Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)

Main Facts about Quinoa

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)
Quinoa (the name is derived from the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name keen-wah) is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudo-cereal rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family. Quinoa is an annual plant that grows in the Andes near the equator, with small fruits - about 2 millimetres (0.079 in) in diameter - and of various colours—white, red or black. Quinoa was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago by Andean peoples. This crop was indispensable in the Incas’ diet because of its ability to tolerate dry soil and grow in tough conditions. The Incas referred to it as “mother of all grains", and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season. During the Spanish conquest the colonists forbade Quinoa cultivation.

Using Quinoa

Perhaps the most striking health benefit provided by quinoa is its overall nutrient richness. Unlike most grains, Quinoa has a high for grains protein and fat content. With 8 grams of quality protein per cup of cooked quinoa (or 4.5 grams per 100 grams), Quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source for vegetarians and vegans. It is rich in fiber and minerals, but doesn’t contain any gluten. Quinoa is a perfect food to include on a gluten-free diet. The antioxidant flavonoids concentration in Quinoa can sometimes be greater than their concentration of high-flavonoid berries like cranberry or lingonberry. Quinoa is a good source of fiber—one of the key macronutrients needed for health blood sugar regulation. Since chronic inflammation is a key risk factor for development of type 2 diabetes, the diverse range of anti-inflammatory nutrients found in Quinoa make it a great candidate for diabetes risk reduction. Yet, Quinoa is relatively high in carbs, so it is not a good choice for a low-carb diet. Animal studies have already demonstrated the ability of Quinoa to lower total cholesterol and help maintain levels of HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol). It is a good source of minerals: potassium, zinc, iron, and, especially, magnesium.


The risks associated with Quinoa are minimal, provided it is properly cooked and the leaves are not eaten to excess.

Cooking with Quinoa

The seeds are in general cooked the same way as rice and can be used in a wide range of dishes. It is easily-prepared, nutrient-rich food.The leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable, but commercial availability of Quinoa greens is limited. To cook 1 cup Quinoa, add two cups water. After the mixture is boiling, reduce heat, cover it and simmer for about 15 min. If dry roast Quinoa for 5 min. before cooking, it will have a nuttier flavor.
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