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What exactly is quinoa? Well, it’s not new anymore as we know but why should we include it in our regular diet, is it another substitute for rice? or is it lentil? or grain? Let’s find out with 12 health benefits of quinoa listed below with brief introduction to the components of this newly adored food.
It actually is a seed which can grouped with grains, only because of it’s dietary benefits and texture. It is high in protein, so it’s ideal for vegetarians, in fact quinoa is complete protein; also it is suitable for everyone with gluten allergies (it’s wheat and gluten free – easy to digest). Except for so much protein – it’s loaded with Vitamins – Potassium, Minerals and Magnesium, makes for a perfect breakfast or salad to keep you hunger-free for at least 3 hours straight and hence called a superfood.
12 Health Benefits of Quinoa
1. Nutritional value of quinoa
Quinoa is coming up as a super-food now, but it’s consumption dates back to three to four thousand years. There are 3 types of Quinoa: Red, White and Black.
1 cup of Quinoa cooks up to 3 bowls to serve. As mentioned, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals; it consists Protein, Fiber, Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Potassium, Folate, Iron and Phosphorus – all for just one cup of Quinoa (about 185 grams). It’s gluten free and is usually grown organically.
It is very popular among health conscious people and also cooking it is absolutely hassle free. It can be easily incorporated into diets and goes well with many foods. There is however, an important step before cooking it, i.e., checking if it is pre-washed or not. Boxes mention if they are washed before packing and if they aren’t – it is important to rinse it with water to wash of Saponins (the bitter outer-layer).
Quinoa originated in South America and also is majorly imported from Peru and Bolivia. It represents natural antioxidant compounds and these compounds help improve the nutritive properties of Quinoa based foods/recipes. However, cooking methods could influence the nutritional value. Antioxidant activity of bitter seeds are higher as it contains ‘flavonoid’ and ‘phenol’ while it derives sweetness from ‘carotenoid’. It is high in Vitamin C and Vitamin E and beta Carotene which are capable of counteracting the damaging effects of oxidation.
The main problems with other grain based foods is that they may call them self gluten free but are made with refined starch! So it’s a hard call on whether it is still junk food?
3. Weight Loss
This item is can be categorized with spinach, kale and Swiss chard. There ought to be a variety of ways in which quinoa helps losing weight – it’s low-calorie and high vitamin, it is high in dietary fiber and protein (which keeps you full longer), hence, no craving for munchies!
The dietary fibers holds to fat and cholesterol, which promotes the body to absorb lesser fat and cholesterol. In fact cooked quinoa has far fewer calories than uncooked quinoa – as it absorbs the water and swells up 2 times the uncooked size while the weight remains same. 1 cup per day is more than enough to give the body a proper dietary meal. It stabilizes blood sugar and because of the protein the body will burn more calories during digestion as protein needs more energy to break down.
This seed is particularly good for the digestive system; our system works all day long to provide proper nourishment to the mind and body at all times. The digestive system is also the most prone to go through consequences during illness, diet changes or disease’s causing gallstones, diarrhea, constipation or gastric. At such times, it is a tough call to the choice of safe foods to eat.
Quinoa has soluble and insoluble fiber that helps retaining water in the large intestine – making digestion easy, this also helps with regular bowel movement. The insoluble fiber in Quinoa helps reduce risk of digestive problems like hemorrhoid or diverticulosis. Where as the soluble fibers helps remove cholesterol from the intestine keeping us full for longer and prevents over-eating.
5. Metabolic Health
Given, all it’s components it is not at all debatable that quinoa also work it’s magic on improving the metabolism. It reduces blood-sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels.
It removes toxins from the blood and converts them into harmless forms for excretion, produces proteins for blood clotting, breaks down fats and old and damaged cells. It stores nutrients and provides Vitamins E, C and B and Zinc, Copper, Manganese to the liver. Similarly, to the kidney it provides Vitamin C and B and potassium each day for filtering blood to remove toxins ans waste and also regulates blood pressure and manufacture new cells.
Diabetic people often have to choose between healthy food and tasteful food. Nutritionists mostly suggest cutting down on grains with high glycemic index (as it shoots the blood sugar levels), Whereas quinoa is on the low end. As mentioned, quinoa is a complete protein and this is because it contains all the amino acids to make a protein and also it’s dietary fiber content makes it ideal for diabetics. All these nutrients help keeping blood sugar under control naturally.
There is a questionable fact indeed, quinoa however high in protein also consists more carbs, say 20 grams per half-a-cup. So you can consider other options if avoiding carbs. Zucchini and Cauliflower are a substitute for quinoa or rice, double portions of them will still count lesser carbs, say 6 grams for 1 cup of zucchini and 5 grams for 1 cup of cauliflower. (this is mainly for people on diets or type 2 diabetes)
Skin Benefits of Quinoa
7. Slow Aging
Eating Quinoa sure does a lot of good to the body but it’s surprising that we don’t have to swallow it down for much of it. Quinoa has some anti-aging properties. A spa in Peru actually offers a Deep Hydration Cleansing Facial with quinoa based products and promises to offer deep-hydration and stop premature aging of the skin. Quinoa is a very effective exfoliant and tones the skin and provides nourishment.
Well, it’s not possible to fly up to Peru every month! But what one can do is prepare a quinoa base and mix with honey (mix cooked quinoa with olive oil and honey to create a desirable consistency). So, Get Set and Exfoliate!
With age the collagen producing process slows down in fact it decreases and this leads to wrinkles aging of skin. Studies prove that when Quinoa is applied topically – hinders an enzyme (matrix metalloproteinase) which breaks down collagen and helps keep the skin firm.
There are available quinoa based moisturizers in the market now, which are recommended if wrinkles are you main concern. What happens to the skin is that – the oil glands reduces with age causing the skin to retain less moisture, hence making it saggy. A quinoa based moisturizer will hydrate the skin and prevent these changes.
Quinoa is known to reduce brown spots and rejuvenate skin. It lowers the clusters of melanin granule as it contains Vitamin B. Also cures acne effectively. If mixed with soy milk it repairs the sun damaged skin.
DIY face pack : cook 1/2 cup quinoa (white) in soy milk, let it cool.
2 drops mimosa oil – apply on face and keep for 25 minutes
rinse with lukewarm water.
Hair Benefits of Quinoa
10. Strengthens hair
The protein in Quinoa add strength to hair. It has some essential amino acids that the body can’t make on it’s own, the amino acids match the natural keratin and fills the gaps between the pores of strands – this protects from sunlight damage. It is cut into smaller pieces (so it matches with the keratin in the hair) via enzymes. This helps repair hair from the roots. Quinoa based products also works wonder if you have colored hair, it’s antioxidant elements keeps the color from fading.
11. Hydration to the Scalp
It contains humectants, that keeps the hair hydrated. Walking down to work or a windy day or weather exposure – can all pollute the hair; the dirt settle down on the scalp causing various issues like dryness, fizzy hair, stickiness, itching and more. Using quinoa based products or hair packs are a must do, if health of the hair is your major problem! You can find various DIY hair pack mixes on the web now.
It treats dandruff by sealing moisture in the scalp. The components – iron, calcium, phosphorus fights dandruff. Proteins in quinoa are capable of penetrating the hair to increase the elasticity, also prevents split ends.
Well, it’s not called the Mother Grain for no reason or let’s say for any less reason. Inner fitness or outer beauty, wellness is it’s prime duty! It’s vegetarian, yet super efficient in so many ways. Rice and Wheat over these years has witnessed many substitutes but quinoa is by far is ranked the best! The only nearest substitute is Millet. Millet vs Quinoa has been a debate in recent times.