What is Quinoa?

Quinoa: the non-grain grain. A few years ago, the odds were excellent that you would never have heard of the ancient “grain” quinoa.  But today, quinoa is becoming quite widespread.  There are many diverse reasons to explain quinoa’s burgeoning popularity.  As it turns out, quinoa isn’t just another grain alternative, but is in its own right a real nutritional powerhouse that should be incorporated into the diets of virtually everyone.  Yes, quinoa is that good for you!  In this article, we will explore quinoa in more depth and why you should make this ancient food a regular staple in your own diet.

Quinoa Actually Isn’t a Grain at All

Quinoa is treated as a grain by most people and can be used, for all practical purposes, exactly in this fashion.  However; quinoa is, in fact, a seed.  This fact isn’t too shocking if you take a good, long look at this food up close.  Quinoa’s small size helps to contribute to the fact that it is easy to digest as well.

Quinoa and Gluten Related Issues and Conditions

Gluten sensitivity has received a good deal of much deserved attention in recent years.  This has translated into a real growth in the number of products being offered to those with gluten issues, and quinoa has been placed right at the top of the list of alternatives for those with gluten sensitives.  Those with celiac’s disease, for example, will find that quinoa serves as an excellent alternative and a tasty one at that!  Next let’s look at the nutritional makeup of quinoa and why it is safe to call quinoa a nutritional powerhouse.

Pack a Nutritional Punch with Ancient Quinoa!

Quinoa is nothing short of impressive in terms of its nutritional composition.  It is high in fiber, very high in protein and is, in fact, a complete protein.  Quinoa is very rare in terms of a plant based food, as it is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids.  In order for a protein source to serve as a complete protein, it is necessary that it contains the following amino acids:

  • Tryptophan
  • Isoleucine
  • Lysine
  • Valine
  • Threonine
  • Leucine
  • Methionine
  • Histidine
  • Phenylalanine

Vegans and vegetarians often have to mix foods in order to achieve this complete protein mix.  Only a few very special foods can achieve this on their own.

But Wait! Quinoa Has Even More Nutrition to Offer

In addition to being a complete protein, quinoa is loaded with a variety of other nutrients as well.  Here are some of the nutrients that are found in quinoa in moderate to high levels per calorie.

  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate)
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Iron 

Gluten-free, easy to digest and loaded with nutrition, such as important vitamins and minerals, quinoa has a lot to offer.  It even has a good deal of heart and brain health boosting omega-3 fatty acids as well.  This all combines to help make quinoa a great option for your morning breakfast cereal.  Consider replacing your standard box cereal or oatmeal once or twice a week with this ancient “grain.”

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