For those of you who have never heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah or ken-no-ah), it is a nutritious seed that is often used as a substitute for rice.
The yellowish pods (although colours can vary) come from a plant called Chenopodium quinoa, which is native to South America.
When cooked, quinoa has a soft and fluffy texture with a slightly nutty taste, and it can be used to make flour and various foods like pasta and bread.
Better yet, it is packed full of protein, fibre, and a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals, which means quinoa is fast becoming the go-to superfood for the health conscious.
Here’s five other great reasons to eat quinoa:
There is research to suggest quinoa can play a key role in helping to reduce inflammation in the body. This is because it contains anti-inflammatory nutrients such as phenolic acids and vitamin E family nutrients. Experts believe many health problems including Crohn’s disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are linked to chronic inflammation. Eating quinoa on a regular basis is thought to promote healthy gut bacteria which is essential for preventing obesity, disease and inflammation.
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and therefore makes a great addition to any gluten-free diet. Its nutritional value makes it particularly important because many people eating gluten-free tend to miss out on essential nutrients. These include iron, folate and fibre to name a few. Adding quinoa to meals and snacks also helps to increase protein levels and health-boosting antioxidants.
One cup of quinoa contains 21% of the daily recommended intake of fibre. This is great news for your digestion. Better yet, quinoa is also easier to digest than other grains. One study published in the British Journal of Nutrition also found that participants reported feeling fuller after eating quinoa, than after eating rice or wheat.
Boosts heart health
Quinoa is an all-round heart-healthy grain. Not only does it lower cholesterol, research suggests it also contains many of the dietary flavonoids that are linked to the prevention of mortality from heart disease. Quinoa also contains lots of monounsaturated fats as well as omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for heart health. Although many foods lose their fatty acids when cooked, quinoa doesn’t.
Easy to cook
Quinoa is relatively easy to cook and it takes less time than most whole grains (around 12-15 minutes). Furthermore, while some grains tend to dry out when cooled, quinoa maintains a pleasant, chewy texture. This makes quinoa easy to incorporate into any diet. You can use it to prepare porridge, for example, or include it in your lunchtime salads.