If you want to loose or gain weight in healthy way, then quinoa is just made for you. 
  • Quinoa can be used as an ingredient with boiled chicken, grilled cheese etc. 
  • Quinoa can also be used twice to thrice a week, as a lunch option like pulao, quinoa salad, stir fried quinoa and many more. 
  • Fluffy cooked quinoa can go with fruit salads, cutlets, patties, smoothies and many more. 
  • It can simply be simmered and prepared like rice. Like other grains, quinoa takes lesser time to get cooked. 

Important tips to prepare perfect Quinoa:

A perfectly cooked quinoa means fluffy, light, and non-sticky texture. However, in the first attempt, most of us fail to get this texture. A nice Here are some of the easy yet effective tips which will help you to prepare perfect quinoa easily. 

  1. Before cooking it, soak it in water for about 30-40 minutes. Soaking and rinsing it well, will remove the upper layer or covering of Quinoa which has saponins in it. This also activates enzymes which makes it easily digestible and speeds its cooking too. 
  2. Meanwhile, it also removes the bitter-tasting saponins, which are naturally given by nature to protect them from predators and pests. 
  3. You can use a mesh strainer to remove all its bitterness by washing once or twice after soaking. 
  4. To cook 1 cup of quinoa, use 1 3/4 amount of water. Also, put 2 teaspoons of clarified butter or ghee in the pot while cooking. It will keep it fluffy and non-sticky. 
  5. If you want to use it as a side dish, then you can add broth instead of water and some whole spices like mace, cinnamon, and bay leaf in the pot while cooking. It will give a very nice aroma and flavor.
  6. You can also cook quinoa in the rice cooker or pressure cooking, using the same consistency. 
  7. After cooking, quinoa will double or triple its volume. Suppose if you are cooking a cup of Quinoa it will become 2 or 3 cups of fluffy cooked Quinoa. 

Health benefits of Quinoa:

  1. Keeps you full for a long time
  2. Quinoa is rich in fibers and proteins. It also has very few calories in it. A cup of Quinoa yells about 2-3 cups of cooked Quinoa. The same happens when you eat it. After eating Quinoa it gives you the feeling of fullness. So it is best for those willing for weight loss. 
  3. Gluten-free thing

Many people have a sensitivity to gluten. Gluten is a glue-like protein found in white flours and other refinery things. Experts say,  gluten is not healthy for humans and may cause diseases like cardiac problems hemorrhages blood pressure, and many more. 

Organic Quinoa is free from gluten or any other harmful substances. Thus a healthy option for gluten sensitive peoples. 

High in protein with all the amino acids:

Do you know there are 9 types of Amino acids that are must for a healthy body? To complete this requirement, we go for many things like lean meat, pulses, amaranth, whole grains, and many more. Togetherly, all of the amino acids are not present in any of the grains. Somehow Quinoa has all the essential 9 amino acids in it. 

So if you are taking Quinoa you are taking wholesome protein in a vegan diet itself.

Keeps Blood sugar levels regulated:

Due to its high nutritive levels, Quinoa is also called ‘Mother of all grains’. It is rich in dietary fibers thus a good thing for those suffering from diabetes. Also, Quinoa has a low glycemic index, thus helps to manage and avoid diabetes. Quinoa is also free from complex carbohydrates, thus helps to lower down blood sugar and keep it on the bay. 

High in fiber as compared to other grains:

Quinoa is called ‘Mother of the Grains’. However, biologically it is a seed but is used and considered as a grain. It has lots of dietary fibers in it as compared to any other whole grains. So if you are having problems to digest grains, then opt for Quinoa as a substitute. 

Keeps you skin and hair naturally healthy:

Quinoa is highly rich in Vitamin E. It also builds collagen proteins in your body that help to improve elasticity and fight signs of ageing. Regular consumption of it helps to protect your skin from sun rays damage, free radicals and also improves the skin and hair texture. 

Overall it maintains the inner health of the body, giving you a natural glow and shine. 

Good for Heart health:

The heart is the most important organ of our body. It works continuously without any break till you are alive. You can thank and gift your heart with the addition of Quinoa to your diet! It will regulate the flow of blood, thus avoiding many other problems like blood pressure, cardiac arrest, and many more.

Keeps Constipation at bay:

If anyone is suffering from bowel problems then Quinoa is a magical food for them. It has double the fibers than any other grain thus regulates bowel movements. It helps to keep your stomach strong and also aids in problems related to IBS or intestinal disorders. 

You can buy Quinoa from here.

How many of you are hypnotized by knowing about the benefits of Quinoa? Isn’t it a superfood! Include this in your diet and give a kickstart to a healthy body and a healthy life. 

Hope we answered almost all the questions related to Quinoa. If we missed something or something is still confusing you about it, then do comment and let us know. We will be glad to answer your queries. Take care and live well! 

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