Quinoa is a seed that is rich in amino acids and protein that has a fluffy texture and nutty flavour when cooked. Though not a common household food item, quinoa is becoming more and more popular as it gains prominence as a "superfood."
Most commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a green leafy vegetable that is similar to spinach and once considered the "Gold of the Incas" because of it's nutrient-dense composition that allowed their warriors to maintain strength and stamina. It has been cultivated high up in the Andean mountains in the regions of Peru, Chile and Bolivia for over 5,000 years.
Quinoa is a complete well-balanced protein, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. This superfood is also a great source of fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, plant sterols and the minerals magnesium, copper, iron and phosphorus.
Helps with Migraines. Quinoa is rich in magnesium which helps to soothe blood vessels that prevents constriction. Magnesium has been shown to help reduce the frequency of headaches.
Better Cardiovascular Health. Low levels of magnesium can decrease hypertension and heart arrhythmias and is a great food for anyone concerned about atherosclerosis. A diet rich in whole grains can also normalize high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Antioxidant Protection. Quinoa is high in manganese and copper, two minerals that are cofactors in superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant that protect the mitochondria from free radical damage.
Protection Against Breast Cancer. A study involving 35,792 women in the UK found that a diet rich in fiber and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. By eating more than 30 grams daily of fiber, the women decreased their risk of breast cancer by 52% compared to women that ate less than 20 grams a day.
Gallstone Prevention. A fiber-rich diet can help women avoid gallstones according to a study published in American Journal of Gastroenterology. They studied 69,000 nurses and found that those who consumed the most fiber had a 13% lower risk of developing gallstones than those who ate the fewest fiber-rich foods.
It's recommended that we enjoy at least 3 servings a day of whole grains to lower cardiovascular risk, obesity and type 2 diabetes. You can find it year round in your local supermarket or natural food store. Once cooked, use it as a replacement to rice or sprinkle onto your porridge, salads, pastas, and soups.