What you need to know about quinoa
Quinoa is a cereal that originates from the Andes region of South America. There are three types: red, white and black, and all three are exceptional in their nutritional properties and health benefits.
Quinoa is a cereal, although botanically it is not a cereal. In fact, it is the seed of a plant whose Latin name is Chenopodium quinoa, and whose "relatives" are beets and spinach. It does not contain gluten, so people who suffer from celiac disease can use it freely.
Why it is one of the top foods
Quinoa is an excellent source of essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, copper, selenium and most B vitamins. One cup of quinoa contains as much as 30% of the recommended dose of magnesium, which is especially lacking in people who eat in the typical Western way.
Quinoa is easy to cook - 10-20 minutes is enough. When cooked, it resembles rice in consistency, has a pleasant, nutty taste and goes well with cooked dishes, appetizers and salads.
In light of the latest findings, many today are trying to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet, or to eliminate it completely. Quinoa is a real hit for them, because it does not contain gluten and can be eaten by people with celiac disease without any problems. And unlike processed, industrially produced gluten-free foods, quinoa is a natural, whole food with many other good properties.
A complete source of protein
One of the characteristics of quinoa that is especially important for vegetarians and vegans is that it contains a large amount of protein. A cup of cooked quinoa contains about 16% of the recommended daily protein intake. And more importantly, these proteins contain all eight essential amino acids (which the body does not synthesize, but must be taken in through diet), which makes quinoa a rare plant source that is complete in this regard. According to recent research, plant proteins are healthier than proteins of animal origin, and they are needed by the body for cell growth and recovery, energy conversion and more.
Good for joints
Quinoa is especially rich in the amino acid lysine, and recent studies have shown that consuming foods rich in the amino acid lysine can help a lot in cartilage renewal, because lysine participates in the renewal of collagen, which is the main component of cartilage.
It is rich in plant fibers
A cup of cooked quinoa contains 21% of the recommended daily intake of plant fiber, which is twice as much as other cereals. Most of the fibers contained in quinoa are insoluble, so they have a laxative effect. The smaller amount of soluble fiber it contains in the stomach creates a gel that slows down digestion, which gives a feeling of fullness, and also contributes to lowering "bad" cholesterol in the blood. Thanks to these fibers, quinoa has a relatively low glycemic index, 54, which makes it suitable for diabetics as well.
It is rich in antioxidants
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, which compared 10 cereals and legumes that thrive in the Andes, showed that quinoa contains the most antioxidants. A later study showed that sprouted quinoa has even more antioxidants. Foods rich in antioxidants are known to slow down the aging process and help prevent degenerative diseases such as cancer, arthritis, macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease.
Rich in quercetin and kaempferol
Quinoa is an excellent source of two flavonoids - quercetin and kaempferol, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. One study, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, even showed that flavonoids also have antidepressant properties, which makes quinoa an important food for people suffering from anxiety, depression and other forms of depression.
Suitable for stress recovery
Quinoa is one of the foods that is especially recommended by nutritionists, holistic counselors and wellness trainers during stressful periods in our lives. Namely, rich in light and high-quality proteins, quinoa also contains magnesium, which is easily absorbed, and which relaxes blood vessels, improves the conduction of nerve impulses and keeps cortisol (stress hormone) levels under control.
How to prepare
Quinoa cooks very quickly, even in an incredible 12 to 15 minutes, which at today's pace of life makes it the perfect friend of every housewife. Quinoa is treated like rice when cooked. It is usually cooked and served as a main dish or as a side dish. You can make delicious vegetarian burgers from quinoa, it can also be added to salads, which is an indispensable part of the menu of most restaurants today. Quinoa seeds can also be ground and used to prepare flour, so you can easily get exotic gluten-free flour. Quinoa can also be used as baby food. Interesting information is that 2013 was declared the "International Year of Cinema" by the United Nations because of its potential to contribute to food safety in the world. Although quinoa is not technically a grain, it is still considered a "whole grain" food.