Quinoa is a pseudo-grain from South America, and historically it was a staple food of the Incas. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has gained popularity in recent years, especially amongst those on gluten-free diets. This article discusses the health benefits and health dangers of Quinoa, as well as ideas for adding this superfood to your diet.
Health Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa is more nutritious than wheat or corn, and can easily replace both of these products in many recipes. A cup of Quinoa contains approximately 8 grams of protein, and is high in important nutrients such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Quinoa also contains amino acids, which are important for proper metabolic and immune functioning. Because Quinoa does not contain gluten, people who have a sensitivity to wheat, barley or oats may be able to consume Quinoa without any of the sluggishness or inflammation caused by products that contain gluten.
Health Dangers of Quinoa
Quinoa should not be consumed raw, as the saponin content of the skin can be mildly toxic. If Quinoa is consumed in very large portions, the oxalic acid content could cause gastrointestinal problems, and may contribute to the formation of kidney stones. The chance of this occurring with normal portion sizes is unlikely, so just be sure not to overdo it. And although Quinoa is gluten-free, the lectin content may still cause adverse reactions for some people who have celiac disease. Always keep in mind that the health benefits of Quinoa cannot make up for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle. Adding superfoods to your diet should be part of a holistic approach to bettering your health that includes balanced nutrition, reasonable exercise and stress management.
Ideas for Adding Quinoa to Your Diet
Adding Quinoa to your diet can be easy and delicious. Quinoa is usually sold as a dry grain, and can be cooked on the stove top or in a rice cooker. Quinoa is also available in processed forms such as Quinoa flakes or Quinoa flour. Read below for some ideas on adding Quinoa to your diet.
*In dishes that call for rice, use Quinoa instead
*Replace wheat or barley with Quinoa
*Make Quinoa pilaf by mixing chopped vegetables with cooked Quinoa
*Add Quinoa to soups. Click here for a Minestrone Soup recipe that includes Quinoa: http://www.cookingquinoa.net/minestrone-soup/
*Try Quinoa flakes for breakfast instead of oatmeal or cream of wheat (add organic brown sugar or local honey to improve the taste).
*Use cooked Quinoa as a nutritious salad topping
*Replace your all-purpose flour with Quinoa flour for gluten-free baked goods
*Add cooked Quinoa to stir-fry. See a Quinoa Stir-Fry recipe here: http://www.cookingquinoa.net/stirfryrecipes/
Purdue University; Center for New Crops and Plant Products; Quinoa; E.A. Oelke, D.H. Putnam, T.M. Teynor, and E.S. Oplinger; 1992
Quinoa News; The Saponin Content in Quinoa: Healthy or Toxic; 2008
Self; Nutrition Data; Nutrition Facts; Quinoa, cooked
The Owlcraft Company; Oxalic Acid and Foods
Whole 9; The Grain Manifesto