Quinoa – The Ancient Superfood with Remarkable Health Benefits
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is an ancient superfood that is not well-known to most North Americans. It was discovered 3,000 years ago by the South American Incas and dubbed “mother of all grains.” Now, quinoa is gaining global recognition for its remarkable health benefits and excellent nutrition.
Although Quinoa is often mistaken for a grain, it actually belongs to the same family as chard, beets, and spinach. Dieticians classify it as a ‘pseudo-cereal’ because it can be rolled into flour and used for baking. Unlike oats or wheat, however, quinoa isn’t a grass.
Quinoa is Actually a Seed
Quinoa is the seed of the Chenopodium plant. This name is derived from the Greek words chen (meaning goose) and pous (meaning foot). Some refer to this plant as Goosefoot for this reason. Quinoa grains range in color from almost black to light ivory. With over 120 species of Chenopodium, there are forms of it that are pink, brown, and red. The grain of Quinoa itself is soft and subtle while the spiral tail is crunchy.
Quinoa is Nutritiously Beneficial
So what is it about the superfood Quinoa that makes it so nutritiously beneficial? For one, it is rich in protein, a necessary nutrient for muscle building and maintenance. The protein Quinoa contains is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. Another benefit of Quinoa is an excellent source of vitamin B, iron, magnesium, and calcium. These vitamins and minerals are necessary for blood health, cognition and memory, and energy. Many love Quinoa because it is low in calories, cholesterol, and fat. Vegans choose this superfood as a substitute for meat because it is rich in the same substances as meat. An added benefit is that Quinoa contains high concentrations of antioxidants, particularly kaempferol and quercetin. Finally, Quinoa is a terrific source of fiber. Fiber promotes colon health and helps eliminate waste products from the body, including excess cholesterol.
Quinoa is Versatile
One of the best things about Quinoa is its versatility when it comes to cooking. You can eat it for breakfast or as a side dish for lunch and dinner. Many even use Quinoa in desserts. This superfood can be boiled or baked in less than 15 minutes. It is a superb addition to hot casseroles, soups, stir-fries, salads, or stews. To give it a toasted flavor, try dry roasting Quinoa in the oven or a pan before cooking it. Quinoa can also be cooked in fruit juice for additional flavor and zest.
This superfood is so exciting, it has been given its own year-long celebration. The Food and Agricultural Oranization of the United Nations (FAO) official declared 2013 to be recognized as the “International Year of the Quinoa”. You can find this superfood in grocery stores and health food markets.
- Food.com (2012). Food directory: Quinoa. Retrieved on November 20, 2012
- Railey, K. (2012). Quinoa from the Andes. Retrieved on November 20, 2012
Last Reviewed 11/Mar/2014