By Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali
Quinoa is a flowering plant that belongs to the amaranth family. The primeval Andes wonder fit has been consumed for ages and served as a fuel for the ancient armies. This nutrition packed plant is considered to be a superfood by vegetarians and Athletes. This naturally Gluten-Free power loaded plant has been cultivated by people since approximately 3000 B.C.
One of the most fascinating facts about this marvel food is that the ancient Incas revered the plant, and considered it to be the mother of all the foods. The Multi-Ethnic Army famous for their hand to hand combat and remarkable strength used to rely on Quinoa to sustain their power. It was a custom that each year the commander in chief would plant the first Quinoa seed using a gold shovel, and the armies would then nurture the crops. The Incas would march for days, relying on a mixture of Quinoa and Fat, which they called ‘The War Balls’ (McEwan, 2006). Moreover, in the year 1993, NASA reported that Quinoa had a potential for CELSS because of its remarkable protein value (12-18%) and its distinctive amino acid configuration (Schlick and Bubenheim, 1993).
Technically, Quinoa is not a grain, but a plant with broad leaves that produces tiny little edible seeds. It is these tasty minuscule seeds that all the concern is about. Quinoa is easy to cook and highly nutritious. Quinoa can be easily found in any grocery or health store, it’s a staple food available in either red, white or black. One cup of Quinoa contains 8g of quality protein, 5g of fiber, Manganese (58% RDA), Magnesium (30% RDA), Folate (19% RDA), Phosphorous (28% RDA) and B vitamins (10% RDA), along with 222 calories and 39g of carbohydrates. According to a health study conducted by Ritva and others, the two famous flavonoids (plant antioxidants) called quercetin and kaempferol are significantly high in Quinoa as compared to other plant foods, such as cranberries (Repo-Carrasco-Valencia, et al., 2010). A number of health studies have proved that these significantly important flavonoids work as an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-depressant, and antiviral for the human body (Murakami, Ashida, and Terao, 2008; Hou, et al., 2010; Spedding, Ratty, and Middleton Jr, 1989). Another health benefit of eating this versatile and easy to prepare food is its high level of protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and nine of which are essential. However, the problem is that many plant foods are deficient in important amino acids, hence, their amino acid configuration is not sufficient. Nonetheless, a health study published by Koziol in the Journal of food composition and analysis proved that Quinoa is exceptional in this case because it has all of the nine essential amino acids, and its amino acid configuration is significantly superior as compared to all other plant foods (Koziol, 1992). Hence, Quinoa is the best source of protein and amino acids. Moreover, Quinoa is packed with important minerals and nutrients such as Iron, Folate, and Manganese which promotes blood formation prevents osteoporosis and synthesizes proteins, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. However, the presence of Phytic Acid reduces the absorption of these minerals, henceforth, you need to soak the Quinoa in water prior to cooking to make these minerals more bioavailable. A Health Study Published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods confirmed that Quinoa has the highest level of antioxidants as compared to other Andean Grains (Ranilla, et al., 2009). The antioxidants combat the free radicals in your body, which as a result slows down aging, and prevents many other diseases. No wonder the Incas revered this crop more valuable than gold. Another important feature of this wonder grain is that it has a very low glycemic index, which is correlated with reduced calorie ingestion (Roberts, 2000). Hence, keeping in mind its nutritional value and protein levels, Quinoa is the best bet for you, when you’re on a diet.
The Bottom Line is that Quinoa is highly rich in fiber, proteins, antioxidants, and it contains all the nine essential amino acids, and for this reason, it’s considered to be the healthiest food on the earth. It not only regulates your blood sugar levels, but it also regulates cholesterol levels and helps control weight. You can keep some pre-cooked Quinoa in your freezer to add to your post-workout meal, such as Baked Fish, Steaked Beef or Roasted Chicken. Cheers!
Hou, et al., 2010. Anti-depressant natural flavonols modulate BDNF and beta amyloid in neurons and hippocampus of double TgAD mice. Neuropharmacology, 58(6), pp.911-920.
Koziol, M., 1992. Chemical composition and nutritional evaluation of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.). Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 5, pp.35-68.
McEwan, G.F., 2006. The Incas: new perspectives. Abc-clio.
Murakami, A., Ashida, H. and Terao, J., 2008. Multitargeted cancer prevention by quercetin. Cancer letters, 269(2), pp.315-325.
Ranilla, et al., 2009. Evaluation of indigenous grains from the Peruvian Andean region for antidiabetes and antihypertension potential using in vitro methods. Journal of medicinal food, 12(4), pp.704-713.
Repo-Carrasco-Valencia, R., et al., 2010. Flavonoids and other phenolic compounds in Andean indigenous grains: Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), kañiwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule) and kiwicha (Amaranthus caudatus). Food Chemistry, 120(1), pp.128-133.
Roberts, S.B., 2000. High–glycemic index foods, hunger, and obesity: is there a connection?. Nutrition reviews, 58(6), pp.163-169.
Schlick, G. and Bubenheim, D.L., 1993. Quinoa: An emerging new crop with potential for CELSS. Available: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19940015664 (Accessed 7th July 2018).
Spedding, G., Ratty, A. and Middleton Jr, E., 1989. Inhibition of reverse transcriptases by flavonoids. Antiviral research, 12(2), pp.99-110.