by Sarah G. Mason
This hard-to-say, easy-to-eat “grain” is more than meets the eye. Quinoa has been coined the “Supergrain of the Future,” and for good reason. Though not actually a grain at all, this little seed’s health benefits are comparable to such, and they pack quite a punch.
With 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup dry quinoa, this grain-like seed is one of the richest sources of protein we can eat. But quinoa is more than just protein-rich; it’s a “complete protein,” meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. As if that wasn’t enough, according to the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, the minerals in quinoa work as cofactors in antioxidant enzymes, adding an even higher value to its already powerful proteins. Talk about one supercharged seed.
Maybe you’ve never heard of lysine, riboflavin, or manganese, but take my word for it; they play a very important role in our health. Of course, our new favorite super-seed contains all three. Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning that it’s necessary for human health, but our bodies can’t manufacture it. Riboflavin, better known as B2, is best known for its role in increasing energy levels, boosting immune system functioning, slowing aging, increasing athletic performance, and the list goes on. Last, manganese is an antioxidant which helps prevent the damage of mitochondria during energy production, and also helps anemia, arthritis, and PMS symptoms. Since most processed grains lack these essential elements, quinoa comes to the rescue.
Of course, quinoa wouldn’t be a superfood without fiber. Fiber is essential to our diet and is associated with improved bowel health, lowered cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease and colon cancer, and improved blood sugar levels, among other things. As it turns out, one serving of quinoa contains twice as much fiber as other, normal grains. According to Functional Foods: Biochemical & Processing
Aspects, “Quinoa seed is listed among the best natural sources of fiber. […] The health benefits of quinoa, including the prevention and treatment of diseases, have been known for a long time.”
Though the ancient Inca people—quinoa’s discoverers—might have known about this superfood’s amazing qualities, many of us are only just learning. Gluten-free, calcium rich, and with 10% daily value for iron, it’s hard to beat this amazing seed.