Quinoa benefits have become very popular today. Fitness specialists, nutritionists, vegans, vegetarians, general practitioners and even NASA speak highly of this cereal. If you have heard a lot about quinoa, but do not know what its benefits are for the body. Here we will tell you everything you should know about it, so that you consider incorporating it into your diet. Read to the end!
Quinoa has several different ways to call it, it is a pseudo cereal. Because although it does have some similarities to cereals. From the botanical point of view, they are not the same. Cereal plants, in general, have long and thin leaves that become ears that give the grains. Like rice, wheat or oats. In contrast, pseudo cereals are broad-leaved plants that bear small fruits (seeds), such as quinoa.
What is the origin of quinoa?
It is a plant from the Andes that originated around Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. Quinoa was cultivated and used by pre-Hispanic civilizations. This was replaced by cereals when the Spanish arrived. Although it was a staple food for the population at the time.
According to historical evidence, it is established that its domestic use by the native peoples of America dates back to 3,000 and 5,000 years before Christ. There are archaeological finds of quinoa in tombs of Tarapaca, Calama and Arica, in Chile, and in different regions of Peru. At the arrival of the Spanish, quinoa had a convenient development and a wide distribution in the Inca territory and outside it.
What are the benefits of quinoa?
Well, this pseudo cereal is highly recognized for its properties. NASA chose it as the ideal food for astronauts on long-duration missions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “quinoa is a super food in more ways than one. It is a good source of protein (…) and its edible seeds provide all the essential amino acids that the human body needs.” Let’s look at other great benefits of quinoa.
It has more protein than other cereal
Every 100 grams of quinoa contains between 12 to 16 grams of protein. Furthermore, these vegetable proteins are considered of high biological value, because they contain all the essential amino acids for humans in the proper proportions.
It is an excellent option for diabetics
This is because it is a whole grain. Which is one of the key foods in the diabetic healthy diet. Along with fruits, vegetables, protein and unsaturated fats. But, the most important thing for diabetics is that, one of the benefits of quinoa is that it has a low glycaemic index. Therefore, it will not cause blood sugar levels to rise.
It is also a great source of fibre that has no impact on blood sugar levels. It also helps maintain body weight, thus preventing other serious conditions related to diabetes.
Contains complex carbohydrates
These are more satiating and maintain energy levels for longer than simple ones. In addition, they break down more slowly and allow the sugar level to gradually increase. In this way, those spikes in blood sugar levels caused by consuming simple carbohydrates, such as refined flour and white rice, are avoided.
It has good fats
But it contains more fat compared to other cereals. Because it has a germ that accumulates nutrients such as folic acid, choline, essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Despite this, quinoa is not some food rich in fats. In addition, the fats it has are of good quality and polyunsaturated, such as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Control cholesterol levels
Thanks to its fibre and unsaturated fat content, quinoa helps control cholesterol levels in the blood, favouring the lipid profile in the body. The omega 3 present in quinoa contributes to maintaining normal cholesterol levels.
It is a food for athletes
Quinoa is a food widely used by athletes as an energy source. Since it contains minerals, complex carbohydrates and a lot of protein. Nutritionist Barbara Lewin explains that thanks to having almost twice as much as other cereals, it is one of the few foods that contains the essential amino acids that the body needs to build muscles and recover from hard workouts.
Ideal for celiac people
Thanks to the fact that it does not contain gluten, it is highly recommended for celiac people or for those who must maintain a diet without this protein. The best thing is that quinoa is naturally gluten-free. Because of this, it is healthier than other synthetically made gluten-free foods.
Provides good quality energy
Among the benefits of quinoa is that it is a good source of energy, ideal for sports. Due to its starch, it supplies progressive muscular energy in resistance exercises, a virtue that its branched-chain amino acids enhance. In addition, its proteins ensure muscle repair and development in strength sports.
Greater mental performance is achieved
The constant supply of energy to the nervous system promotes mental performance. Also phenylalanine, which is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters that promote alertness and brain function. Added to this are glutamic acid, magnesium, iron and phosphorus.
How is quinoa prepared?
Well, since we know what the benefits of quinoa are, let’s talk about its preparation. As with any grain, a base formula is applied: two measures of water for one measure of grains. Two cups of water are brought to the fire, when boiling, one cup of quinoa is added. Cook covered over medium-low heat until all the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave them covered for 15 more minutes.
The most important thing is to add the quinoa as soon as it starts to boil. Take care of the cooking until the grains are transparent. In the same way, it is necessary to make sure that the quinoa is very cooked because otherwise, it can cause indigestion. But, watch out! Nor can it be boiled excessively because it loses its great properties.
What can I combine quinoa with?
Thanks to its ability to absorb flavours, it can be combined with many spices. But yes, being careful not to overdo it. It also combines very well with ingredients like pumpkin and carrot for its sweet flavour. Likewise, it is ideal to combine with chard and spinach in delicious and nutritious salads.
A little trick
When preparing quinoa, it is likely to acquire a bitter touch. This is because it contains saponins, a group of oily glycosides that coat the seeds. These make washing the quinoa or chickpeas frothy.
These saponins usually provide a bitter flavour and can decrease the nutritional value of the seeds. Despite the fact that quinoa goes through a washing process to eliminate saponins, they retain an amount that, although it is no longer indigestible, can give a bitter touch to the preparations.
A very simple trick to correct this is to rinse the quinoa seeds thoroughly under running water before cooking and rub them with your hands to remove the substance. It is important not to leave them to soak for a long time, because instead of leaving, the saponins adhere and cannot be eliminated.
In conclusion, the benefits of quinoa make this superfood one of the best alternatives to replace conventional cereals. It is important to incorporate other options into our diet that help us enrich it. Do not think twice and make quinoa one of your favourite food ingredients.
This article is informative and is not intended to serve as a diagnosis, prescription or treatment of any type of ailment. This information is not a substitute for consulting a doctor, specialist or health professional.