So a few years ago I had never heard of quinoa before, let alone cook with it! Now it is a big part of our diet, and given its health benefits I am glad!
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah – I am telling you this as I had no idea) is an edible seed that is loaded with many important nutrients. It is naturally gluten-free and using it instead of typical gluten-free ingredients can increase the antioxidant and nutrient value of a gluten-free diet.
Most gluten-free products are made up of corn, rice or potato flour are lacking in the nutrients that products incorporating quinoa can provide. Researchers at Columbia University's Celiac Disease Center found that the nutritional content of gluten-free diets was significantly improved by adding oats or quinoa to meals and snacks.
Quinoa is high in fiber (helping to regulate the digestive system and to keep you fuller and more satisfied), protein (in fact it contains all the essential amino acids that we need) and has a low glycemic index (around 53). These properties have all been linked to weight loss and improved health.
Nutritionally, quinoa is considered a whole grain. Whole grains include the entire intact grain seed without removing any of its parts. In contrast, when grains are milled or refined like white breads, rice, and pasta, they have been processed to create a finer, lighter texture. Unfortunately, most of the fiber and important nutrients are also removed during this process. Meaning that, these products essentially provide us with simple carbohydrates that are quickly digested but little else in the way of nutritional value.
Here is the nutrient breakdown for 1 cup of cooked quinoa, or 185 grams:
Protein: 8 grams.
Fiber: 5 grams.
Manganese: 58% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
Folate: 19% of the RDA.
Copper: 18% of the RDA.
Iron: 15% of the RDA.