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The Health Benefits of Quinoa

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Latin Name: Chenopodium quinoa

It is also called the goosefoot plant.

Quinoa is a seed but also a grain-like pseudo cereal that is eaten. Since it does not belong to the grass family to which cereals belong it is a pseudocereal. It is related to beets, spinach, swiss chard and tumbleweeds.

A native to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Columbia. its cultivation goes back 3000 to 4000 years in time. However, it has been growing in the wild for as long back as 5000 to 7000 years as per archaeological evidence.
Peru and Bolivia produce almost 99% of the world's quinoa production between them.

Quinoa Plant

The plant is about 1-2 metres in height. It can grow in a variety of climatic conditions. The flowers are small and form a cluster. The leaves contain betacyanin pigments and for this reason, they are seen in various colours like bright red, orange, pink, purple, tan and black. The leaves taste much like other members of the chenopod family, beet, spinach and chard.

The cooked seeds are creamy and fluffy in texture and crunchy. Also, the seeds become translucent when cooked. They have a slightly nutty flavour.

The entire plant is edible right from the leaves to the stem and seeds. The outer coating of the seeds contains the chemical saponin which is bitter and protects the seeds from wild birds eating them.

When the seeds are to be consumed they are washed well in water to remove the saponin which forms soap-like suds. Commercially processed quinoa has been washed usually.

Quinoa can be cooked just like rice. It can also be used as a breakfast cereal, mixed with an assortment of berries, nuts and some honey. It can be also be used like cornflakes.
The seeds can be made into a flour and used much like wheat flour with the added advantage of it being free from gluten and can thus replace wheat flour.
The seeds can also be germinated and eaten or they can be cooked with a variety of other vegetables and consumed.

The leaves and stems can be cooked and eaten just like spinach and beets.

Quinoa Nutritional Benefits

Quinoa has a lot of nutritional benefits as it is a food with a high nutritive value. The antioxidant phytonutrients quercetin and kaempferol are found in very concentrated amounts in quinoa.

The protein content in quinoa is almost the same as wheat; however quinoa scores in its protein profile, in that, it has all 9 essential amino acids, thus being termed as a source of complete protein.

Quinoa contains excellent amounts of dietary fibre and phosphorus. It has very good amounts of magnesium, folate, copper and iron. It is also a good source of calcium having almost twice as much of it than in wheat. Thus making it ideal for those who are lactose intolerant but need calcium.

It is also easy to digest and is gluten-free. Because of the bitter saponin in the seeds' outer coat, they are processed to remove this before packing.

The leaves contain the pigment betanin.

Colored Quinoa Grains

Nutritional Value Of Quinoa

Nutritional value

per 100g (3.5oz)

Energy

1,539kJ (368kcal)

Carbohydrates

64 g

Starch

52 g

Dietary fibre

7 g

Fat

6 g

polyunsaturated

3.3 g

Protein

14 g

Tryptophan

0.167 g

Threonine

0.421 g

Isoleucine

0.504 g

Leucine

0.840 g

Lysine

0.766 g

Methionine

0.309 g

Cystine

0.203 g

Phenylalanine

0.593 g

Tyrosine

0.267 g

Valine

0.594 g

Arginine

1.091 g

Histidine

0.407 g

Alanine

0.588 g

Aspartic acid

1.134 g

Glutamic acid

1.865 g

Glycine

0.694 g

Proline

0.773 g

Serine

0.567 g

Water

13 g

Thiamine (vit. B1)

0.36 mg (31%)

Riboflavin (vit. B2)

0.32 mg (27%)

Vitamin B6

0.5 mg (38%)

Folate(vit. B9)

184 ?g (46%)

Iron

4.6 mg (35%)

Magnesium

197 mg (55%)

Phosphorus

457 mg (65%)

Potassium

563 mg (12%)

Zinc

3.1 mg (33%)

Quinoa Health Benefits

Quinoa has various health benefits due to the following nutrients :

  • Different types of tocopherols, like alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols. These are absent in other grains
  • Anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, the polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans, the hydroxycinnamic acid and hydroxybenzoic acid.
  • Flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol.
  • Some omega 3 fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
  • Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. The fat content is very high compared to most grains. Oleic acid makes up almost 25% of the total fatty acids while ALA makes up about 8%.
  • A complete protein source with very good amounts of lysine and isoleucine, the 2 amino acids normally deficient in most grains.
  • In spite of it being high in fat content than cereals like wheat, it is not easily oxidized due to the wide and diverse types of antioxidants.
  • Boiling, steaming and simmering does not affect the nutritional quality much.

Quinoa Health Benefits In Specific Diseases And Health Conditions

Quinoa For Diabetes

Quinoa is a good source of dietary fiber and fiber is known to regulate blood sugar.
The excellent protein profile also regulates blood sugar.
The anti inflammatory nutrients also reduce diabetes risk.

Quinoa And Cardiovascular Disease

Quinoa lowers total cholesterol and keeps the HDL levels high.
The anti-inflammatory factors protect the blood vessels from damage due to inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory benefits are supposed to extend to preventing atherosclerosis too.
The magnesium reduces blood pressure and regulates heartbeat.

Quinoa Weight Loss

Quinoa has a low Glycemic Index thereby regulating blood sugar or keeping the blood sugar from spiking and crashing. This makes for keeping one fuller.
The seeds take time to digest fully and prevent hunger.
The protein and dietary fibre also keep one fuller longer preventing hunger.
Also, the dietary fibre binds to fat and cholesterol-reducing absorption of these by the body.

Quinoa And Migraine

Quinoa is high in magnesium and riboflavin.
Magnesium prevents contraction of the blood vessels and consequently relieves migraine.
Riboflavin benefits the brain and muscle cells' metabolism and helps in reducing migraine attacks.

Quinoa Fiber

Quinoa contains almost 12% fibre of which about 36% is soluble and 64% is insoluble.
The soluble fibre forms a gel that binds fat and cholesterol.
The insoluble fibre isn't absorbed and helps in making the bowel movements easier and regular thus keeping it clear of digested food.

Quinoa Allergy

As quinoa is gluten-free, it can become a healthy option for wheat as a grain. Moreover, it is highly digestible and can, therefore, be included in the diets of toddlers and children.
Quinoa reduces the risk of allergy in those who are sensitive to certain grains.

Allergy To Quinoa

Though Quinoa is not a high allergy-causing food, some people may be allergic to it. Some of the symptoms associated with this allergy may be :

  • Skin allergies like itching, swelling, hives, rashes etc or general inflammation of the skin.
  • Abdominal complaints like nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps etc.
  • Respiratory symptoms like sneezing, coughing, breathing difficulty, tightness of the chest etc.
  • Congestion and sinus headaches, sinus pressure etc.

Avoid consumption of Quinoa immediately, if you experience allergic symptoms and get medical treatment.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Recipes With Quinoa

  • Quinoa Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
    Crunchy vegetables, queso fresco, and quinoa are combined with a tart lime juice and fresh cilantro dressing to form a salad that is delightful both as a side dish as well as on its own.
  • Quinoa Chicken Salad with Vegetables: A Quick Meal for Every Season
    Quinoa Chicken Vegetable Salad is easy to prepare, nutritious, and refreshing as a summer main dish when it's hot outside and something light is called for. If you're out of chicken or my suggested vegetables, most protein substitutions will work jus

Some of my other hubs on Healthy Foods

  • Benefits Of Blueberry Plants And Blueberries Fruit
    Blueberries are amongst the most heavily antioxidant loaded berries. In fact, blueberries are said to benefit all the body systems. To know more about these berries also known as a superfood, read on....
  • Health Benefits Of Avocado
    Avocado provides the body with almost 20 essential nutrients. It also boosts the body's capacity to absorb more fat soluble nutrients from foods eaten with it. Plus it has various health benefits. To find out the amazing benefits of avocado, read on.
  • Watermelon And Some Good And Bad Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Watermelon
    Watermelon is a very healthy fruit but should be eaten in moderation or side effects of watermelon consumption can occur, like watermelon diarrhea, hyperkalemia, intestinal disturbances etc. To know more, read on...
  • Pink Himalayan Crystal Salt And Its Health Benefits
    Salt is an essential component of the human body as important as water. It is needed for various functions in the body. Himalayan crystal salt is the only salt that provides all the essential minerals that the body needs. To know the why and how of t
  • Health Benefits Of Coconut, Coconut Oil, Coconut Milk And Coconut Water
    Coconut is called a wonder food since it is almost a perfect meal. In the Vedas it has been called 'Kalpa Vriksha' meaning the tree which provides all necessities of life. It is used in many rituals and ceremonies apart from its use as food in a vari

Quinoa 101

Quinoa Salad Recipe

Quinoa Soup

Quinoa Protein Bars

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 25, 2015:

dr Yadav, I'm sorry I have no idea about your query but you could contact your local agricultural University in this regard or those who sell seeds for agriculture.

dr R. P. S .Yadav on June 25, 2015:

I am agriculturist and required quinoa seed . How can I get it? how much seed is required for one acre?

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 10, 2013:

Indian Chef, I din't think it is available in India. Maybe you need to check with the stores who stock imported food stuff. Also, I am not aware of a Hindi name for it. Thanks for the read, sharing and votes.

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on July 10, 2013:

Again very nicely written hub. Is it available in India and if yes then what is its Hindi name. Sharing it, voting it up, awesome and interesting.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on November 28, 2012:

Hi teaches, glad you appreciate the info. Thanks for stopping by.

Dianna Mendez on November 28, 2012:

I know how healthy quinoa is and have tried it a few times. It has a unique flavor that goes well with veggies. Thanks for your information on the heatlh benefits.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 18, 2012:

Hi Nithya - I'm sure you'll like the taste. I'd rather not think too much about the taste if something is real healthy. nice to know you like the information. Thanks.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 17, 2012:

Great hub, I have never thought about eating quinoa , now I will after reading your hub. I wonder how it tastes though!! Thanks for sharing this informative and very useful hub.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 13, 2012:

Hi vespawolf,

Glad to have your input. It surely is welcome. Appreciate the visit and comments. Thank you.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on October 13, 2012:

Since we have an abundance of quinoa in Peru, we often use it as a substitute for rice. We use flaked quinoa in cereals for breakfast, too. I know it's excluded from the paleo diet because it's technically a seed, so it's good to be reminded of all its nutritional content. The leaves are often eaten in the Peruvian Andes, just as you mention. Thank you for another quality hub!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 11, 2012:

Hi shai. Thanks for your input. Thanks for the read.

Chen on October 10, 2012:

Quinoa is such a great grain, not only for the health benefits but to break up the boring potatoes and rice people are so attached to here in the US. Great hub, what good work. Very informative as usual.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 30, 2012:

Thanks Debbie. For reading and sharing. Always a pleasure to see you.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on September 29, 2012:

Rajan this is such great information and I love how you describe everything.. and thank you for putting it on the TOPS .. I don't know if you put it on cooking time. I will.. wonderful hub thank you

Debbie

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 26, 2012:

Hi Peggy,

Glad you like this hub. Thanks for reading, appreciating and including a link to this hub in yours. Appreciate the sharing. Nice to see you.

Hi J.S.

Thanks for sparing time to read and comment. Thanks also for sharing the hub. It is a pleasure to have you here.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 26, 2012:

@ Gypsy - I do hope you find it there. I'd love to know what it's called in Latvian. Thanks for reading and sharing.

@ Kelly - Quinoa has become popular because of the excellent protein profile, being gluten free and easier digestibility. Gives it a big edge over other grains.

I hope you like the recipes. Thanks for stopping by.

@ manatita - Thank you.

@ Alocsin - Glad to know you are among those who love quinoa. Thanks for reading and passing it on.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on September 26, 2012:

Hello Rajan! As always, excellent Hub and a great guide to Quinoa Health Benefits. Thank you. Voting up and sharing. I enjoy learning from your healthy choices.

JSMatthew~

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 26, 2012:

Excellent hub about the health benefits of consuming quinoa in our diets. Thanks for including the link to my hub regarding Scrumptious Easy Quinoa Side Dish... Will add a link from this hub to mine. Up votes and sharing!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on September 26, 2012:

It's easy enough for me to enjoy these health benefits since I love the stuff. Voting this Up and Useful. Shared.

manatita44 on September 26, 2012:

Superexcellent article. Will be of great help to others.

KellyMediaBest from Tampa, Florida on September 26, 2012:

I've only recently started to see Quinoa popping up everywhere, and from this Hub I've realized that it may be as a reaction to the gluten-free craze that has taken over America. Quinoa seems to be the healthiest alternative to other wheat fibers, and can be used in endless ways from breakfast to lunch to dinner to snacks and desserts. Definitely going to have to try out some recipes that include quinoa.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on September 26, 2012:

Thanks for another interesting and useful hub. Sounds good will have to see if we can get quinoa here just a matter of translating it into Latvian. Passing this on.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 26, 2012:

Thanks for your visit and feedback, petenali.

Pete from Ontario, Canada on September 26, 2012:

Great food, just enjoyed some tasty quinoa last night for supper...

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 26, 2012:

Thanks for visiting MyCee. Much appreciated.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on September 26, 2012:

never seen this amazing plant before rajan! thank you for letting me know!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 26, 2012:

@ SommerDalton - thank you.

@ rideinthesidecar - thanks and glad you liked the hub. I hope you give the recipes a shot. Thanks for visiting.

@ Ruchira - that's good to hear as the protein in quinoa is complete in terms of the amino acid profile. Thanks for reading, voting and sharing.

RTalloni on September 25, 2012:

Thanks for this good reminder about quinoa and for thorough look at its benefits!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 25, 2012:

@ billybuc - thanks for all the wonderful compliments. Glad you like my healthy food hubs. Thank you.

@ denise - nice to learn you found some useful information in here. Appreciate the visit and share.

@ TTombs - Thanks TT. Good to learn this hub provided you information you needed. Tanks for visiting.

@ Pamela - wonderful to know to found this informational. I hope you try these recipes too. Appreciate your sparing time to read and leave a comment. Thanks.

KDuBarry03 on September 25, 2012:

I love Quinoa! My friend Greer got me hooked on this. Definitely a very interesting read, Rajan!

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on September 25, 2012:

Thanks rajan for this informative hub. I'm going to start eating more quinoa for it's great health benefits. Voted up and sharing!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 25, 2012:

@ JCielo - John, I'm glad you are aware of the health benefits of quinoa since you are interested in health related articles. Thanks for reading and appreciating.

@ Mrs Manning - glad to have your input. Thanks for reading.

@ Carol - Quinoa can be added to a variety of dishes to derive its health benefits. Thanks for visiting. Appreciate the reading, bookmarking and sharing.

@ healthylife - quinoa is a superfood with an abundance of nutrients. Glad this hub makes you want to try it out. Thanks for visiting.

Ruchira from United States on September 25, 2012:

Rajan,

Well written hub on quinoa. I make it 'cause of the protein it consists of and usually sautee this with loads of vegetables and our indian spices.

Thanks and voted up as useful and sharing it across

Deborah Freed from Virginia Mountains on September 25, 2012:

I have just in the last few months began eating and cooking Quinoa. It is delicious and I first just bought prepackaged dishes and have started to experiment with some of my own. It is tasty and extremely healthy! I can't wait to try some of your recipes here!! Thanks

Sommer Dalton on September 25, 2012:

So useful, voted up and more!!!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 25, 2012:

I am so glad you wrote this hub as I have been wanted to learn more about quinoa and try some new recipes. You hub is excellent and very thorough. Thank you for all the great information.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 25, 2012:

Rajan, I've seen so many products that listed quinoa in their ingredients but never knew what exactly it was. Thank you for clearing it up and providing so much information on a very healthy plant/food.

Denise Mai from Idaho on September 25, 2012:

Oh, how I love quinoa! I love it's texture and nutty flavor. I've used it in place of couscous for many recipes because it has more health benefits than little pastas. So glad to learn from you that it has a low glycemic index and can help me in my diet. And the migraine tip? Halleluja! Love to hear that tasty foods are healthy, too! Sharing this one.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2012:

I don't know how you do it, Rajan! You come up with things I have never heard of, and then masterfully explain them so that I feel I've been eating them all my life. Great information....you are a fountain of health information, my number one source. Bravo!

healthylife2 on September 25, 2012:

I've heard so much about quinoa but wasn't aware how many minerals it contained or that it it was a great source of calcium. I haven't tried it yet but am now motivated to do so. Voted up!

carol stanley from Arizona on September 25, 2012:

We had quinoa for dinner last night. I try to make it fairly often. Now all this good information and we will have it more. It seems pretty versatile and I love the colors. As always you write a complete and interesting hub. I am going to bookmark this as a reminder how healthful it is. Great hub as always. Up, share and bookmark....

Mrs Jil Manning from Sussex, England on September 25, 2012:

great hub! I'm quite new to quinoa and this has given me such a good start! Thanks very much for this.

JCielo from England on September 25, 2012:

Rajan, thanks for yet another extremely well-researched and information-packed hub. My wife and I have just started eating this superfood. Voted up and awesome.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 25, 2012:

Hi Written Up,

I'm glad you like the presented information. I'd like to read how you find the recipes.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Written Up from Oklahoma City, OK on September 25, 2012:

Packed full of information and very useful! Thanks for the great hub! I'm ready to try some new quinoa recipes.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 25, 2012:

Hi Deborah,

Thanks you were pretty fast on this one. Appreciate the read and comments. Thanks for sharing.

Deborah from Las Vegas on September 24, 2012:

Quinoa is a super food! Great hub Rajan, you are an amazing hubber. Excellent information and extensive as usual. I am going to try it. I'll start with the side dish you have linked. Great and voted up and shared!