Yesterday I mentioned quinoa was one of my favorite foods to take when I travel. I thought I would share more information about one of my “super” foods.
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-Wah), though commonly referred to as a grain, is actually the seed of a plant, Chenopodium quinoa, and related to beets, chard and spinach. It has been cultivated in the Andean mountain regions of Peru, Chile and Bolivia for over 5,000 years, and has long been a staple food in the diets of the native Indians. Quinoa was once called “the gold of the Incas,” as they recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors.
The most common type of quinoa is light beige in color, but other varieties include red, purple or black. It is gluten-free, which is, of course, noteworthy for individuals with celiac disease or who otherwise avoid foods containing gluten. Another significant fact about quinoa’s nutritional value is that it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (that the human body does not manufacture); soy is the only other plant-based food that can make this claim. Natural foodies call quinoa a supergrain because it is highly nutritious and can supply us with all of the body’s requirements: carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Personally, I am drawn to quinoa because of its ability to help prevent migraine headaches. It is a good source of magnesium and riboflavin (Vitamin B2), both of which have been shown to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches in those prone to the attacks. Magnesium is a mineral that helps relax blood vessels and riboflavin is known to improve energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells of migraine sufferers.
Some of the many other essential facts about quinoa:
- High calcium contact; considered a beneficial food for treating bone problems
- Contains substantial amounts of lysine, an amino acid essential for tissue growth and repair
- Compared to most other grains, contains more manganese, iron, copper, phosphorous, Vitamin E, B vitamins, potassium and zinc
- High in fiber
- Digests slowly; won’t cause blood sugar to spike
- Produces satiety; the combination of protein and fiber bring about a feeling of fullness and satisfaction
Eat some quinoa. I assure you that you’ll like it.