Today, quinoa is one of the world’s most popular health foods, recognized for its high levels of protein, fiber, and many other nutrients as well as being one of the few plant foods containing all nine essential amino acids. Not to mention, it’s gluten-free! Here are 13 amazing health benefits quinoa has to offer as well as reasons you need to start incorporating it into your diet with a few easy, delicious recipes:
It’s extremely nutritious.
A grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds, quinoa comes in three main forms: white, red and black. In one cup of quinoa, you will find: 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 58 percent of the recommended daily allowance of manganese, 30 percent of the RDA of magnesium, 28 percent of the RDA of phosphorus, 19 percent of the RDA of folate, 18 percent of the RDA of copper, 15 percent of RDA of iron, 13 percent of the RDA of zinc, 9 percent of the RDA of potassium, over 10 percent of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6, and small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.
Related: 5 Health Benefits of Turmeric
It contains two very healthy flavonoids.
Quinoa comes complete with two noteworthy flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that provide a plethora of health benefits. Specifically, quercetin and kaempferol, which are found in large quantities in quinoa. Both have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects.
Eat it for breakfast: Baked Breakfast Quinoa with Dates and Bananas
This baked breakfast quinoa is hearty, healthy and delicious. It’s naturally sweetened with bananas and dates, and topped off with an irresistible crunchy almond streusel.
It’s extremely high in fiber.
Quinoa’s high fiber content is far above that of most grains. One study, which looked at 4 varieties of quinoa, discovered a range between 10 and 16 grams of fiber per every 100 grams. While most of the fiber in quinoa is insoluble, it still has about 2.5 grams of soluble fiber per cup. Studies have shown that soluble fiber can aid in the reduction of blood sugar levels and cholesterol, while boosting feelings of satiety that can help with weight loss.
It’s a great food for people adhering to a gluten-free diet.
Whether you’re gluten intolerant, suffer from Celiac’s disease, or perhaps just choose to keep gluten out of your diet, quinoa is a great option for you. In fact, studies have found that opting for quinoa over typical gluten-free ingredients such as refined tapioca, potato, corn and rice flour, can significantly boost the amount of nutrients and antioxidants you get in your diet.
Munch on it for a snack: Healthy Quinoa Nachos
Though typical nachos are laden with empty calories and fat, these ones are light and full of healthy ingredients like quinoa, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and corn. Topped with goat cheese, which is low in calories compared to other cheeses, but offers a creamy and rich flavor, you won’t be able to resist this sensational snack.
It’s very high in protein.
Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that offers all nine essential amino acids. This makes it a “complete” protein. Quinoa has more, as well as better, protein than almost all grains, offering up 8 grams per cup. It’s a great protein option for vegetarians and vegans as well.
It can reduce your risk of diabetes.
Consuming whole grains with high fiber has been linked to a reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. One study even discovered that increasing whole grain consumption by two servings per day significantly lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent. Research has also specifically shown that quinoa can reduce enzymes associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.
It can reduce the risk of cancer.
Quinoa is one of the highest sources of quercetin, which has been shown to reduce the risk of various types of cancer. And in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Spanish and Italian researchers discovered the presence of epigallocatechin, which is a polyphenol present in green tea that has been shown to inhibit angiogenesis and cancer cell proliferation, as well as suppress inflammation.
Make it for lunch: Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
Salad is a lunchtime staple, but sometimes you can get sick of the same old combo. Enter this unique option! It’s filled with delicious and healthy ingredients, like carrots, cabbage, quinoa, cilantro, cashews, red pepper and onion.
It has a low glycemic index.
The glycemic index measures how rapidly certain foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods high on this index are known to cause hunger, and can lead to obesity, while also leading to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Quinoa, however, has a low glycemic index of 53.
It can protect the heart.
Quinoa is chock-full of heart healthy fats, with about 4g of fat per cup, and no trans-fats. Of the fat in quinoa, about 25 percent is oleic acid, which is a healthy monounsaturated fat. Eight percent goes to alpha-linolenic acid, which is the type of omega-3 found in plants, and is linked to a reduction in the risk of death from heart attacks.
It’s very high in antioxidants.
Because antioxidants are believed to combat aging and many diseases, consuming foods high in them is recommended. One study that looked at antioxidants in 10 foods found that quinoa had the highest content of all of them.
Include it at dinner: Brown Sugar Honey Marinated Salmon with Caramelized Pineapple Quinoa
This dinner recipe will fill you up and certainly please your palate. Plus, you’ll get your evening dose of healthy fats and proteins.
It contains lysine.
Lysine is a special amino acid that is typically found in sports supplements marketed toward those looking to add lean muscle to their body. It’s also been said to aid in strengthening the immune system, and has been found to raise serotonin levels.
It aids in digestion.
One cup of cooked quinoa has 21 percent of the RDA of fiber, and is more easily digestible than numerous other grains. One study even found that participants reported feeling fuller after eating quinoa as opposed to wheat or rice.
Try it for dessert: Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies don’t have to be filled with unhealthy ingredients. Opt for quinoa flour to make your next batch. One of these delicious desserts will only set you back 62 calories, so go ahead and indulge!
It may help you live longer.
Some scientists have found that the fiber in quinoa is linked to longevity. A meta-analysis of relevant studies explained that, “high dietary fiber intake may reduce the risk of total mortality.” Another study found positive results when researchers reviewed how eating whole-grains was able to stave off chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.