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Superfood Quinoa and Its Nutritional Benefits


What Is It?

A quick search on the internet reveals several facts of this grain crop which is grown primarily for its edible seeds.

Simply put, Quinoa, a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) is a pseudo cereal (that is their seeds can be ground into flour and consumed) rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family.

It is also closely related to species such as beetroot, spinach and tumbleweed which have shrub like growth.

Where Does It Grow?

It originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption and found its place into the humble Indian household (albeit being an upper middle class commodity).

It gained popularity and has been cultivated away from natural distribution in places like the United States, Australia and Japan to name a few.

What are the nutritional benefits?

Essential Amino Acids

Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and acceptable quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. A study showed that deficiency of essential amino acids leads to symptoms of nervousness, exhaustion, and dizziness to a greater or lesser extent and moderate consumption of Quinoa can help avoid such symptoms.


Quinoa consists of a unique combination of anti-inflammatory compounds that show to an extent the decreased risk of inflammation-related problems (including obesity) when animals under study are fed quinoa on a daily basis.

The list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa is now known to include:

  • Polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans
  • Hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids
  • Flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol which are found in concentrated levels often higher than those of high flavonoid berries like cranberry or ligonberry
  • Saponins including molecules derived from oleanic acid, hederagenin and serjanic acid.
  • Small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also provided by quinoa.

Gluten Free

It is high in protein and lacks gluten which is good news for those who suffer from Celiac disease which is an autoimmune disease attacking the small intestine due to the presence of gluten for which the only remedy is maintaining a gluten free diet. While scientists are yet to confirm whether oats are a gluten free food, it is safe to say that Quinoa, like amaranth, is gluten free and good for your health as it is considered easy to digest. Because of these characteristics, it is being considered a possible crop for long-duration human occupied space flights undertaken by NASA.

Super Food

The nutrient composition of Quinoa is favorable compared with common cereals earning the Quinoa grain the title of being called a “super food”.

Nutritional evaluations indicate that quinoa is a source of complete protein, that is, it contains all the essential amino acids required in a human diet in correct proportions.

Other similar pseudo grains derived from seeds are similar in complete protein levels; buckwheat is 18% protein compared to 14% for Quinoa; Amaranth, a related species to Quinoa, ranges from 12 to 17.5%.

High In Protein

The protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice (Indian rice) and oats.  In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid).

High In Fiber

The grain is additionally a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.

Vegan Friendly and Good For Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant

It is also a source of calcium, and thus, is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

Exactly How Does One Consume Quinoa?

The grain may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value, provided that the grains are rinsed thoroughly to remove any saponin that contains an unpalatable bitterness which in turn aids during cultivation as it wards off birds reducing the need for protecting it.

The seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

The good news is processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to significantly compromise the quality of quinoa’s fatty acids, allowing us to enjoy its cooked texture and flavor while maintaining this nutrient benefit.

The leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is limited. In some forms the seeds are softened making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

What Makes Quinoa Special?

While it may be called a “Pseudo-cereal” there is nothing fake about the health benefits of Quinoa. In fact, The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”

10 Super Foods that Should Be Part of Your Diet

mixed berries

In order to lead a healthy, happy and fulfilling life, you need to pay attention to your diet, as well.

With supplied with the necessary nutrients to function well, your body will reward you with great levels of energy, and you will not easily fall ill. It will also keep you in good health as the years go by.

If you think good foods are expensive or they are time consuming to prepare, you should think again. If you load your refrigerator and pantry only with healthy foods, you will never feel tempted to order take out. You will easily notice how healthy this habit will be for your wallet, too.

Start by getting rid of all the bad foods from your kitchen, and replace them with healthy alternatives.

What are super foods?

Super foods are foods rich in nutrients that are great for your body. Next time you go grocery shopping, take this list with you.


Fatty fish, like salmon, is rich in omega 3, which is a fatty acid with an essential role for maintaining your heart healthy. Studies show that people who eat salmon at least a couple of times each week have a lower risk of developing heart conditions.

Salmon is also rich in a particular substance named tryptophan. This regulates sleeping patterns, helping you get enough rest at night. Kids should also eat salmon, because it is great for promoting healthy brain development.

Your bones will also benefit from consuming salmon, as it is known to improve bone density.


Excluding fat completely from your diet is never a good thing. Replace bad fat with good fat that can be found in nuts and seeds. Among them, almonds are a real super food. The fat found in almonds regulates cholesterol levels and almonds are also great appetite suppressants. Rich in vitamin B, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium, they are packed with a lot of the nutrients your body needs.


You may feel the need to quirk an eyebrow when hearing about this one. Chocolate is, indeed, a super food, but to make the best of it, it must be dark chocolate, with a high content of cocoa. Rich in antioxidants, it helps you flush the toxins out with great ease. You are also advised to consume chocolate to reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Nonetheless, you should consume chocolate in moderate quantities.


The specific color of blueberries is given by a particular substance named anthocyanin. This is a powerful antioxidant, known to play an important role in preventing prostate cancer. Eating blueberries on a regular basis also reduces the risk of glaucoma.


One thing your body needs and needs plenty is fiber. Natural fiber can be found in beans, which is why you need to have enough of them throughout each week. Fiber is good for your colon, and also plays an active role in building muscles. Reducing bad cholesterol is also among its attributes, not to mention they are a cheap food anyone can afford.


A very good source of protein, eggs should not miss from your diet. For people who are exercising, eating eggs every day is highly recommended. It must also be noted that eggs are also rich in vitamin D, which contributes to the development of healthy, strong bones.


When choosing yogurt, pick Greek yogurt. This is rich in protein and good bacteria, essential for a strong, healthy body and for improving the immune system against disease.


Another great source of fiber is quinoa. These seeds are rich in iron, phosphorus and various amino-acids. People with anemia are often recommended to eat quinoa seeds. The leaves from the plant can also be eaten, but they are not so easy to find. You can add quinoa seeds to any salad for great taste and for increasing its nutritious value.


Broccoli is known as a great enemy of cancer. Loaded with antioxidants, broccoli can be served in various ways, from raw to steamed. Boiling is not recommended, because part of the vitamins can get lost in the process.

Sweet potatoes

This is another super food rich in fiber. Sweet potatoes also contain beta carotene, essential for good vision. They are rich in vitamin C, as well, and a diet containing them will help your body recovery and repair much easier.