Quinoa is one of the world's most popular health foods.
Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
Here are 10 health benefits of quinoa:
1. Very Nutritious
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Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds. It’s pronounced KEEN-wah.
It technically isn't a cereal grain, but a pseudo-cereal (1Trusted Source).
In other words, it is basically a seed, which is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain.
There are three main types: white, red and black.
This is the nutrient content in 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa (2):
Protein: 8 grams.
Fiber: 5 grams.
Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
Folate: 19% of the RDA.
Copper: 18% of the RDA.
Iron: 15% of the RDA.
Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
Potassium 9% of the RDA.
Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.
2. Contains the Plant Compounds Quercetin and Kaempferol
Quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol. These are potent plant antioxidants with numerous health benefits.
3. Very High in Fiber, Much Higher Than Most Grains
Quinoa is much higher in fiber than most grains. One study found 17–27 grams of fiber per cup (185 grams). Most of the fiber is insoluble, but one cup of quinoa still contains 2.5 grams of insoluble fiber.
4. Gluten-Free and Perfect for People With Gluten Intolerance
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free. Using it instead of typical gluten-free ingredients can increase the antioxidant and nutrient value of your diet when you’re avoiding gluten.
5. Very High in Protein, With All the Essential Amino Acids
Quinoa is high in protein compared to most plant foods. It also contains all the essential amino acids that you need, making it an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
6. Has a Low Glycemic Index, Which is Good for Blood Sugar Control
The glycemic index of quinoa is around 53, which is considered low. However, it’s still relatively high in carbs.
7. High in Important Minerals Like Iron and Magnesium
Quinoa is very high in minerals, but its phytic acid can partly prevent them from being absorbed. Soaking or sprouting degrades most of the phytic acid.
8. Has Beneficial Effects on Metabolic Health
Two studies, in humans and rats respectively, show that quinoa can improve metabolic health, by reducing blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels. However, more research is needed.
9. Very High in Antioxidants
Quinoa appears to be very high in antioxidants. Sprouting increases their antioxidant levels even further.
10. May Help You Lose Weight
Quinoa is high in fiber, protein and has a low glycemic index. These properties have all been linked to weight loss and improved health.