Quinoa is an ancient, plant-based seed that has been cultivated in the Andes for 7000 years. It is a pseudo-cereal that cooks and eats like a grain but is actually a seed and offers a host of health benefits.
- It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. One cup of cooked quinoa offers 8 grams of protein. The only other plant-based food that is a complete protein is soy.
- It is high in fiber, much more than most grains. You get 5 grams of fiber in a cup of cooked quinoa, vs 2 grams in a slice of whole wheat bread. This is necessary for digestive and gut health, weight control, and for lowering your risk of cancer.
- A good source for getting iron in a plant-based diet. It has 3 mg of iron per cup, and you need between 8 and 18 mg per day, depending on your age and sex.
- It is highly nutritious. It contains nutrients including vitamins B6 and E, manganese, zinc, iron, potassium copper, and folate. It’s an especially good source of magnesium and riboflavin.
- It’s gluten free.
- It’s high in antioxidants, including the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol. Antioxidants help slow aging and have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and anti-depressant effects.
- Good for blood sugar control. Besides being high in fiber, it’s a low glycemic index food, both of which help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
- It is good for heart health because it’s high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants as well as fiber to help lower cholesterol.
- It’s delicious and can be substituted for rice, pasta, breakfast cereal or used in salads and soups. It is versatile and can eaten plain or combined with herbs, spices, beans, or veggies of your choice. It can also be ground into flour and used for baking. Before using, you should rinse the quinoa because it has a coating called saponin which can taste bitter.