Health Benefits of Quinoa: Why this High-Protein Superfood is Important for Vegans & Vegetarians
Health Benefits of Quinoa (Photo Credits: Pixabay)

Vegetarians and vegans mostly complain of difficulty in sourcing protein from plant-based food. They also struggle in acquiring essential amino acids which are vital for repairing of muscles. However, most of us are not aware that there is a gluten-free food which has numerous health benefits; this grain food is Quinoa. Irrespective of whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian, you should consider including this protein-rich plant-based food in your diet. Scroll down below to know the health benefits of quinoa and why it is a must protein food for vegans and vegetarians. Is Breakfast Important for Weight Loss? How to Make Your Morning Meal Healthy.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a flowering plant in the amaranth family. This herbaceous annual plant is grown as a grain crop primarily for its edible seeds. According to a study conducted by Advances in Food and Nutrition Research published in 2009, Quinoa is considered as pseudocereal or pseudo-grain and has been recognised as a complete food due to its protein quality. The credit for the rich nutritional content of this grain should not only be given to protein, but also the presence of essential amino acids. It contains all nine vital amino acids-isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, cysteine, methionine, threonine, histidine, tryptophan and valine which our body require. This pseudocereal is also an essential source of vitamins and minerals. As per United States Department of Agriculture, 185 gm of cooked Quinoa consist of 8.14 gm protein, 3.55 gm fat and 39.41 gm carbohydrate.

Quinoa (Photo Credits: Pixabay)

Why is Quinoa Good for Vegans & Vegetarians?

Vegans and vegetarians mostly suffer from atrophy as they are unable to acquire essential amino acids from plant-based food. Quinoa consists of all essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids are necessary for developing structural protein, and our body uses them to produce hormones, neurotransmitters and other important biochemicals. Especially if a vegetarian who does weight training exercises and does not wish to opt for Branch Chain Amino Acids(BCAA) supplements then he should include quinoa in his meals. BCAA mainly includes leucine, isoleucine and valine in the ratio of 2:1:1 which is also present in quinoa along with other vital amino acids in a balanced quantity.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

1. Presence of plant compounds like quercetin and kaempferol

Quinoa consists of these two flavonoids - quercetin and kaempferol in high amount. Flavonoids are in plant oxidants which offer various health benefits.  The presence of quercetin in this pseudocereal is even higher than typical quercetin foods like cranberries. These crucial molecules have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-depressant effects.

2. Very High in Fiber

Quinoa is higher in fiber than any other grains. One cup(185gm) of quinoa consist of around 17-27 gm of fiber, in which it contains a decent amount around 2.5 gm of soluble fiber which can reduce blood sugar level and lower cholesterol level. Excessive amount of fiber in general in this food can help one improve the bowel system along with gut health.

3. High in antioxidants

This pseudo-grain is high in antioxidants which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight ageing and many diseases. Sprouting increases their antioxidants level even further.

4. Helps in weight loss

Quinoa is rich in protein which can increase both metabolism and reduce appetite significantly. The high amount of fiber helps in keeping one full, making one eat fewer calories overall. This pseudocereal has a low glycemic index which has been linked to reducing calorie intake.

5. Easy to incorporate into your diet

Quinoa is easily available at all health food stores and supermarket. It goes well along with other food.

One can have it by preparing it in 15- 20 mins:

  • Put 2 cups (240 ml) of water in a pot, turn up the heat.
  • Add 1 cup (170 grams) of raw quinoa, with a dash of salt.
  • Boil for 15–20 minutes.
  • Then add it in your meal.

You should try to include quinoa in your diet irrespective of whether you are following a healthy regime or not.  It is nutritious and can be used as an alternative for rice.  This pseudo-grain is the favourite food these days in the world of fitness and must be definitely tried out.

(This article is written for an informative purpose and should not be substituted for medical advice. Kindly consult your doctor before trying any tips.)