Quinoa is a grain crop grown mainly for the edible and highly nutritious seeds that the plant produces. It is an interesting fact that The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) officially declared the year of 2013 to be recognised as "The International Year of the Quinoa" due to its high nutritional profile, biodiversity and contribution to worldwide food security.
Like many domesticated plant species, quinoa is available in several different colours and forms due to genetic and environmental adjustments. The seed can be found most commonly in white, red and black colours. There is no significant difference in nutritional value between different coloured versions, however they can play independent roles in enhancing the aesthetics of delicious dishes.
Quinoa has gained massive popularity in recent years among health circles due to its lack of gluten and abundance of proteins and healthy fatty acids. Let's take a closer look at some of the health benefits this super seed boasts.
Quinoa contains more fibre than most grains, making it a great replacement for them. The seed has been found to house between 10 and 16 grams of fibre per 100 grams. Although only 1.5 grams of this is soluble fibre, it still offers help maintaining a healthy bowl, a healthy weight and can lower cholesterol levels.
Amino acids are molecules that serve as the building blocks to protein in the human body. Quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce itself. It offers a rather large 8 grams of protein per cup.
Minerals are essential for many bodily functions and optimal health. Quinoa contains high levels of:
Magnesium: aids in protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, energy production.
Potassium: required for proper function of all bodily cells
Iron: fundamental component to blood and muscle cells
Zinc: supports normal growth, protein building and wound healing
These substances help to prevent DNA damage caused by free radicals by neutralising them. Quinoa has one of the highest antioxidant levels of many grains, cereals and legumes.