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The World’s Healthiest Food and Why You Should Eat More of It
Maybe you haven’t tried it or perhaps you’ve heard of it, but you think it’s too much trouble to make it. Did you know that even the United Nations appears to love quinoa? They even named 2013 the International Year of Quinoa! This magic grain was once the staple food of the Andean people even before the Incas, so it holds all the power of the ancients in its history. This is one super nutritious grain that has amazing health benefits.
In ancient times, people roasted quinoa and made it into flour so that it could be used in traditional breads. Today, quinoa is used in numerous ways, including soup, salads, cereals, made into pasta, and much more.
This super food is still highly prized and is now shipped around the world. Technically, it’s not a cereal grain, but a seed. However, it can be easily prepared and is eaten similar to grains. Pronounced Keen-wah, it has been consumed for literally thousands of years but only recently has it reached its current “superfood” status.
Keep reading and discover everything there is to know about this fabulous grain and why it is considered by many to be the world’s healthiest food.
1. Weight Loss Friendly
Losing weight is as simple as taking in fewer calories than you burn. Certain foods can help you burn more calories by improving your metabolism (therefore, helping you burn more calories) or by reducing your appetite (lowering the amount of calories consumed). Quinoa is high in protein, which can do both! The high amount of fiber in quinoa can make you feel fuller, which will make you stop eating sooner, consuming fewer calories. It also has a low glycemic index, which has been shown in studies to help lower the amount of calories that are consumed. Although there are no scientific studies specifically regarding the consumption of quinoa and weight loss, it is known that high fiber, high protein diets can help people lose weight.
2. Unbelievably Nutritious
The Inca called quinoa “the mother of all grains” and believed that it was sacred, a food left by the gods for human consumption and survival. Well, when you consider the amount of nutrition in this little grain, it’s no wonder! One little cup (8 ounces) of cooked quinoa, which is equal to about 185 grams, has 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 58 percent of your daily requirement of manganese, 30 percent of your requirement of magnesium, 28 percent phosphorus, 19 percent of folates, and 15 percent of iron!
It contains small amounts of other minerals and nutrients including potassium, copper, and calcium, vitamin E, and the B vitamins. In fact, quinoa is so nutritionally complete that even NASA scientists have been thinking about using this food as a crop that could be grown in outer space.
3. Packed with Powerful Antioxidants
Why are antioxidants so important? These compounds neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are known to cause disease, chronic illnesses, and premature aging. Just how many antioxidants are in quinoa? One study looked at 10 different foods: 5 cereals, 3 pseudo-cereals (such as quinoa), and 2 legumes.
Quinoa had the highest antioxidant level of all the tested foods, hands down. Another study showed that allowing the seeds to sprout increased their antioxidant levels even higher. Studies show that those who consume diets high in antioxidant rich foods have lower levels of disease and live longer, healthier lives.
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4. Contains Powerful Bioactive Compounds
If you think foods are all about their vitamin and mineral content, you don’t know half of the story! The health effects of organic, natural whole foods include trace nutrients and other types of compounds that do so much more for our health than we ever realize. There are some fascinating compounds called flavonoids, which are antioxidants in plants that have been proven to have super beneficial effects on our health. Two of these flavonoids in particular, kaempferol and quercetin, have been well studied and are known to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer effects. Both of these flavonoids are found in super high amounts in quinoa. So adding quinoa to your diet will give your body significantly more of these powerful and important bioactive substances.
5. High in Minerals Most People are Deficient In
Our modern day diets leave us lacking in many important nutrients. Even natural foods are low in common minerals due to the depletion of our soils. Most people are deficient in some very common minerals including zinc, potassium, magnesium, and iron. The good news here is that quinoa is rich in all four of these minerals.
In fact, quinoa is particularly high in magnesium, with one cup having about 30 percent of your recommended daily intake. Quinoa also contains a compound called phytic acid, which binds minerals together, making it a bit harder for the body to absorb them. You can get around this problem, however, by soaking the grains before cooking. This will reduce the phytic acid in the quinoa.
6. Higher in Fiber than Most Other Grains
Quinoa is high in fiber, which is important because studies show that people who consume high fiber diets have much lower rates of stomach and colorectal cancer. Quinoa has between 17 and 27 grams of fiber per cup, which is twice as high as most grains. What’s the reason for the difference? It’s all a matter of the way it’s consumed. Boiled quinoa has much less fiber. Soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels, increase feelings of fullness which can help you lose weight and it lowers blood sugar levels.
7. Quinoa is a Complete Source of Protein
You have probably heard the term “essential amino acid” before. They are called essential because although our bodies need them. We cannot make them on our own and therefore must get them from the foods we eat. If a food contains all of the essential amino acids, then it is referred to as a complete protein. Quinoa is a complete source of protein because it not only contains all essential amino acids, but because it has very high amounts of them. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of complete protein. This is especially important for those eating a vegan diet.
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8. Low Glycemic Index
When people talk about the glycemic index of foods, they are referring to how quickly a food will raise blood sugar levels in the body. Foods that are high on the glycemic index are known to stimulate the appetite and even be a contributing factor towards obesity. In fact, high glycemic foods have been linked to many chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Quinoa is low of the glycemic index with a rating of 53. Quinoa is still fairly high in carbohydrates, so you do need to consume this food in moderation.
9. Gluten Free
According to a recent survey, about 35 percent of the people in the US are trying to avoid or minimize their gluten intake. A gluten free diet can be healthy, as long as it is based on foods that are naturally gluten free, rather than the consumption of processed foods that use fillers, such as refined starches, as a substitute for gluten. This only makes them junk food and it doesn’t matter if it’s regular junk food or gluten free junk food, it’s still, well, let’s be honest, crap. Quinoa is the perfect ingredient for those looking for a gluten free diet. Using quinoa instead of refined potato, corn, or rice flour can dramatically increase the nutritional value of the foods you eat, while avoiding gluten at the same time.
10. Improves Overall Metabolic Health
Since quinoa has so many beneficial nutrients, consuming quinoa could lead to improvements in your metabolic health. One study found that consuming quinoa rather than the typical gluten free pastas and breads significantly reduced blood sugar, triglyceride levels, and insulin levels in humans. Another study involved rats and it found that when quinoa was added to their normal high fructose diet, that the quinoa seemed to completely inhibit the negative health effects of the fructose.
One of the great things about quinoa is that it tastes so good, goes well with many foods, and is super easy to add to any diet.
Always rinse or soak your quinoa with fresh water to get rid of the saponins which can add a bitter flavor to your quinoa. Quinoa is as easy to make as rice and you can use it in place of rice in almost any dish.
What are you waiting for?? Get some quinoa and start adding some to your diet today!