Quinoa dates back three to four thousand years ago when the Incas first realized that the quinoa seed was fit for human consumption.Inca warriors had more stamina and quicker recovery time by eating these quinoa seeds, making it a truly ancient power food.
Although referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed from a vegetable related to spinach and beets. Just like rice, quinoa comes in different colors and varieties. The most common is white, but there are also red and black.
Quinoa is now considered by many as “The Super-grain of the future”, and the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa".
While quinoa is growing in popularity and becoming better known throughout the world, many still do not understand the unique and significant health benefits that come from eating quinoa.
Health characteristics and benefits of Quinoa:
1. Quinoa is high in protein: its protein balance is similar to milk and has more protein compared to rice, millet or wheat. This super food contains all nine amino acids, making it a truly protein-rich food.
2. Quinoa contain heart healthy fats: monounsaturated fat, and omega-3 fatty acid
3. Quinoa is a source of Riboflavin B2, which make it recommended for migraine sufferers, since riboflavin helps reduce the frequency attacks of migraine by improving the energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells. Riboflavin also regulates and promotes energy production in the brain and muscle cells while increasing the metabolism.
4. Quinoa is antioxidant rich. Additionally, quinoa has a great deal of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients as well, which can promote tissue growth and aide in tissue repair as well as fight off disease and infection.
5. Quinoa is rich in essential minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium.
6. Quinoa is high in calcium in comparison to other grains in the same category. For example, quinoa has twice the amount of calcium as whole wheat when you compare the two, portion for portion.
7. Quinoa is packed with many vitamins including Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, E
8. Quinoa is rich in manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.
9. Quinoa is high in fiber and contains twice as much fiber as almost every other grain.
Fiber is an essential nutrient that regulates blood sugar levels and regulates your digestive system by preventing and relieving constipation.
10. Quinoa is a source of Iron. Iron helps keep your red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to your muscles to aid in their contraction.
11. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.
12. Quinoa has a low glycemic index
13. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.
14. Quinoa may lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL). The high fiber content of quinoa may help reduce cholesterol. Soluble fiber combines with bile acids to be excreted by the body and in turn, reduce total cholesterol and levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
15. Quinoa may reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, due to its fiber, protein and antioxidant content. The unusually high ratio of protein to carbohydrate explains quinoa's ability to help regulate blood sugar. The high soluble fiber content in Quinoa also helps control blood sugar and slows the breakdown of carbohydrates to glucose.
16. Quinoa may help control Blood Pressure. Quinoa has the highest potassium levels of all grains, a mineral essential for balancing sodium blood levels and maintaining lower blood pressure. Quinoa is also a rich source of magnesium, a vasodilator that helps to lower blood pressure.
17. Quinoa does contain oxalates, which puts it on the caution list for an oxalate-restricted diet.
Although Quinoa is highly nutritious, it is actually coated with the toxic chemical saponin which can be tough on the immune system and stomach. Commercial processing methods remove much of the bitter soapy saponins coating quinoa seeds, but it is best to rinse again the quinoa thoroughly to remove any of the powdery saponins that may remain on the seeds.
Christelle Bachi Gedeon
President of the Syndicate of dietitians
Eye & Ear Hospital -Naccach
For a healthy, balanced diet, cut down on foods and drinks containing added sugars.
These tips can help you cut down:
Instead of sugary soft drinks and juice drinks, go for water or unsweetened fruit juice (remember to dilute these for children, to further reduce the sugar).
If you like soft drinks, try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water.
Swap cakes or biscuits for a piece of fruit.
If you take sugar in hot drinks, or add sugar to your breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether, or try using a natural honey.
Rather than spreading jam or honey on your toast, try a low-fat spread, sliced banana or low-fat cream cheese instead.
Check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar, or go for the low-sugar version.
Try halving the sugar you use in your recipes. It works for most things except jam, meringues and ice-cream.
Choose tins of fruit in juice or water rather than syrup.
Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, but not those coated with sugar or honey.
Nutrition labels and sugars
Nutrition labels often tell you how much sugar a food contains. You can compare labels, and choose foods that are lower in sugar. You can tell if the food contains lots of added sugars by checking the ingredients list.
Sometimes you will see a figure for 'Carbohydrates', and not for sugar/s. The 'Carbohydrates' figure will also include starchy carbohydrates, so you can't use it to work out the sugar content. In this case, check the ingredients list to see if the food is high in added sugars.
You can get an idea of whether a food is high in added sugars by looking at the ingredients list. Added sugars must be included in the ingredients list, which always starts with the biggest ingredient. This means that if you see sugar near the top of the list, you know the food is likely to be high in added sugars.
Watch out for other words that are used to describe added sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolyzed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey.
Labels on the front of packaging
There are labels containing nutritional information on the front of some food packaging.
This includes the daily intake labeling, a voluntary front-of-pack labeling scheme adopted by the food and beverage industry to make it easier for consumers to make informed dietary choices. It provides a better view of whats in your food and drink.
The Daily Intake Guide is the presentation of ‘thumbnails' on a product's packaging, which indicate the amount per serve for energy and nutrients (protein, carbohydrate, sugars, fat, saturated fat and sodium) and the percentage of daily intake these represent per serve.
This labeling makes it easy for consumers to see the relationship between a serve of food and their daily requirements. In line with the Food Standards Code, the ‘daily intakes' in the thumbnails are based on those for an average adult diet of 8700KJ, including food and drink.
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