Ten years ago, few people outside of South America had heard of quinoa, but today you can find boxes of it next to the rice in your grocery store.
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Why the change? Because quinoa gives you all the benefits of a seed and a grain simultaneously; it’s a phenomenal source of protein, fiber and vitamins that you can eat in place of rice or as a bread or a pasta. Here are some spectacular benefits of quinoa that make adding it to your diet a no-brainer.
A Complete Protein Package
Quinoa is a “complete protein,” meaning this super grain delivers all nine of the essential amino acids your body can’t make itself. This makes it a great food for vegetarians, who don’t get those amino acids from meat, and an absolute godsend for vegans, who don’t get them from eggs or milk, either.
But even if you enjoy meat, quinoa remains one of the best protein packages out there and is much healthier for you than animal protein. Studies confirm that the quality of protein you eat is just as important as the quantity, if not more so.
Substituting a vegetable source of protein for red meat can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. With its complete profile of amino acids, quinoa is a quick and logical substitute for meat, packing a nutritional punch without the fat and cholesterol.
More Filling Than Other Grains
Do you like rice with lunch or dinner? According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, you should consider quinoa instead. A 2005 study showed that people who ate quinoa instead of the same amount of rice felt more full afterward, which could reduce your risk of overeating or heavy snacking later on.
You’ve heard of the way antioxidants extend your lifespan by blocking free radicals, the substances that break down our DNA and chromosomes and cause the effects of aging. Quinoa is high in antioxidants, particularly polyphenol, phytosterol and flavonoids. These antioxidants may reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and even neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Vitamins And Minerals
Quinoa doesn’t just provide a low-fat source of protein; it also gives you levels of vitamins and minerals that put it in a league close to spinach. It has triple the calcium and iron of wheat, as well as double the potassium. The benefits are even better when compared to rice; quinoa has over 20 times rice’s calcium content and dwarfs its iron content by almost as much.
Although most of us know the benefits of iron and calcium in our diets, quinoa is also an excellent source of a less celebrated mineral: magnesium. Magnesium helps to regulate your blood pressure and your heart and nerve function, which may be part of quinoa’s positive effects on cardiovascular health. It also helps your body to synthesize calcium and potassium more effectively, which makes it an excellent mineral to have in such a high-calcium, high-potassium food.
Gluten-Free And Kosher For Passover
One of the best things about quinoa is its accessibility. Are you vegan? You can eat quinoa. Do you have celiac disease or are you on a gluten-free diet by choice? You can eat quinoa, and in fact, the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics performed a 2009 study suggesting that adding quinoa to your diet is one of the best ways to get the fiber, protein and iron you need without wheat.
Are you keeping kosher for Passover? Eat quinoa to your heart’s content; it isn’t related to rye, wheat, barley, oats or spelt (although you should check with your rabbi if you typically avoid legume-like foods such as peas or corn because quinoa is sometimes lumped into that category).