A delicious addition to salads, porridge, cookies, and cupcakes and a wholesome substitute to refined rice and wheat – quinoa is a must-have in your pantry. It’s also gluten-free, making it the perfect choice for people who suffer from celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. To add to this, quinoa has a complex nutritional profile. Here are all the health benefits this superfood provides.
1. Is A Good Source Of Complete Protein
Whether you’re hitting the gym regularly or are just trying to eat clean, you need good sources of protein. It is responsible for maintaining the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Protein is made of amino acids, nine of which are essential since the body can’t produce them on its own and needs to get them through the diet. Keeping this in mind, foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are referred to as complete protein foods. Most plant-based foods are deficient in some of these essential amino acids, such as lysine. Quinoa is an exception to this. One cup of the grain provides 8 grams of complete protein. This makes it a good source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.1
2. Manages Blood Sugar Levels
If you’ve been trying to manage your blood sugar levels, a good way to find out how quickly a certain food will raise your blood sugar is to take a look at its glycemic index. Foods high on the glycemic index raise blood sugar levels and are linked to type 2 diabetes. They may also stimulate hunger and lead to obesity, both of which often increase the risk of diabetes. Quinoa, which has a low glycemic index of 53 does not raise blood sugar levels.4 5 6
3. May Aid Weight Loss
Quinoa is non-GMO, gluten-free and usually grown organically. Even though technically not a cereal grain, it still counts as a whole-grain food.
If you’re on a diet, quinoa might help you attain your weight-loss goals. It is high in protein, which increases metabolism and reduces appetite.7 In addition to this, quinoa packs in 17 grams of fiber per cup of its serving, which is more than twice as high as most other grains.8 Most of this is insoluble fiber which lowers appetite by increasing feelings of fullness. And the fewer calories you eat, the more likely you are to meet your caloric goals per day. That said, there are no studies that specifically look at the effect of consuming quinoa on body weight.9
4. Promotes Gut Health
The fiber in quinoa will help keep your gut health in check. The insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and promotes healthy bowel movements, which exercise the bowels. Since the bowel is a muscle it, like every other muscle in the body, needs regular exercise to maintain its function. Without insoluble fiber, the bowel doesn’t get enough of this exercise and eventually causes constipation. In time, this may also lead to hemorrhoids.
In addition this, insoluble fiber can help gut bacteria grow, which are living organisms that eat sugars and fiber. They also prevent bad bacteria from living in the gut and causing sickness.10
5. Promotes Thyroid Health
If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid disorders, stock up on quinoa. Quinoa offers 1.167 mg of manganese, which makes up for 64.8% of your recommended daily intake.11 This nutrient helps enzymes function and work properly in your body. It also plays a role in the production of thyroxine, a vital hormone that is required for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, which helps you maintain a proper appetite, metabolism, weight, and organ efficiency. Including quinoa in your diet might help manage your thyroid hormones.12
6. May Lower The Instances Of Epileptic Seizures
The antioxidants in quinoa may aid in the treatment of depression by reducing oxidative stress and stimulating depression-related signaling pathways.
The leading cause of epilepsy in adults over 35 is a stroke, caused by decreased blood flow to your brain. Manganese is known to enlarge veins and efficiently carry blood to tissues like the brain, in turn, decreasing the risk of a stroke and epileptic seizures.13 In addition to this, part of the body’s manganese content is found in the brain with several studies suggesting that manganese levels may be lower in individuals with seizure disorders.14 Quinoa might, hence, aid towards lowered instances of stroke and seizures.
7. May Prevent Cancer
Quinoa is very high in minerals, but its phytic acid can partly prevent them from being absorbed. Soaking or sprouting degrades most of the phytic acid.
Quinoa is packed with antioxidants which neutralize free radical damage. One study found that quinoa, in fact, had the highest antioxidant content of most foods. Two flavonoids, namely quercetin and kaempferol, both found in high amounts in quinoa, have been found to prevent the growth of cancer cells. This includes breast, lung, and pancreatic cancer. To increase the antioxidant-content of quinoa, allow the seeds to sprout.15
|↑1, ↑8, ↑11||Full Report (All Nutrients): 20137, Quinoa, cooked. United States Department Of Agriculture.|
|↑2||Berti, Cristiana, Patrizia Riso, Lucilla D. Monti, and Marisa Porrini. “In vitro starch digestibility and in vivo glucose response of gluten–free foods and their gluten counterparts.” European Journal of Nutrition 43, no. 4 (2004): 198-204.|
|↑3||Paśko, Paweł, Paweł Zagrodzki, Henryk Bartoń, Joanna Chłopicka, and Shela Gorinstein. “Effect of quinoa seeds (Chenopodium quinoa) in diet on some biochemical parameters and essential elements in blood of high fructose-fed rats.” Plant foods for human nutrition 65, no. 4 (2010): 333-338.|
|↑4||Ludwig, David S., Joseph A. Majzoub, Ahmad Al-Zahrani, Gerard E. Dallal, Isaac Blanco, and Susan B. Roberts. “High glycemic index foods, overeating, and obesity.” Pediatrics 103, no. 3 (1999): E26.|
|↑5||Lennerz, Belinda S., David C. Alsop, Laura M. Holsen, Emily Stern, Rafael Rojas, Cara B. Ebbeling, Jill M. Goldstein, and David S. Ludwig. “Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 98, no. 3 (2013): 641-647.|
|↑6||Jenkins, David JA, Cyril WC Kendall, Livia SA Augustin, Silvia Franceschi, Maryam Hamidi, Augustine Marchie, Alexandra L. Jenkins, and Mette Axelsen. “Glycemic index: overview of implications in health and disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 76, no. 1 (2002): 266S-273S.|
|↑7||Westerterp-Plantenga, Margriet S. “Protein intake and energy balance.” Regulatory peptides 149, no. 1-3 (2008): 67-69.|
|↑9||Roberts, Susan B. “High–glycemic index foods, hunger, and obesity: is there a connection?.” Nutrition reviews 58, no. 6 (2000): 163-169.|
|↑10||Do We Really Need Insoluble Fiber? Bastyr University.|
|↑12||Soldin, O. P., and M. Aschner. “Effects of manganese on thyroid hormone homeostasis: potential links.” Neurotoxicology 28, no. 5 (2007): 951-956.|
|↑13||Liu, Shasha, Weihua Yu, and Yang Lü. “The causes of new-onset epilepsy and seizures in the elderly.” Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment 12 (2016): 1425.|
|↑14||Carl, George F., L. K. Blackwell, F. C. Barnett, L. A. Thompson, C. J. Kissinger, K. L. Olin, J. W. Critchfield, C. L. Keen, and B. B. Gallagher. “Manganese and epilepsy: brain glutamine synthetase and liver arginase activities in genetically epilepsy-prone and chronically seizure rats.” Epilepsia 34, no. 3 (1993): 441-446.|
|↑15||Murakami, Akira, Hitoshi Ashida, and Junji Terao. “Multitargeted cancer prevention by quercetin.” Cancer letters 269, no. 2 (2008): 315-325.|