Quinoa and Your Health

Nutrition benefits

Quinoa

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Most people in the U.S. don’t know anything about the health benefits of quinoa.  One would think a plant that packs such a wealth of nutrition, one that was prized above gold by the Incas, and one that has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for more than 5,000 years would have some recognition of the quinoa health benefits.

 

Benefits of Quinoa Realized

The fact is that quinoa has been a main staple for modern day native Andeans as it was for the Incas. Such import was put on the plant that when the Spanish conquistadors tried to control and extinguish the Inca civilization they burnt all the quinoa fields and made it a capital crime to grow it punishable by death.   About 25 years ago a couple of Americans visiting Peru understood the nutritional value of quinoa and brought some back to Colorado and started US production.  The exciting surprise was the cross pollination that occurred with lamb’s-quarter, (a North American ancestor), produced a superior strain that was heartier and less quirky to grow.

 

 

Quinoa

Quinoa and Taste

Flash to present day worldwide where the Western way of eating has caught on almost everywhere along with the illness trends that come along with it.  More and more the concept that what we eat is lowering our life expectancy and increasing the scope of illness is really starting to sink in.   Today more people are flying the whole grains, lower fats, and natural food flags.  Stress on eating healthy is starting to take over mainstream media and people are looking for the foods that will not only taste good but keep them alive and healthy.  There is further to go but the stage is set for world cultures to learn about the quinoa health benefits; and what a boon this one is turning out to be.

Quinoa and Nutrition

There are fewer carbohydrates and calories in quinoa than in other whole grains.  And, quionoa contains every essential amino-acid that the body needs. Amino-acids are the material that our bodies cells are made of, what they need to rebuild and strengthen, and by the way, what almost all processed foods are lacking.  The levels of omega 3 fatty acids are high in quinoa, along with calcium, phosphorus, folate, potassium, and lysine.

One other of the benefits of quinoa is it doesn’t contain as much protein as some other whole grains but that protein is 90% digestible.  The way most grain based foods are processed cuts down the protein digestion to ranges of 20% to 50%.  The nutritional components and other whole grains are vital to our wellbeing in numerous ways that include dealing with migraine headaches, cardiovascular health, inflammation, toxic load, energy levels, and various cancers.

Quinoa

Total Health Benefits of Quinoa

Thought to be a blood oxygenator as well, quinoa may be the most nutritionally dense plant on the planet .  I have been using the term whole grains here, but the fact is that quinoa is not, strictly speaking, a grain at all but a seed.  Quinoa is actually a broad leaf plant that carries a dense cluster of seeds at the flower head.  The other plant parts are quite usable for food as well from the leaves, immature seeds to the pods. Quinoa is a relative of chard, spinach, and kale and so carries the same high nutrient benefits of these dark leafy green plants.

Cooking Quinoa

Preparing quinoa requires one thing consistently regardless of the dish or method of cooking.  Due to the plant’s self-protection method of a bitter saphonin coating that puts off bugs and birds the seeds have to be rinsed off before cooking, (unless you like bitter food).  Rinsing the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer or a clean dish towel until the light foam clears takes just a few minutes.  It is recommended that you even to this to pre-packaged seeds as well.  The alternative may be a bitter surprise. The quinoa seed may be steamed or fried just like rice, (and is much less likely to overcook as rice can).  If you have a good grain grinder/processor you can make a very healthy flour for baking or coating.

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The Colorado strain of black quinoa has a richer flavor of whole grain that we are used to whereas the South American cousin tastes flat in comparison.  Either type however blends well with other culinary ingredients to make savory dishes as well as fruit enhanced sweeter offerings.  The nutrition is the big thing here anyway.

In our fight to stay alive and healthy quinoa will gain in notoriety and importance.  The list of innovative uses for this “mother seed,” as the Incas called it, is growing and will be a major player in the nutritional arsenal.

 

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