Quinoa or Chenopodium quinoa Willd is a gluten-free, faux grain that has gained significant popularity over the last few years. This ancient grain has been available for 5000-years and in available in just about any color but is most seen in its white form.
You probably heard about this popular grain on social media in regards to being a “superfood” or extremely healthy food. Buts, what’s really the hype about quinoa? What is so special about it? What should you know before getting this at the supermarket? Let’s take a look at the science and nutrition behind this ancient grain.
- Contains all nine essential amino acids:
This imitation grain contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein (one of the best to consume). It’s like having chicken but more nutritious and in form of a plant.
- Contains less carbohydrates than rice:
In addition to protein, it contains a reduced amount of carbohydrates and is high in fiber, vitamins (including B vitamins) and is rich in vital minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium.
- Contains plant-fighting compounds called quercetin, a powerful antioxidant:
In addition to this, Quinoa is also rich in indispensable fatty acids and antioxidants. Quercetin, a powerful antioxidant found in quinoa has been shown to have anti-viral and anti-cancer properties.
- It is a naturally gluten- free grain:
For people that need to follow a gluten free diet due to Celiac disease of gluten sensitivity, quinoa is free of gluten.
Due to its gluten-free quality quinoa can be eaten by those with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerances or sensitivities. Its essential fatty acid and antioxidant component can also be linked to its positive effect on heart health, immune health, diabetes, and overall improvement of cell function.
The Bottom Line
Quinoa is a nutrient rich functional food. It is free from gluten and is multifunctional. You can incorporate quinoa into your salads, as a stand-alone grain or pair it with your favorite veggie, chicken, meat, or fish recipes.
Written by: Hillaris Pozo, Dietetic Intern, Lehman College
Reviewed by: Nazirber Maduro, RDN, CDN CDCES