It is known almost all over the world as quinoa or quinoa and has become the pseudoscientific so-called “superfoods”. Its expansion throughout the world has been rapid and vertiginous, since until a few years ago, not much was known about its properties in different continents nor was it present in the diet that many users practice.
With the scientific contribution, today we can know the properties of quinoa based on a study of its nutritional composition, antioxidants, phytocomponents and its impact on human health.
Is it advisable to take quinoa for personal gain? Let’s try to explain what the scientific community says.
History of quinoa
Although the consumer craze has been very recent, quinoa seeds and the plant Chenopodium quinoa it has been in use for thousands of years. Many studies date the presence of this plant to about 4,000 years ago, geographically located between Chile, Bolivia and Peru.
However, archaeological studies have found fossilized remains of this plant and may be about 7,000 years old.
It all started about 4,000 years ago in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia and Chile, where humans had domesticated it for consumption. However, archaeological evidence says that quinoa originated about 7,000 years ago.
For initial contact, say that the properties of quinoa are based from the point of view of its nutritional composition. As a fact, say that it is the only plant food that can provide all the essential amino acids, vitamins and trace elements, without containing gluten.
Although the properties of quinoa are practically very similar, there are different varieties that have a different cooking and conservation behavior. Therefore, depending on the recipe we are going to prepare, we can use a different type of this seed.
The most common variety of quinoa and that we can easily find in any type of supermarket
It is a hybrid between white quinoa and spinach. It has a somewhat more earthy flavor and a somewhat more crunchy texture once it has been cooked.
It has a slightly higher lithium content, so it may have properties more adapted to athletes or to decrease depression.
red quinoa retains its shape after cooking a little better than white quinoa, making it more suitable for recipes such as cold salads, where a distinct grain is particularly desirable.
The red one has a slightly lower percentage in fat than the white one, but almost insignificant.
List of properties of quinoa
We are going to study its nutritional composition, since from it we can clarify many doubts as to its benefits. We are looking for a food low in saturated fat, high in fiber and, of course, with a high vitamin index and with the contribution of a large part of the essential amino acids.
Very balanced nutritional composition
Nutritional characteristics for a serving of 185 grams
- Energy: 220 kcal (11% CDR)
- Carbohydrates: 39.4 g (13% RDA)
- Fat: 3.6 g (5% RDA)
- Protein: 8.1 g (16% RDA)
- Dietary fiber: 5.2 g (21% RDA)
We have before us a product low in fat, with a fairly high protein index and fundamentally interesting for its contribution in dietary fiber of vegetable origin.
The volume of cholesterol provided is 0 mg, containing fats considered healthy (provide omega 3 and omega 6).
But what about the vitamins provided and minerals?
Let’s study the properties of quinoa based on these 2 nutritional facts.
Ratio of vitamins for a serving of 185 grams
|Composition||Concentration||Recommended Daily Amount|
|Vitamin E||1.2 mg||6%|
|Vitamin B6||0.2 mg||11%|
Ratio of minerals for a ration of 185 Grams
- Calcium: 31.5 mg (3% RDA)
- Iron: 2.8 mg (15% RDA)
- Magnesium: 118 mg (30% RDA)
- Phosphorus: 281 mg (28% RDA)
- Potassium: 318 mg (9% RDA)
- Zinc: 2 mg (13% RDA)
- Copper: 0.4 mg (18% RDA)
- Manganese: 1.2 mg (58% RDA)
- Selenium: 5.2 μg (7% RDA)
Quinoa stands out mainly for its high amount of magnesium (it offers a good response in diabetic people and with hypertension), and iron, which makes these seeds a food indicated for people suffering from anemia.
The properties of quinoa contain powerful antioxidant flavonoids
One of the great pursuits of the scientific community is foods that contain high concentrations of antioxidants.
From them, many flavonoids and substances from vegetables can be synthesized that can be used as medicines and medical supplements.
Therefore, the properties of quinoa would go beyond a simple balanced nutritional composition.
In quinoa, we found a very positive gradient of flavonoids, whose benefits have been demonstrated in more than one study by the scientific community.
Among them, we find 2 in quinoa very important, such as the kaempferol and the quercetin. [Study]
Quercetin can also be found in the Blueberries, although in lower concentrations, and these fruits are currently being studied for their also great antioxidant properties.
For example, at the University of California, scientific studies have been carried out where they selected a sample size of the population that ingested foods rich in this type of antioxidants (vegetables and fruits) against control, developing a protective effect against lung cancer. [Study]
You may be interested in: one of the foods with the highest content of the antioxidant quercetin is onion.
High in digestive fiber
Every day we can read news with scientific rigor where we are invited to consume more fiber, since most of the Western population is well below the minimum consumption recommendations.
Starting from this and looking for foods with fiber content, we can find this compound in the properties of quinoa.
As we have seen in the nutritional table, one serving was equivalent to more than 20% of the recommended amount of fiber, a not insignificant value that must be supplemented with other foods (especially cereals).
However, one of the big problems with quinoa is that most of its fiber is insoluble, so there was initially discussion about its interest if it could not be digested in the stomach.
On the other hand, that it is initially insoluble in the stomach does not mean that it is not 100% usable. The University of Granada has found an even more positive effect on antioxidant and fiber-rich juices, even in the one that is insoluble.
According to the researchers, in the large intestine we have millions of microorganisms that are able to digest it, ferment it and extract even more its antioxidant and fiber content.
As for soluble fiber, we find in the properties of quinoa about 2.5 grams per serving of 100 grams.
This fiber has beneficial properties for the body from any point of view, as it helps us reduce cholesterol, control sugar levels, lose weight and prevent different types of digestive cancers. [Study]
Properties of quinoa for gluten-free diets
One of the great peculiarities that has the properties of quinoa is that it does not provide gluten. Therefore, and with such a vertiginous population growth and increasingly with digestive sensitivity, we have to look for foods, such as quinoa, that allow a consumption of starches without containing gluten.
In the United States, about 1/3 of the population(it is said soon) is already mentalized with a lower food consumption containing gluten.
In people who have a high affinity for gluten-rich foods, such as bread, pastries, and pasta (triticale cereal genus), quinoa can be a great alternative for the group of celiac people.
In Spain, 1 in 100 people is celiac, although the problem is that 6 out of 7 are still not correctly diagnosed
Low glycemic index, specially designed for diabetics
People with different types of diabetes need to specifically control the food they eat. Among them, we must look for those that do not produce notable alterations in the glycemic index, to avoid sugar peaks or significant decreases, not at all recommended.
Those breaths that have a high impact on the glycemic index can cause an increase in body weight, since they favor the appetite and the need to increase the caloric index.
The University of Sydney tells us that the glycemic index of quinoa is 53, so it is considered a low-GI food. Foods below 55 are considered as low. Between 56 and 69 as medium and greater than 70 as high.
Foods with high GI (> 70):
- White bread
- Processed cereals, instant oats and corn.
- White rice
May help control body weight
When we say that a food can help us reduce body weight we are looking for those that, do not provide excessive calories, satiate us much more than others rich in saturated fats and proteins.
The main protagonist of this type of food is fiber, with a very high satiating power but with less content of lipids or carbohydrates.
This, together with moderate physical activity and the increase of other foods rich in fiber will achieve the goal of reducing body weight, limiting food anxiety and appetite. [Study]
Recipes with quinoa
For those people who want to introduce the properties of quinoa into their diet for the first time, they may find that they do not know how to apply it in their traditional diet.
Therefore, we give you some tips on how to prepare different recipes with quinoa and increase our daily fiber intake, which increasingly warns us that it is in insufficient quantities.
An easy way to take advantage of the properties of quinoa, since this supermarket is present in almost every city, small and large. You can now access to buy quinoa in Mercadona. We can buy different presentations, although a very common one is that of Brillante, similar to how rice (or brown rice) is packaged and prepared to directly introduce it into the microwave.
Each pazk includes 2 packs of 125 g, with red quinoa and white quinoa. It is pricked on the lid and introduced into the microwave, cooked on its own steam.
The price of quinoa in Mercadona is around € 1.30 / pack of 2.
One of the most classic, easy and quick ways to introduce quinoa. Often, many of these salads contain nuts, chickpeas, raisins, and even fruits.
With this idea in mind, introducing pre-prepared quinoa is extremely easy. As it does not provide an additional flavor, but it is more a neutral complement, you can provide it to your salads (regardless of the ingredients they contain) without major difficulties.
When we prepare a hamburger from minced meat, we can introduce practically whatever we want. It is known the mixture of onion, parsley and other spices. That meat can also be mixed with quinoa to change the texture of the meat and increase its juiciness.
This burger can be complemented with avocado, hummus or any other sauce that we have previously prepared.
Do you know more properties of quinoa for our body?