Quinoa Health Benefits

Latin Name : Chenopodium quinoa

It is also called the goosefoot plant.

Quinoa is a seed but also a grain like pseudo cereal that is eaten. Since it does not belong to the grass family to which cereals belong it is a pseudo cereal. It is related to beets, spinach, swiss chard and tumbleweeds.

A native to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Equador and Columbia. its cultivation goes back 3000 to 4000 years in time. However it has been growing in the wild for as long back as 5000 to 7000 years as per archeological evidences.
Peru and Bolivia produce almost 99% of the world's quinoa production between them.


Source

Quinoa Plants

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Quinoa leavesQuinoa cultivation in BoliviaQuinoa cultivation in Peru
Quinoa leaves
Quinoa leaves | Source
Quinoa cultivation in Bolivia
Quinoa cultivation in Bolivia | Source
Quinoa cultivation in Peru
Quinoa cultivation in Peru | Source

Quinoa Plant

The plant is about 1-2 metres in height. It can grow in a variety of climatic conditions. The flowers are small and form a cluster. The leaves contain betacyanin pigments and for this reason they are seen in various colors like bright red, orange, pink, purple, tan and black. The leaves taste much like other members of the chenopod family, beet, spinach and chard.

The cooked seeds are creamy and fluffy in texture and crunchy. Also the seeds become translucent when cooked. They have a slight nutty flavor.

The entire plant is edible right from the leaves to the stem and seeds. The outer coating of the seeds contain the chemical saponin which is bitter and protects the seeds from wild birds eating them.

When the seeds are to be consumed they are washed well in water to remove the saponin which forms soap like suds. Commercially processed quinoa has been washed usually.

Quinoa can be cooked just like rice. It can also be used as a breakfast cereal, mixed with an assortment of berries, nuts and some honey. It can be also be used like cornflakes.
The seeds can be made into a flour and used much like wheat flour with the added advantage of it being free from gluten and can thus replace wheat flour.
The seeds can also be germinated and eaten or they can be cooked with a variety of other vegetables and consumed.

The leaves and stems can be cooked and eaten just like spinach and beets.

Quinoa

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Quinoa pre flowering stageQuinoa flowering stage
Quinoa pre flowering stage
Quinoa pre flowering stage | Source
Quinoa flowering stage
Quinoa flowering stage | Source

Quinoa Nutritional Benefits

Quinoa has a lot of nutritional benefits as it is a food with a high nutritive value. The antioxidant phytonutrients quercetin and kaempferol are found in very concentrated amounts in quinoa.

The protein content in quinoa is almost the same as wheat; however quinoa scores in its protein profile, in that, it has all 9 essential amino acids, thus being termed as a source of complete protein.

Quinoa contains excellent amounts of dietary fiber and phosphorus. It has very good amounts of magnesium, folate, copper and iron. It is also a good source of calcium having almost twice as much of it than in wheat. Thus making it ideal for those who are lactose intolerant but need calcium.

It is also easy to digest and is gluten free. Because of the bitter saponin in the seeds' outer coat they are processed to remove this before packing.

The leaves contain the pigment betanin.

Colored Quinoa Grains

Grain color variation in Quinoa, INIA Genebank, Peru
Grain color variation in Quinoa, INIA Genebank, Peru | Source

Nutritional Value Of Quinoa

(click column header to sort results)
   
   
Nutritional value
per 100g (3.5oz)
Energy
1,539kJ (368kcal)
Carbohydrates
64 g
Starch
52 g
Dietary fibre
7 g
Fat
6 g
polyunsaturated
3.3 g
Protein
14 g
Tryptophan
0.167 g
Threonine
0.421 g
Isoleucine
0.504 g
Leucine
0.840 g
Lysine
0.766 g
Methionine
0.309 g
Cystine
0.203 g
Phenylalanine
0.593 g
Tyrosine
0.267 g
Valine
0.594 g
Arginine
1.091 g
Histidine
0.407 g
Alanine
0.588 g
Aspartic acid
1.134 g
Glutamic acid
1.865 g
Glycine
0.694 g
Proline
0.773 g
Serine
0.567 g
Water
13 g
Thiamine (vit. B1)
0.36 mg (31%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)
0.32 mg (27%)
Vitamin B6
0.5 mg (38%)
Folate(vit. B9)
184 ?g (46%)
Iron
4.6 mg (35%)
Magnesium
197 mg (55%)
Phosphorus
457 mg (65%)
Potassium
563 mg (12%)
Zinc
3.1 mg (33%)
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Stuffed mushrooms with spiced quinoaQuinoa soup
Stuffed mushrooms with spiced quinoa
Stuffed mushrooms with spiced quinoa | Source
Quinoa soup
Quinoa soup | Source

Quinoa Health Benefits

Quinoa has various health benefits due to the following nutrients :

  • Different types of tocoferols, like, alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocoferols. These are absent in other grains
  • Anti inflammatory phytonutrients, the polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans, the hydroxycinnamic acid and hydroxybenzoic acid.
  • Flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol.
  • Some omega 3 fatty acids and alpha linoleic acid (ALA).
  • Oleic acid, a mono unsaturated fat. The fat content is very high compared to most grains. Oleic acid makes up almost 25% of the total fatty acids while ALA makes up about 8%.
  • A complete protein source with very good amounts of lysine and isoleucine, the 2 amino acids normally deficient in most grains.
  • Inspite of it being high in fat content than cereals like wheat, it is not easily oxidized due to the wide and diverse types of anti oxidants.
  • Boiling, steaming and simmering does not affect the nutritional quality much.

Quinoa Health Benefits In Specific Diseases And Health Conditions

Quinoa For Diabetes

Quinoa is a good source of dietary fiber and fiber is known to regulate blood sugar.
The excellent protein profile also regulates blood sugar.
The anti inflammatory nutrients also reduce diabetes risk.

Quinoa And Cardiovascular Disease

Quinoa lowers total cholesterol and keeps the HDL levels high.
The anti inflammatory factors protect the blood vessels from damage due to inflammation.
Anti inflammatory benefits are supposed to extend to preventing atherosclerosis too.
The magnesium reduces blood pressure and regulates heartbeat.

Quinoa Weight Loss

Quinoa has a low Glycemic Index thereby regulating blood sugar or keeping the blood sugar from spiking and crashing. This makes for keeping one fuller.
The seeds take time to digest fully and prevent hunger.
The protein and dietary fiber also keep one fuller longer preventing hunger.
Also, the dietary fiber binds to fat and cholesterol reducing absorption of these by the body.

Quinoa And Migraine

Quinoa is high in magnesium and riboflavin.
Magnesium prevents contraction of the blood vessels and consequently relieves migraine.
Riboflavin benefits the brain and muscle cells' metabolism and helps in reducing migraine attacks.

Quinoa Fiber

Quinoa contains almost 12% fiber of which about 36% is soluble and 64% is insoluble.
The soluble fiber forms a gel that binds the fat and cholesterol.
The insoluble fiber isn't absorbed and helps in making the bowel movements easier and regular thus keeping it clear of digested food.

Quinoa Allergy

As quinoa is gluten free, it can become a healthy option for wheat as a grain. Moreover it is highly digestible and can therefore be included in the diets of toddlers and children.
Quinoa reduces the risk of allergy in those who are sensitive to certain grains.

Allergy To Quinoa

Though Quinoa is not a high allergy causing food, some people may be allergic to it. Some of the symptoms associated with this allergy may be :

  • Skin allergies like itching, swelling, hives, rashes etc or a general inflammation of skin.
  • Abdominal complaints like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps etc.
  • Respiratory symptoms like sneezing, coughing, breathing difficulty, tightness of the chest etc.
  • Congestion and sinus headches, sinus pressure etc.

Avoid consumption of Quinoa immediately, if you experience allergic symptoms and get medical treatment.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Quinoa 101

Quinoa Salad Recipe

Quinoa Soup

Quinoa Protein Bars

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly

More by this Author


Comments 48 comments

eHealer profile image

eHealer 4 years ago from Las Vegas

Quinoa is a super food! Great hub Rajan, you are an amazing hubber. Excellent information and extensive as usual. I am going to try it. I'll start with the side dish you have linked. Great and voted up and shared!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Deborah,

Thanks you were pretty fast on this one. Appreciate the read and comments. Thanks for sharing.


Written Up profile image

Written Up 4 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

Packed full of information and very useful! Thanks for the great hub! I'm ready to try some new quinoa recipes.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Written Up,

I'm glad you like the presented information. I'd like to read how you find the recipes.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


JCielo profile image

JCielo 4 years ago from England

Rajan, thanks for yet another extremely well-researched and information-packed hub. My wife and I have just started eating this superfood. Voted up and awesome.


Mrs Jil Manning profile image

Mrs Jil Manning 4 years ago from Sussex, England

great hub! I'm quite new to quinoa and this has given me such a good start! Thanks very much for this.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

We had quinoa for dinner last night. I try to make it fairly often. Now all this good information and we will have it more. It seems pretty versatile and I love the colors. As always you write a complete and interesting hub. I am going to bookmark this as a reminder how healthful it is. Great hub as always. Up, share and bookmark....


healthylife2 profile image

healthylife2 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

I've heard so much about quinoa but wasn't aware how many minerals it contained or that it it was a great source of calcium. I haven't tried it yet but am now motivated to do so. Voted up!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I don't know how you do it, Rajan! You come up with things I have never heard of, and then masterfully explain them so that I feel I've been eating them all my life. Great information....you are a fountain of health information, my number one source. Bravo!


denisemai profile image

denisemai 4 years ago from Idaho

Oh, how I love quinoa! I love it's texture and nutty flavor. I've used it in place of couscous for many recipes because it has more health benefits than little pastas. So glad to learn from you that it has a low glycemic index and can help me in my diet. And the migraine tip? Halleluja! Love to hear that tasty foods are healthy, too! Sharing this one.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Rajan, I've seen so many products that listed quinoa in their ingredients but never knew what exactly it was. Thank you for clearing it up and providing so much information on a very healthy plant/food.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I am so glad you wrote this hub as I have been wanted to learn more about quinoa and try some new recipes. You hub is excellent and very thorough. Thank you for all the great information.


SommerDalton profile image

SommerDalton 4 years ago

So useful, voted up and more!!!


rideinthesidecar2 profile image

rideinthesidecar2 4 years ago from Virginia Mountains

I have just in the last few months began eating and cooking Quinoa. It is delicious and I first just bought prepackaged dishes and have started to experiment with some of my own. It is tasty and extremely healthy! I can't wait to try some of your recipes here!! Thanks


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Rajan,

Well written hub on quinoa. I make it 'cause of the protein it consists of and usually sautee this with loads of vegetables and our indian spices.

Thanks and voted up as useful and sharing it across


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ JCielo - John, I'm glad you are aware of the health benefits of quinoa since you are interested in health related articles. Thanks for reading and appreciating.

@ Mrs Manning - glad to have your input. Thanks for reading.

@ Carol - Quinoa can be added to a variety of dishes to derive its health benefits. Thanks for visiting. Appreciate the reading, bookmarking and sharing.

@ healthylife - quinoa is a superfood with an abundance of nutrients. Glad this hub makes you want to try it out. Thanks for visiting.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Thanks rajan for this informative hub. I'm going to start eating more quinoa for it's great health benefits. Voted up and sharing!


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

I love Quinoa! My friend Greer got me hooked on this. Definitely a very interesting read, Rajan!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ billybuc - thanks for all the wonderful compliments. Glad you like my healthy food hubs. Thank you.

@ denise - nice to learn you found some useful information in here. Appreciate the visit and share.

@ TTombs - Thanks TT. Good to learn this hub provided you information you needed. Tanks for visiting.

@ Pamela - wonderful to know to found this informational. I hope you try these recipes too. Appreciate your sparing time to read and leave a comment. Thanks.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Thanks for this good reminder about quinoa and for thorough look at its benefits!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ SommerDalton - thank you.

@ rideinthesidecar - thanks and glad you liked the hub. I hope you give the recipes a shot. Thanks for visiting.

@ Ruchira - that's good to hear as the protein in quinoa is complete in terms of the amino acid profile. Thanks for reading, voting and sharing.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

never seen this amazing plant before rajan! thank you for letting me know!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks for visiting MyCee. Much appreciated.


petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Great food, just enjoyed some tasty quinoa last night for supper...


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks for your visit and feedback, petenali.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Thanks for another interesting and useful hub. Sounds good will have to see if we can get quinoa here just a matter of translating it into Latvian. Passing this on.


KellyMediaBest profile image

KellyMediaBest 4 years ago from Tampa, Florida

I've only recently started to see Quinoa popping up everywhere, and from this Hub I've realized that it may be as a reaction to the gluten-free craze that has taken over America. Quinoa seems to be the healthiest alternative to other wheat fibers, and can be used in endless ways from breakfast to lunch to dinner to snacks and desserts. Definitely going to have to try out some recipes that include quinoa.


manatita44 4 years ago

Superexcellent article. Will be of great help to others.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

It's easy enough for me to enjoy these health benefits since I love the stuff. Voting this Up and Useful. Shared.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Excellent hub about the health benefits of consuming quinoa in our diets. Thanks for including the link to my hub regarding Scrumptious Easy Quinoa Side Dish... Will add a link from this hub to mine. Up votes and sharing!


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hello Rajan! As always, excellent Hub and a great guide to Quinoa Health Benefits. Thank you. Voting up and sharing. I enjoy learning from your healthy choices.

JSMatthew~


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ Gypsy - I do hope you find it there. I'd love to know what it's called in Latvian. Thanks for reading and sharing.

@ Kelly - Quinoa has become popular because of the excellent protein profile, being gluten free and easier digestibility. Gives it a big edge over other grains.

I hope you like the recipes. Thanks for stopping by.

@ manatita - Thank you.

@ Alocsin - Glad to know you are among those who love quinoa. Thanks for reading and passing it on.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Peggy,

Glad you like this hub. Thanks for reading, appreciating and including a link to this hub in yours. Appreciate the sharing. Nice to see you.

Hi J.S.

Thanks for sparing time to read and comment. Thanks also for sharing the hub. It is a pleasure to have you here.


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

Rajan this is such great information and I love how you describe everything.. and thank you for putting it on the TOPS .. I don't know if you put it on cooking time. I will.. wonderful hub thank you

Debbie


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks Debbie. For reading and sharing. Always a pleasure to see you.


shai77 profile image

shai77 4 years ago

Quinoa is such a great grain, not only for the health benefits but to break up the boring potatoes and rice people are so attached to here in the US. Great hub, what good work. Very informative as usual.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi shai. Thanks for your input. Thanks for the read.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

Since we have an abundance of quinoa in Peru, we often use it as a substitute for rice. We use flaked quinoa in cereals for breakfast, too. I know it's excluded from the paleo diet because it's technically a seed, so it's good to be reminded of all its nutritional content. The leaves are often eaten in the Peruvian Andes, just as you mention. Thank you for another quality hub!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi vespawolf,

Glad to have your input. It surely is welcome. Appreciate the visit and comments. Thank you.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Great hub, I have never thought about eating quinoa , now I will after reading your hub. I wonder how it tastes though!! Thanks for sharing this informative and very useful hub.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Nithya - I'm sure you'll like the taste. I'd rather not think too much about the taste if something is real healthy. nice to know you like the information. Thanks.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I know how healthy quinoa is and have tried it a few times. It has a unique flavor that goes well with veggies. Thanks for your information on the heatlh benefits.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi teaches, glad you appreciate the info. Thanks for stopping by.


Indian Chef profile image

Indian Chef 3 years ago from New Delhi India

Again very nicely written hub. Is it available in India and if yes then what is its Hindi name. Sharing it, voting it up, awesome and interesting.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Indian Chef, I din't think it is available in India. Maybe you need to check with the stores who stock imported food stuff. Also, I am not aware of a Hindi name for it. Thanks for the read, sharing and votes.


Naveena 20 months ago

Quinoa is available in India. Shop online for quinoa at www.saiwholefoods.com


dr R. P. S .Yadav 17 months ago

I am agriculturist and required quinoa seed . How can I get it? how much seed is required for one acre?


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 17 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

dr Yadav, I'm sorry I have no idea about your query but you could contact your local agricultural University in this regard or those who sell seeds for agriculture.

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