Seeds and Cereals

Quinoa Health Benefits

Quinoa is one of the most popular health foods in the world. It is gluten-free, high in protein, and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids.

It is also rich in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, phosphorus and several beneficial antioxidants.

Ancient grains are referred to as such because they remained virtually unchanged for hundreds or thousands of years. Quinoa was known by the Incas as “the mother of all grains” and was first cultivated over 5,000 years ago.

Although there are hundreds of cultivated types of quinoa, the most common versions found in stores are white, red and black quinoa.

Here is some relevant information about quinoa that will be exposed in more detail throughout the text.

  • Quinoa helps prevent a number of health conditions;
  • Quinoa is relatively high in antioxidants compared to other grains;
  • In botany, quinoa is not a real grain;
  • Quinoa has been cultivated for thousands of years;
  • It can be prepared in just 15 minutes;
  • Quinoa has a naturally bitter coating called saponin, which is used as an insecticide;
  • There are many ways quinoa can be included in your diet;


  • Very Nutritious – Quinoa is a grain crop that is grown for its edible seeds. Technically it’s not a cereal grain, but a pseudocereal. In other words, it is basically a “seed” that is prepared and eaten in a similar way to a grain. Quinoa was an important food for the Inca Empire. They referred to her as the “mother of all grains” and believed she was sacred. It has been consumed for thousands of years in South America, although it has only become modern and fallen into a “state of grace” recently.
  • Contains the plant compounds Quercetin and Kaempferol – There are thousands of nutrients, some of which are extremely healthy. This includes interesting molecules called flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial health effects. Two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied are quercetin and kaempferol, and they are found in large amounts in quinoa.
  • More fiber than most grains – Another important benefit of quinoa is that it’s high in fiber. A study that looked at 4 quinoa varieties found a range of 10 to 16 grams of fiber per 100 grams. This equals 17-27 grams per cup, which is considered high, more than double that of most grains. Boiled quinoa contains much less fiber, gram for gram, because it absorbs a lot of water.
  • High Protein, With All Essential Amino Acids – Protein is made up of amino acids. Some are called “essentials”, as it is not possible to produce them and we need to take them off the diet. If a food has all the essential amino acids, it is seen as a “complete” protein.
  • It has a low glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar control. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. It is known that eating foods that are high in the glycemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity. Such foods have also been linked to many of the chronic and Western diseases that are so common today, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Quinoa has a glycemic index of 53, which is considered low. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s still quite high in carbs, so it’s not a good choice for a low carb diet.
  • High in important minerals like iron and magnesium – There are many nutrients in the modern diet that people tend to lack. This is true of some minerals, especially magnesium, potassium, zinc and (for women) iron. Interestingly, quinoa is very high in all 4 minerals. It’s mostly high in magnesium.
  • Has beneficial effects on metabolic health – Given the large amount of beneficial nutrients, it makes sense that quinoa could lead to improvements in metabolic health. The human study found that using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free breads and pastas significantly lowered blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels.
  • Lots of Antioxidants – Quinoa is also very high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight aging and many diseases. One study looked at antioxidants in 10 foods: 5 cereals, 3 pseudocereals and 2 legumes. Quinoa had the highest antioxidant content of all 10.
  • It can help you lose weight – In order to lose weight, we need to absorb fewer calories than usual. It is known that certain properties of foods can facilitate this process, either by increasing metabolism (increasing calories) or reducing appetite (decreasing calories). Interestingly, quinoa has several of these properties. It is rich in protein, which can increase metabolism and significantly reduce appetite.
  • Easy to incorporate into diet – The latter is not a health benefit, but it is still incredibly important. It’s the fact that quinoa is so easy to incorporate into your diet. It’s also tasty and goes well with many foods.


Its scientific name is Chenopodium quinoa , from the Amaranthaceae family . The small flakes you know as quinoa are seeds of the Chenopodium quinoa plant, a broad-leaved plant that produces seeds instead of fruit. Unlike real grains such as wheat and barley, which grow on grasses, quinoa plants grow edible seeds.

While most of us are used to seeing the most common white quinoa, there are about 120 varieties worldwide.

Quinoa provides a greater amount of antioxidants than other common grains used in a gluten free diet. Most gluten free products consist of corn, rice or potato flour and lack the nutrients that products incorporating quinoa can provide.

Pseudocereal seeds can be ground into flour, just like other grains and cereals.

However, nutritionally, quinoa is considered a whole grain. Whole grains include the entire seed of intact grains without removing any of its parts.

Consuming 2-3 servings of whole foods a day can reduce the risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Colon Cancer and Obesity. Many studies have shown that as your whole grain intake increases, your risk for all 5 of these lifestyle-related conditions decreases. It is recommended the consumption of 48 grams of whole grains per day for great benefits to human health.


This is the nutrient content in 1 cup (185 grams). This applies to cooked quinoa:

  • Protein:  8 grams;
  • Fiber:  5 grams;
  • Manganese:  58%;
  • Magnesium:  30%;
  • Phosphorus:  28%;
  • Folate:  19%;
  • Copper:  18%;
  • Iron:  15%;
  • Zinc:  13%;
  • Potassium:  9%;
  • More than 10% for vitamins B1, B2 and B6;
  • Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E;


Today, you can buy quinoa and products made from it all over the world, especially in health food stores, supermarkets and restaurants that emphasize natural foods, at very attractive prices.

Depending on the type of quinoa, it may be important to rinse with water to get rid of saponins, which are found in the outer layer and can have a bitter taste.

However, some brands have already been rinsed, so this may not be necessary.

Quinoa can be ready to eat in just 15-20 minutes:

  • Put 2 cups of water in a pot and turn up the heat.
  • Add 1 cup of raw quinoa, with a splash of salt.
  • Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • After this process she will be ready to eat.

When it absorbs most of the water, quinoa should have a spongy texture. If done right, it will have a smooth, satisfying nutty taste.


It’s easy to incorporate quinoa into your diet, just use it in place of rice in any recipe. Its small beans cook in just 15 minutes.

Quinoa has a subtle nutty flavor that makes it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It can be used in baking or as a flakes for breakfast.

It also works well on hot dishes, cold salads and even hamburgers.


First, it is important to know that:

White Quinoa  – This is the best-selling quinoa variety, and it takes the least amount of time to cook. It is sometimes known as ivory quinoa.

Red Quinoa   – Because it doesn’t lose its shape easily, cooks prefer to use this type of quinoa in cold salads or other recipes where the texture of a distinct grain is preferred.

Black Quinoa  – The flavor of black quinoa is different from the white and red varieties, with an earthy and sweet flavor profile. It takes longer to cook, needing about 15-20 minutes to be completely done.


Preparation Time: 20 minutes.

Cooking: 45 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Calories: 522

This dinner packs 7 grams of fiber and 48 grams of belly-wracking protein in each serving, plus sustains you.

Ingredients:  white quinoa, low-sodium chicken stock, green beans, boneless chicken breast, salt, black pepper, parsley leaves, mint leaves, lemon, lemon juice, black olives, oil.

How to make:

Preheat oven to 176ºC. Place the quinoa in the base of the oven. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the chicken stock over medium heat. Pour over quinoa. Cover and bake for 10 minutes. Stir the quinoa, add the chicken and beans and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover plate tightly with foil and bake until quinoa is tender and chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Make gremolata: In a bowl, combine parsley, mint, lemon juice, lemon, olives and oil until well combined. Divide chicken and quinoa between 4 dishes. Place the gremolata over them and serve.


It is possible to have a food allergy to quinoa. Common symptoms of this allergy would be stomach pain and itchy skin.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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