Quinoa: Contraindications, Benefits, and How to Take in Diet

Consumed in the Andes region, quinoa is considered a pseudo cereal. That is, it has the same nutrients as “real” grains such as rice and wheat, but its planting and growing characteristics are different.

Main nutrients in quinoa

It is a food of high biologist value , that is, it has all the essential amino acids that our body needs to function properly.

It is also a source of calcium , iron, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids . Like any cereal, it is very rich in fiber, thus being a great source of carbohydrates. On the other hand, it has significant amounts of B vitamins.

Composition of quinoa per 100 grams
Calories (kcal) 336
Carbohydrates (g) 68.3
Protein (g) 12.1
Lipids (g) 6.1
Water (g) 10.8
Phosphorus (mg) 302
Calcium (mg) 107
Fibers (g) 6.8
Iron (mg) 5.2
Thiamin (mg) 1.5
Niacin (mg) 1.2
Riboflavin (mg) 0.3
Ascorbic acid (mg) 1.1

8 Benefits of Quinoa

Packed with protein, great for muscles

It is one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom . Our body depends on a number of amino acids (the protein-building compounds) to function properly, and many of them are only achieved through diet. This has all the essential amino acids and therefore is a food of high biological value. Following the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), quinoa is a protein source comparable to milk .

To understand the amounts, each 100 grs. They have 12 g of protein, an amount greater than that found in soybeans, wheat, rice and oats, but less than that found in chia. Compared to milk, it averages 9 g of protein per 100 grams, but it’s 150 calories versus 336 for quinoa. Proteins play an important role in the formation of muscles and in maintaining the health of muscle tissue , with the function of repairing the micro-injuries that usually occur in the muscles when some type of physical activity is practiced.

Avoid cardiovascular diseases

This seed also beats other grains when it comes to the amount of fat – 6.1 g of lipids in 100 g of quinoa, 1.5 g in wheat and 1.0 g in soybeans, for example. These fats are omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, beneficial for the body , helping mainly in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

study carried out by the Marilia University of Technology in Sao Paulo , found that after 30 days of ingestion of said seed in the form of cereal bars it is already possible to notice a reduction in cholesterol and total triglycerides, which has positive effects on the heart . The results were published in June 2012 in the journal Food Science and Technology.

The grain with the most iron

It is the grain that has the highest iron content (10.9 g per 100 grams), only surpassed by amaranth (17.4 g per 100 grams), but with the advantage of being much lower in calories. To better understand what this figure means, nutritionists explain that it has about 550 times more iron than beans. However, it is important to note that the iron in this plant is not as easily absorbed by the body as it is in meat . A good tip to increase the absorption of this type of iron is the consumption of citrus fruits , such as oranges, since vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron.

Protect bones

Experts say that quinoa has about 66 g of calcium per 100 grams, an amount greater than rice, wheat, rye, barley and beans, but less than oats , corn, soybeans, flax seeds , amaranth and chia, which is the grain is richest in calcium. It should be taken into account that the greatest source of calcium is dairy products, since they have fewer calories than grain and can be consumed in large quantities. However, nothing prevents it from being an ally in the fight against diseases such as osteoporosis .

It is important that you check the “harmful” effects of calcium from dairy products on the human body , since you probably do not know it.

Give strength in diets

Being a good source of fiber, it stimulates chewing and decreases gastric emptying, helping satiety. Fibers take longer than carbohydrates to be converted into glucose, preventing insulin spikes and delaying hunger.

Vitamins for the brain

Although it has vitamins C and E in its composition, which are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, it is not because of these nutrients that it is recognized. The grain stands out as an important source of B vitamins – especially vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. These are an essential part for the proper functioning of our nervous system, muscle maintenance and the synthesis of hormones.

Check our article of the 20 Foods for your brain and your well-being !!!.

Strengthens immunity

Important to strengthen the immune system and better healing, the zinc is another nutrient rich in Quinoa , comprising about 8 mg per 100 g of grain. Its zinc content is higher than that of other cereals, such as rice, corn, wheat, oats, rye, soybeans, beans, amaranth and barley.

If you want you can read this article for more information on how to strengthen the immune system.

Suitable for celiacs

As it does not contain gluten , it can be consumed without problems by people with celiac disease, and it can also substitute for wheat flour in recipes such as bread , pasta and cakes. According to experts, one cup of flour is equivalent to about one cup of quinoa flour.

Types of quinoa that exist

The plants of this pseudo cereal are usually classified according to the climatic conditions in which they are grown. You can find more than 120 species of this plant and more than 1800 varieties available.

Depending on where it is grown, the color of the seeds also varies. There is a wide range of colors , such as black, gray, pink, red, yellow, green, orange or purple.

However, traditionally, these seeds are generally classified as red, black, and white or ivory based on color. In the USA, there are two main types available, on the one hand, the traditional variety which is pale ivory in tone and on the other hand, a deep red variety, called Inca red quinoa.

Seed colors vary due to a resinous saponin coating on the outer shell. Pigmented grains are said to have superior antioxidant capacity. It is also known that the taste of the darker seeds resemble that of brown rice , while the white seeds resemble white rice.

White quinoa

It has a smooth and subtle flavor . This pearly white grain is the most commonly available of all the varieties.

Most people, who are starting to eat it for the first time, try white quinoa because of its mild flavor before moving on to the darker varieties.

This variety is always available in local supermarkets, grocery stores, and organic food stores. They taste sweeter than their darker cousins and are similar in flavor to white rice.

Here you can see the prices of white quinoa .

Red quinoa

He was very popular with the Inca warriors. They ate a combination of balls of lard and red quinoa with which they felt full of energy and strength. They adored these red seeds. That is why today, it is sold as ‘Inca red Quinoa ‘.

When it is cooked, it turns brown and loses its bright coloration that it initially presents. It has a wonderful fruity earthy flavor . There are high levels of phenolic compounds found in this seed.

It is sold prepackaged in supermarkets or health food stores.

Those of us who use it find that it retains its shape even after cooking and is therefore best for use in cold salad recipes or recipes that require it to retain its shape.

Here you can see the prices of red quinoa .

Black quinoa

It is a hybrid variety that was developed by farmers in the Colorado Rockies. This occurred when the seeds were crossed with “lamb quarter” (a type of wild spinach).

The resulting plant was taller than the other types and the seeds were deep purple almost black. It also varied in taste compared to others, with this one having a rich , earthy, crunchy flavor . The crunchy texture still remains after cooking although the color turns red.

Black quinoa grains are sold only in specialty food stores, farmers markets, or on Amazon .

This variety is not very fibrous and cooks quickly. It gets its color from anthocyanins which are a class of compounds that prevent UVA / UVB damage and oxidation of the plant.

Anthocyanins also have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These protect the body against free radicals, chronic diseases, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.

Here you can see the prices of black quinoa .

Quinoa flakes and flour

It is also available in the form of flakes or flour . Quinoa flakes are produced by whole grains just like oats or barley flakes. Flaked cooks faster than whole grains and is ideal for use as an instant breakfast cereal. The flakes can also be used in baking or as a coating for fried fish and chicken.

The quinoa flour used for baking and resembles other types of flour, this makes a great alternative for those suffering from gluten intolerance and require baking gluten – free option.

The flour has a nutty flavor similar to grains, and can even be combined with other flours while baking. Sometimes it  can have a slight bitter taste when tasted due to the presence of saponin. In such cases, you can opt for flour to get rid of this bitterness.

You can even make your own flour at home, you just have to buy whole grains, wash them very well, toast and grind it into flour.

Quinoa leaves

They can be eaten fresh or used for cooking , however outside of where they grow in the Andes mountains, it is difficult to find fresh leaves .

The young leaves taste great when added to fresh salads. Ripe leaves can be sautéed or steamed. People in the Andes feed their cattle with these leaves.

Where to buy quinoa?

It can be found in supermarkets and health food stores, but the cheapest place for organic quinoa and its varieties will surely be Amazon.

  • Premium white quinoa – 1kg – NATURACEREAL
  • Hijas Del Sol Bio Quinoa Grain Bio – 350 gr
  • Daylesford 500g Organic Quinoa (Pack of 6)
  • White Quinoa Seeds 1000 g
  • Red Quinoa Seeds 1 kg – NATURACEREAL
  • Organic Quinoa Seeds 1000 gr

7 ways to include it in our daily diet

It is generally sold in a powdered version, being similar to ground oats, but can also be found in grain form. In both cases, it has all its nutrients stored and daily consumption should not be done in large quantities.

According to nutrition specialists there is a certain recommendation for daily consumption. Thinking of a 2000 calorie diet, we can say that two tablespoons a day is enough .

You can add it to your diet in several ways:

  • Salad : It can be used in salad in two ways: as the seed itself or in the form of flour. In both cases, it has all its nutrients stored and daily consumption should not be done in large quantities, it is a caloric grain (330 calories per 100 g).
  • With fruit or milk: Whole grains can be eaten as a breakfast cereal, accompanying milk or fruit, for example. This is a way to add more protein, fiber and iron to your breakfast, essential nutrients for the proper functioning of the body.
  • Enrich soups: Both flakes and grains can be used to give soups a special flavor. Make the recipe normally and when the dish is ready, add the quinoa. You can also blend it with the soup ingredients, forming a uniform cream.
  • To replace wheat flour: Quinoa flour can be used to prepare various recipes such as cakes, pasta, bread and cookies. The ratio of replacing the ingredients one to one, that is, for each cup of wheat flour, you use a cup of quinoa instead. By substituting wheat flour, you will be adding several nutrients that wheat flour does not have (or has very little) such as protein, calcium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • With yogurt: By adding the seeds to yogurt, you will enrich it with even more calcium and protein, as well as fiber, making it an excellent ally in weight loss programs. One suggestion is to eat a serving of low-fat / skim yogurt (160 ml) plus a tablespoon of quinoa as a snack and between meals. This mixture should contain about 141 calories.
  • Mixed in juices or vitamins: Putting a spoonful of quinoa flour in juices or vitamins adds good doses of calcium, protein, iron and zinc to these drinks, in addition to all the nutrients that fruits already offer. But when they are in juice form, fruits lose much of their fiber, and these seeds can help you balance these amounts.
  • After physical activity : Eating it with fruit salad can be a great snack option after exercise, since fruits are sources of carbohydrates and quinoa has all the essential amino acids so that our body can form proteins. For those who practice physical activities, the consumption of this combination after exercise is essential, since the carbohydrate will replace the lost energy and the protein will help muscle recovery.

Contraindications of Quinoa for regular consumption

There is no contraindication for its consumption  if it is done in adequate amounts (up to two tablespoons a day). This is because it is a caloric food , which when consumed in excess can unbalance the diet.

Comparison of other foods versus Quinoa

  • It is one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom : 100 g has 12 g of protein, an amount higher than that found in soybeans, wheat, rice and oats , but less than that found in chia.
  • The grain is also superior in terms of the amount of fat: 6.1 g of lipids in 100 g of quinoa against 1.5 g and 10.2 g in wheat and oats, respectively.
  • It is important to remember that the fats present in your grains are omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids , both beneficial for the body, which mainly help in the prevention of cardiovascular disease .
  • It is also one of the seeds that has a higher iron content (10.9 mg per 100 grams), only surpassed by amaranth (17.4 mg per 100 grams). These amounts of iron are approximately 550 times higher than those found in other grains.
  • It has about 66 mg of calcium per 100 g of grain, an amount greater than that of rice, wheat, rye, barley and beans, but less than in oats, corn, soybeans, flax seeds , amaranth and chia , which among all grains is the richest in calcium .

Check this table that compares it with wheat and oats, two grains consumed by most of the people

Composition of the quinoa grain in relation to other cereals (100g)

quinoa wheat oatmeal
Calories (kcal) 336 330 405
Carbohydrates (g) 68.3 71.6 68.5
Protein (g) 12.1 9.2 10.6
Lipids (g) 6.1 1.5 10.2
Water (g) 10.8 16.5 9.3
Phosphorus (mg) 302 224 321
Calcium (mg) 107 36 100
Fibers (g) 6.8 3 2.7
Iron (mg) 5.2 4.6 2.5
Thiamin (mg) 1.5 0.2 0
Niacin (mg) 1.2 2.8 0
Riboflavin (mg) 0.3 0.8 0
Ascorbic acid (mg) 1.1 0 0
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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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