Quinoa: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Quinoa: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Overview

The belief that quinoa is a grain is actually incorrect in the scientific sense.

It is considered as pseudo-cereal and called “Chenopodium quinoa”.

When we dig deeper into its history, quinoa’s popularity could go back as far as 3,000 BC in the Andes.

Even in this period, there was a wide range of quinoa cultivated.

This plant could grow in many different conditions, from high altitudes to sub-freezing temperatures.

Quinoa and maize are claimed to have been the main source of food for the Inca Empire.

Although quinoa seeds are what we mainly consume today, it is true that other parts of this plant can be consumed as well.

Today, quinoa makes its appearance in the United States mainly from South America, with Peru and Bolivia exceeding other countries in producing quinoa.

Quinoa can generate $87 million dollars of export sales in the two countries.

Such important role of quinoa can be explained when scientists shed light on quinoa nutrition facts.

Nutrition Facts

Quinoa - Nutrition Facts

When we examine further quinoa nutrition facts, it is simple to realize that quinoa is truly a star among cereals.

Uncooked quinoa provides such a great amount of calories when 100 grams of it contains 368 kcal of energy (1).

Water makes up for the biggest amount in uncooked quinoa, followed by carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Notably, all 9 important amino acids are present in quinoa, which is remarkably rare among plant foods.

This feature of quinoa nutrition definitely gives it many unique health benefits.

Per 100 grams of uncooked quinoa, there are about 7 grams of fiber.

The richness of other necessary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus or iron, is important as well.

When it comes to vitamins, it would be a flaw if we forget thiamin, vitamins B6, B12, A and E in quinoa.

All information on quinoa nutrition facts contributes to the understanding of quinoa health benefits.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

Below are top 10 health benefits of quinoa that have been summarized after centuries of using this beneficial plant.

1. Weight Loss

Quinoa - Weight Loss

There are many reasons to explain for health benefits of quinoa on the efforts to lose weight.

First, quinoa, along with other pseudo-cereals, may regulate the appetite.

Therefore, quinoa helps you reduce the consumption of foods (2).

On the other hand, foods whose glycemic index score is low, like quinoa, help you stay away from hunger more efficiently (3).

This plays an important role in weight loss.

Quinoa will cut down your food use but still supply your body with enough energy, thanks to its high calories level.

Second, there is a close link between quinoa’s high content of protein and a boost in the metabolism

This link is beneficial for fighting against obesity (4).

In addition, the amount of fiber in quinoa is higher than that in other grains.

Fiber is a great contributor to weight-loss diet (5).

Bottom Line: Quinoa is a combination of many appropriate qualities that support your weight loss.

2. Control Blood Sugar

In recent years, the glycemic index has been more and more common to measure the effects of foods on the level of blood sugar.

Foods with the high glycemic index score are associated with weight gain and many diseases (6).

Regarding the glycemic index, the score for quinoa is quite low – 53.

In a study on high fructose-fed rats, the result revealed that the level of blood sugar decreased by 10 percent (7).

Bottom Line: Quinoa, which holds a quite low score in the glycemic index, is effective to reduce the blood sugar level.

3. Antioxidant

With all nutrients found in quinoa, it should come as no surprise that it is highly antioxidant.

One of the most remarkable features of quinoa is the presence of flavonoids. They have many great impacts on our general health.

Quinoa has a considerable amount of quercetin, a flavonoid which has been included in many studies, surpassing many other high-quercetin foods, such as cranberries (8).

Many studies have focused on the antioxidant quality of quercetin for years.

They confirmed that it is suitable to protect many different parts of your body (9) (10).

Another outstanding antioxidant flavonoid in quinoa responsible for many quinoa health benefits is kaempferol (11).

Bottom Line: Containing a lot of flavonoids, quinoa provides many amazing health benefits with its antioxidants.

4. Anti-Cancer

Quinoa contains some of the most powerful polyphenol antioxidants, namely, quercetin and kaempferol.

Therefore, many health benefits of quinoa lie in the prevention against cancer.

Cancer mainly results from the uncontrolled development of cells inside the body.

With such powerful antioxidants, you can protect yourself from a vast range of cancer (12) (13) (14) (15).

Bottom Line: Quinoa plays an important part in the prevention against many types of cancer.

5. Digestion

One of the best health benefits of quinoa is to strengthen your digestive system.

It will protect you from many problems, such as constipation or bloating.

This feature comes directly from its richness of fiber.

The amount of fiber in quinoa is twice as much as other grains.

Most fiber in quinoa is insoluble and has positive impacts on the bowel movements (16).

Bottom Line: With a high level of insoluble fiber, quinoa proves to be a great supporter to the digestive system.

6. Bone

The next one in the list of top health benefits of quinoa is all about bone health.

Interestingly, quinoa contains a substantial amount of calcium which we often see in daily products.

And it is undeniable that calcium-rich foods are super beneficial for our bones (17).

Furthermore, another important element that amplifies quinoa health benefits is magnesium.

It also gives a hand in maintaining your bone health.

Bottom Line: With calcium and magnesium, quinoa can strengthen your bone significantly.

7. Diabetes

Fiber can constitute many other health benefits of quinoa, especially in the treatment for diabetes.

There has been a series of studies to test the effects of dietary fiber consumption on patients with diabetes (18) (19).

The conclusion is that when the intake of fiber increases, the risk of diabetes will be much lower (20).

Bottom Line: Quinoa is a beneficial agent for both preventing and dealing with diabetes.

8. Metabolism

Although more studies are necessary to varify the real influence of quinoa, it is logical that one of the best health benefits of quinoa is to improve your metabolism.

Quinoa which is free from gluten may lower the level of blood sugar, triglyceride and insulin remarkably (21).

A study carried out on rats indicated that the addition of quinoa will contain the negative impacts of fructose (22).

Bottom Line: There is still a need for further analysis, but the positive effects of quinoa in the metabolic rate are promising.

9. Gallstone Prevention

It is the high amount of fiber that makes a plant perfect to prevention the gallstone formation (23).

Quinoa is full of fiber. Thus, it is undeniable that one of the best health benefits of quinoa is to prevention gallstones.

When you consume quinoa often, the secretion of bile juice will decline significantly and so will the gallstone formation.

10. Cardiovascular Diseases

Quinoa - Cardiovascular Diseases

Last but not least, quinoa nutrition is super beneficial for coping with cardiovascular diseases.

There are many feasible explanations for these health benefits of quinoa.

Known as a pseudo-cereal which provides a lot of proteins, quinoa is ranked quite low in the glycemic index.

Moreover, its abundance of fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, along with many antioxidants, gives quinoa many advantages on eradicating the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Side Effects

Although health benefits of quinoa are reliable and popular, you had better pay attention to the right use of this plant.

When the consumption becomes excessive, it is likely that you experience some annoying problems.

The presence of phytates in quinoa, as well as other grains and cereals, will hinder your body’s ability to absorb essential minerals, such as zinc and iron (24).

Besides, oxalates are another element in quinoa that you should use carefully.

They might speed up the formation of kidney stones for sensitive subjects (25).

Disclaim: The effectiveness from using these foods on certain problems and diseases will be depended on the body condition of the applicant.

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