Quinoa – Pronounced Kee No Wah
Quinoa, originally from South America, is an ancient grain-like crop that has been part of the human diet for thousands of years. In the recent years quinoa has received a lot of press from healthy living advocates in North America and for good reason too! Here are some basic facts about this super food which make it a desirable, healthy option for you:
A Complete Source of Protein
Quinoa has all the essential amino acids necessary for a healthy diet and is therefore a complete plant source of protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and proteins, in turn, make up everything within our body from hormones to white blood cells to muscles. Plant sources of protein are especially wonderful as they are alkalinizing which means that they help reduce risks of a variety of health concerns such as bone loss and cardiovascular disease. Finally, they are also rich in vitamins and minerals that help repair and enhance the body!
Gluten Free Option
Quinoa is naturally gluten free! In recent years, it seems that more and more of us have become either sensitive to gluten or allergic to it! Many people who are sensitive to gluten suffer from bloating, indigestion, discomfort after meals, fatigue and other intestinal issues. If this sounds like you, it would be a great idea to consult a nutritionist about reducing your gluten!
In more severe cases of allergy, like in Celiac disease, the body’s immune system attacks its own intestinal lining in a quest to rid the body of gluten, sometimes causing irreversible damage and seriously impeding the body’s ability to absorb useful nutrients. Currently, 1 in 133 Canadians are diagnosed with Celiac disease and the number is increasing. This is why quinoa is an excellent alternative to wheat and other related grains that have gluten.! Even for those of us who do not have gluten sensitivity, it is a great idea to diversify our diets to include other healthful options. Variety, after all, is the spice of life!
High Nutrient Profile
Quinoa is a very rich source of phytonutrients and therefore it has a high antioxidant score. This means that it has an anti-inflammatory effect within the body. Excess inflammation is the underlying cause of many chronic diseases within the body such as arthritis, eczema and irritable bowel syndrome and it is believed to be the precursor to illnesses such diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Luckily we can use foods like wholesome medicines and choose a diet that helps bring down inflammation within the body. Quinoa is such a food that helps decrease inflammation and promotes health and longevity.
Quinoa also has a great ratio of nutrients per calorie which means that you won’t be eating empty calories and that each calorie in quinoa is enriched with nutritious goodness. For example, a cup of cooked quinoa provides you with more than 8 grams of protein. It also has 5 grams of fiber and is a good source of iron, not to mention calcium, potassium and zinc!
Versatile and Delicious
Quinoa is great in soups, can be used in veggie burgers, is a great side dish, goes wonderfully in omelettes or and delicious in salads. It also easily absorbs other flavors and has a wonderfully satisfying texture.
Now that you know how wonderful quinoa is for you, all that is left to give it try!
Afrousheh Amini, Certified Nutritional Practitioner