Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd) was believed to be a sacred grain. It is a pseudocereal and has been around for about 5000 years. It has been used as food grain and also for medicinal purposes. In Bolivia and Peru, quinoa has been under cultivation for thousands of years. The pre-Columbian Andean civilizations thought of quinoa as a sacred grain as the Incas considered it as a gift from Gods.
Traditionally quinoa was consumed after roasting and cooking, it was added to soups, fermented and made into beer. In recent times quinoa has become very well known for its health benefits and is being cultivated in more than 95 countries. It is being consumed for health purposes in countries such as North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, and India.
Nutritive value of quinoa
Many people call it a super food because of its nutritional value and the health benefits it provides. Though it is a grain unlike other cereals it provides complete protein, that is, it has all the essential amino acids needed by man.
Nutritional value of Quinoa (100gms)
|Dietary Fiber||7 gm|
USDA, Data Base
Quinoa protein quality is on par with milk protein and therefore superior to proteins from cereals such as rice and wheat. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chose quinoa to be one of the grains sent on space mission because of its nutritional value and versatility. It is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and folate.
The glycaemic index (GI) of quinoa differs based on cooking time, it ranges from 35 to 53. Quinoa can be considered as a low GI food. Also, quinoa is a good source of dietary fiber, therefore, is it good for people with diabetes.
Quinoa contains several phytochemicals or plant chemicals which have health-promoting benefits.
- Glycine betaine.
Saponin is the anti-nutritional factor present in quinoa. It can be reduced by washing, soaking, boiling of quinoa as saponin is a water-soluble component.
Quinoa as an antioxidant source
Quinoa is a good source of phenolics, majorly ferulic acid and quercetin. Quercetin in quinoa is more than what is present in cranberries which are considered to be a rich source of quercetin. These phenolic compounds exhibit antioxidant activity which prevents damage by free radicals.
Therapeutic effects of quinoa
Because of the fiber and bioactive compounds and absence of gluten quinoa has several therapeutic properties.
Quinoa reduces the risk of various diseases such as
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Type-2 diabetes
- Certain cancers (Quinoa exhibits antioxidant property)
- High blood pressure
- Celiac disease (Quinoa is gluten-free)
- Gastrointestinal issues
Quinoa can be easily incorporated into the diet. It can be cooked like rice and all the recipes made with rice can be made with quinoa. It can be added to salads, made into upma, added to vegetables. All you need is imagination and you can use the healthy quinoa in different ways. It can be grown under adverse climatic conditions also and can be used to combat malnutrition in underdeveloped countries.