Quinoa: benefits and harms

Image by Bernadette Wurzinger from Pixabay

Quinoa was the most important food of the Indians, along with corn and potatoes it served as the main food for the Incas. This cereal was called the “golden grain”. Today, quinoa is a common staple in our daily diet.

The history of quinoa in nutrition
Quinoa belongs to the amaranth family and is native to South America. The birthplace of this plant is Lake Titicaca.

The people of the Andes first began cultivating quinoa 3000 years ago. At that time, the plant was little known outside this area.

The Incas considered quinoa a sacred grain and called it “the mother of all seeds.” Conquistadors, on the other hand, treated quinoa as “food for the Indians”, despised it, and even destroyed entire fields, as they were of great religious importance to the Incas. The Spanish conquerors forced the Incas to grow wheat instead of the traditional quinoa.

In Slavic countries, this culture is also known as “rice quinoa”. Quinoa is now grown in Uruguay, Peru, and Bolivia, with 90% of the harvest supplied to the United States. This is one of the reasons for the relatively high cost of quinoa in other countries – in them, it is rarer.

The UN General Assembly has declared 2013 the year of quinoa. In this way, they wanted to draw the world’s attention to the important role of this crop, as well as the tremendous work of the indigenous peoples of the Andes, who were able to preserve quinoa.

The benefits of quinoa
Quinoa differs from other grains in that it is a high protein source. Some varieties can contain up to 20% protein, while, for example, rice is only 7%. Moreover, quinoa contains many types of different amino acids – up to 20 variants. The protein in this cereal is close to milk proteins in its composition. This important element is necessary as a building material for the body, especially for children and pregnant women. Quinoa is a nutritious cereal that keeps you feeling full for a long time.

This plant contains a lot of lysines, which are necessary for the absorption of calcium. Wheat and rice, for example, have much less lysine.
Quinoa also contains fats, carbohydrates, fiber, which improve digestion and nourish the intestinal microflora. Quinoa contains many B vitamins, trace elements, especially phosphorus (3 times more than in rice and not less than in fish), iron, calcium, and zinc.

Caloric content per 100 grams 386 kcal
Proteins 14.1 g
Fat 6.1 g
Carbohydrates 57.2 g

Quinoa harm
Quinoa should be consumed in moderation. Grains contain oxalates (oxalic acid), so overeating can cause kidney dysfunction and worsen gout. Quinoa must be soaked before consumption, as the cereal contains toxins that are washed out during processing.

The use of quinoa in medicine
The popularity of quinoa in the United States and Western Europe is due to the increased attention of adherents of a healthy diet to this plant. In the 2000s, US imports of quinoa increased tenfold.

In the modern world, celiac and Crohn’s disease are relatively common, in which gluten intolerance develops. It is found in most cereals, but quinoa does not have it, so it can be used to feed people with these conditions.

Also, this culture is considered a good general tonic, excellently replenishing the energy supply of active people. Quinoa helps speed up recovery from illness and surgery.

In cosmetology, quinoa is used as a scrub that effectively exfoliates the skin.

The use of quinoa in cooking
Quinoa is a fairly versatile cereal; it can be eaten as an independent dish, added to soup or salad, making flour and baking pies and bread. The taste is quite neutral, reminiscent of wild rice.

It is important to rinse the quinoa before cooking, otherwise, the dish will taste bitter. Stir the cereals while cooking.

How to choose and store quinoa?
Choose cereals in transparent packaging so you can see the contents. Quinoa has a homogeneous structure, there should be no crushed seeds or pests.

Groats are stored in a glass or plastic jar in a dark place at room temperature. It’s important to avoid moisture and strong foreign odors that quinoa can absorb.

Under the right conditions, quinoa can last up to a year.


4 thoughts on “Quinoa: benefits and harms”

  1. I like to think of quinoa as a side dish to a substantial meal? Is that correct in your estimation? I like the texture of it similar to our southern grits.

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