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Quinoa is one of the most consumed superfoods in the world. Known for its many health benefits, it comes packed with several nutritional values. Available in an array of colors, including red, yellow, black, and white, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is gluten-free and one of the few plants that contain all nine essential amino acids. It has a nutty taste and can be eaten as you would white rice – in stir-fries, stuffed in veggie burgers, or as a side dish. Quinoa cooks quickly and can even be added to oatmeal. However you choose to eat this tasty food, here are some of the potential benefits you stand to reap.

Quinoa Is Good for Gut Health

Quinoa is fiber-rich and also contains resistant starches. While these are known to cause flatulence, regular intake of fiber and starches promotes a healthy gut bacteria population. In turn, this promotes the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract.

In other words, eating quinoa will help you have more success in the bathroom. Just one cup of cooked quinoa supplies up to five grams of insoluble fiber, meaning you can say goodbye to constipation.

The other good thing about fiber is that it promotes satiety, which means you will feel so full you won’t be able to eat anything else for several hours.

Quinoa Is Protein Rich

Protein is the primary ingredient in quinoa, and as we all know, protein is essential for muscle growth and recovery, brain function, and overall health. What sets quinoa apart from other protein-rich foods is that it is jam-packed with the nine amino acids (also known as essential) since your body cannot produce them.

That’s why quinoa is referred to as a complete protein. With eight grams of protein per cup, quinoa has been found to contain more quality protein than any other plant-based protein source. 

Quinoa Is Gluten-Free

People with gluten intolerance can enjoy eating quinoa since it’s naturally gluten-free. It is said that about a third of the American population is trying to avoid or minimize gluten. Eating a gluten-free diet is healthy as long as the foods are naturally gluten-free. The problem starts when people start eating gluten-free foods made with refined starches.

Quinoa is a healthier option for people looking for a gluten-free diet since it’s also a good source of nutrients and antioxidants. While you can opt for gluten-free substitutes like refined rice, corn, potato, and tapioca flour, quinoa beats them all, hands-down, in terms of nutritional value.

Quinoa Contains Quercetin and Kaempferol

Foods not only supply vitamins and minerals. There are trace nutrients that can be highly beneficial as well. However, not many foods contain flavonoids – plant antioxidants – which are extremely healthy.

Quinoa naturally contains two flavonoids – quercetin and kaempferol, which have been shown to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer effects on animal studies. Adding quinoa to your meals ensures that you get these highly significant nutrients that can boost your overall health.

Quinoa May Aid in Weight Loss

Many people worldwide are struggling with weight loss and management. One enemy in the fight against excess weight is calories, and it can be quite a challenge to keep track of how many calories you take in a day.

The good news is that quinoa has certain properties that can promote weight loss. For starters, the high protein content in quinoa means that it feels you up quickly and leaves you feeling full for longer. This means that you won’t crave unhealthy snacks in between meals. Additionally, since quinoa is gluten-free, it can boost metabolism and reduce appetite.

What’s more, quinoa is fiber-rich, meaning it increases feelings of fullness, making you eat fewer calories than if you were eating, say, meat. Another reason that gives quinoa weight loss capabilities is that it has a low glycemic index, which helps to control spikes in blood sugar.

Quinoa Is Nutrient-Rich

Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal, grown for its edible seeds. This nutrient-dense food has a total of 222 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates, and four grams of fat. Just one cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa packs:

  • Five grams of fiber.
  • Eight grams of protein.
  • 30 percent of the RDA for magnesium.
  • 58 percent of the RDA for Manganese.
  • 15 percent of the RDA for iron.
  • 13 percent of the RDA for zinc.
  • Around 10 percent of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2, and B6.
  • 28 percent of the RDA for phosphorous.
  • 19 percent of the RDA for folate.

It also contains small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, niacin (B3), calcium, and vitamin E. As you can see, this is a highly nutritious plant that even NASA scientists have considered growing in outer space as a way to naturally get all the essential nutrients.

All images by Shutterstock

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