Quinoa is a grain that has been used since ancient Incan Civilization in South American countries like Peru, Bolivia and Colombia – especially in the Andes regions.
It has been introduced to North American cuisine quite recently after people began to realize its nutritional value and the fact that it can easily be incorporated into various meal plans. Although quinoa has been classified a grain, it is actually a seed. The dry seed has a very hard outer shell that cannot be digested.
Hence, quinoa has to be pre-soaked before cooking. Most of uncooked quinoa sold in stores is of the pre-cooked variety. Quinoa is similar in texture to rice and couscous although it has a richer and nuttier flavor.
Quinoa is a complete protein for it contains every single amino acid just like soy, fish and meat. It is also rich in carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like phosphorous, manganese, iron and magnesium.
Quinoa for weight loss
Quinoa is considered a whole grain similar to wheat or corn. Whole grains are said to be a better addition to the diet rather than refined grain, especially for those who wish to go on a diet.
This is because whole grains have more nutritive content per calorie. Since refined grains are cleaned of germ and bran to increase shelf-life, their nutritive value also decreases.
Whole grain foods like quinoa help with weight loss for they lower body mass index. In a study on whole grain foods and weight loss, 50 obese adults, 25 men and 25 women were given dietary advice to only consume whole-grained foods or completely avoid them.
They were also given a dietary regime apart from this for a 12 week period. At the end of this, the body mass index was calculated, waist circumference measured and body weight taken.
Both groups lost weight over this period. However, the group that consumed whole grain had a greater percentage of weight loss in the abdominal region compared to the group that did not consume whole grains.
The high fiber content in quinoa means that those on a diet feel full after eating only small quantities of this whole grain.
This helps them maintain a low-calorie diet and lose weight too. The high protein content and sufficient quantities of complex carbohydrates in quinoa means that your metabolism picks up, you feel full of energy, levels of satiation are high, cravings are less and blood sugar levels are stable.
Feeling full for longer periods of time means that you resist eating high-calorie processed snacks that add to your weight.
It is considered one of the most nutritious grains. Hence, anyone using quinoa during weight loss will be able to get sufficient quantities of most nutrients and will not suffer from a deficiency.
Manganese and copper found in quinoa work together to fight free radicals. This lowers the risk of contracting various infections and diseases.
These minerals also help with weight loss. Another great benefit of quinoa for weight loss is that it is completely gluten-free. Hence, it can be included as part of a glycemic index diet that diabetics can use. Since it contains all the amino acids and omega-3 and omega-6, it is a great weight loss food for vegetarians too.
How to include quinoa for weight loss
Quinoa can be incorporated into various recipes and used for all meals – breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is prepared similar to rice. Hence, any dish that requires rice in it can be replaced by quinoa.
Since it is non-fattening and tasty, most people enjoy dishes made with quinoa. You can also use quinoa flour for baked dishes.
The following is the nutrition facts for a 100g serving of quinoa.
- Calories – 120
- Calories from fat – 20
- Total fat - 2g (3% DV)
- Sodium – 5mg (0% DV)
- Total carbohydrates – 21g (7% DV)
- Dietary fiber – 3g (12% DV)
- Protein – 4g
- Calcium – 2%
- Iron – 8%
Quinoa does not contain significant quantities of trans fat, saturated fat, sugars, cholesterol, vitamin A and vitamin C. The ‘Percent Daily Value (DV)’ here is based on 2000 calorie diet.
Quinoa must be washed thoroughly before cooking to remove saponin that coats it on the outside. Saponin has a very bitter taste and even a small quantity left on the seeds can spoil the dish.
Hence, place quinoa in a strainer and wash under running water for a few minutes to get rid of all saponin.
Other than this, quinoa does not really produce any side effects. It is a diet-friendly and healthy food that can be eaten by almost anyone. Eating too much of course will cause you to exceed your daily caloric intake and this can mar your weight loss goals.