Quinoa – is it a wonder food?

Feb 24, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. ET
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Over the last 10 years, quinoa has come to our attention as a superfood packed with nutrients and vitamins, yet many people still don’t know much about it. Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a grain-like food staple for South American peoples such as the Incas. It is actually a seed, and it can be bought at most healthfood shops and supermarkets. This unique food has some amazing health benefits and is extremely versatile. Here are 10 reasons you should be eating quinoa.

1. Packed with protein

Quinoa is great for vegetarians as it is meat free yet packed with protein. In fact, not only is it high in protein but it is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.

2. High in fibre

It is also high in fibre, which helps keep the digestive system healthy and efficient, as well as iron, which keeps blood cells healthy so they carry oxygen around the body.

3. Gluten free

As well as being great for vegetarians, quinoa is also suitable for people with food allergies as it is gluten free. Anyone who has a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease cannot process gluten at all so their diet, especially when it comes to grains, can be very limited. Quinoa, however, can replace the grains and rice in many dishes allowing sufferers to eat certain meals again.

4. Headache reliever

Some people have reported that quinoa helps alleviate chronic headaches. The reason for this may be the magnesium content in the seed, which opens and relaxes blood vessels – a common cause of migraines.

5. High in riboflavin

Quinoa is a great source of riboflavin, which promotes proper energy production within the cells.

6. Healthy source of calcium

It is also a great source of calcium. Therefore, with many people removing dairy from their diet nowadays, it can offer a health alternative.

7. Lowers blood pressure

Quinoa has been shown to lower hypertension, heart disease and heart arrhythmia.

8. Tasty rice alternative

It is extremely versatile and very tasty. Quinoa can replace rice or pasta in almost any dish and is perfect as a side dish to any meal.

9. Quick and easy

Quinoa is incredibly easy to cook. Just add it to a bowl of boiling water, simmer for 15 minutes and it will be done – very similar to cooking rice.

10. Low GI

It is extremely low in calories and has a low GI, meaning it will keep you fuller for longer and won't spike your blood sugar, something that white rice has been proven to do.

More on Quinoa

Quinoa recipes: Gluten-free and easy
How to cook quinoa
10 Power foods you should have in your kitchen