Quinoa is a grain rich in proteins and used regularly in South American diets.

It has a wonderful nutty flavor and is easily digestible when cooked. Hence, it can be used in a wide variety of recipes for all meals.

It is recommended that quinoa be substituted for rice, couscous, pasta or bulgar. Since it is gluten-free, it is a great food option for those with celiac disease and also a wonderful plant-based protein food for vegans.

Nutritional facts of Quinoa

Did you know that the UNFAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) has officially declared 2013 as ‘The International Year of the Quinoa’?

This proposal has been given by many governments in Central and South America, since quinoa is a food that has ‘high nutritive value’ with an impressive biodiversity.

Quinoa has high protein content and provides us with all essential amino acids, especially isoleucine and lysine. It contains antioxidant phytonutrients like courmaic, ferulic, vanillic acid and hydroxybenzoic. Antioxidant flavonoids found in abundance in quinoa are kaemferol and quercetin.

In fact this concentration is higher that those found in lingoberry and cranberry – two high-flavonoid berries. It also contains anti-inflammatory nutrient polysaccharides, vitamin E and manganese that are good anti-oxidants, nutrients that promote bone health like folate, fiber and magnesium and bone-building minerals copper and phosphorous.

Quinoa has small quantities of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids both which provide excellent nutritive benefits. It has greater concentration of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats than other cereals like wheat. Yet despite this fat content, it does not suffer from oxidation and loss of nutrients.

One great advantage that is to be noted is that whichever way quinoa is cooked – boiled, simmered or steamed – it does not compromise too much on the quality of fatty acids present. This helps us to enjoy eating quinoa in varied ways while still enjoying its nutrient benefits.

The following is a nutritional profile of uncooked quinoa.

For a serving size of 170g

  • Calories 626
  • Calories from fat 93
  • Total fat 10 g (16% Daily value (DV))
  • Saturated fat 1g (6% DV)
  • Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV)
  • Sodium 9 mg (0% DV)
  • Total carbohydrates 109g (36% DV)
  • Dietary fiber 12g (48% DV)
  • Proteins 25g (48% DV)
  • Calcium 8%
  • Iron 43%

The following is a nutritional profile of cooked quinoa.

For a serving size of 185g

  • Calories 222
  • Calories from fat 32
  • Total fat 4g (16% DV)
  • Saturated fat (0% DV)
  • Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV)
  • Sodium 13mg (1% DV)
  • Total carbohydrates 39g (13% DV)
  • Dietary fiber 5g (21% DV)
  • Protein 8g (48% DV)
  • Calcium 3%
  • Iron 15%

DV refers to percent daily value that is based on 2000 calorie diet. Each person’s DV will vary depending on daily needs. The nutritional opinion is that this food is very low in sodium and cholesterol and low in saturated fats. It is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, folate and manganese.

The following is a food rating chart that indicates the particular nutrients that quinoa is rich in. This is only for some of the nutrients that quinoa has in abundance and does not mean that it does not contain other nutrients.

Quinoa 42.50g contains nutrient % daily value of:

  • Manganese 43%
  • Tryptophan 21.8%
  • Magnesium 20.9%
  • Folate 19.5%
  • Phosphorous 19.4%

When compared to other foods in the ‘World’s Healthiest Food Rating’, the following is the rating for quinoa. An excellent rating is awarded to foods with a DV >= 75%, very good rating DV >= 50% and good rating DV >= 25%.

 

  • Manganese – very good
  • Tryptophan – good
  • Magnesium – good
  • Folate – good
  • Phosphorous – good

Carbohydrates are required by the body to create glucose which provides fuel and energy to our various organs. There are two types of carbohydrates – complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates contain starch and dietary fiber found in some vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Quinoa is a whole grain that contains complex carbohydrates.

Conclusion

Meat is often considered to be the ideal source of proteins. Vegans and vegetarians are often said to lack proteins for they do not include any form of meat in their diet.

Most vegetables contain little or no proteins. While it is enjoyable to eat a steak or chop occasionally, making it a habit can increase cholesterol and blood pressure.

Quinoa presents a high-quality source of protein with all essential amino acids and hence provides a safe nutritive alternative for meat.  It is also a good grain substitute for those who suffer from nut allergies or gluten intolerance.

Being a food rich in nutrients it provides many health benefits.

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