What’s So Great About Quinoa?

What’s So Great About Quinoa?

I’m happy to introduce a new column to SPC: What’s So Great About…. by Heidi Pyper. Regular readers of the blog know Heidi and her gorgeous family. Every week she’ll be creating these smart posts full of nutritional information and ways to incorporate super foods into your family’s diet. And sometimes she’ll throw us a curve ball with What’s So Bad About and confirm your worst fears about sugar, salt,  fat and all the things you wish you could eat. Let us know which foods or ingredients you’d like her to research here. And so, here’s Heidi!

Quinoa 101

There are super foods…and then there’s quinoa.

I think I might quinoa as much as Laura likes kale. The list of quinoa’s health benefits is as long as its history.  Native to Peru and Bolivia, it has been cultivated in the Andes since 3000 B.C.  It wasn’t until recently however, that North Americans started to see it on store shelves and wondered “How the hell do I say that?”  (Answer:  keen-wa).

While it is considered a grain, quinoa is more closely related to spinach than wheat. And what distinguishes quinoa from other grains, is that it contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein (highly unusual in the plant world).  Quinoa is excellent for vegetarians or those looking to increase their iron intake without increasing meat consumption.  My box of GOGO Quinoa has 12% of recommended daily allowance of iron in a 45 gram serving.
Other boasts this Peruvian wonder can make?  Quinoa is gluten free, high in dietary fiber, low in fat, and is a good source of riboflavin (B vitamin), magnesium, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals which make it a super antioxidant.  There’s more…but this is getting ridiculous!

Quinoa:  Disease Buster!
• Increasing consumption of whole grains like quinoa and fish could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%.
International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood (Tabak C, Wijga AH, Thorax)
• A diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as quinoa, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women.
International Journal of Epidemiology (Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al.)
• The FDA permits foods that contain at least 51% whole grains by weight (and are also low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol) to display a health claim stating consumption is linked to lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Now, research suggests regular consumption of whole grains also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Care (van Dam RM, Hu FB)

Preparation:
Thankfully quinoa is easy to prepare. Just follow the instructions on the box. But do  take the time to soak it (or at least rinse it) before you set it to boil.

>Links to Quinoa recipes on SPC:

http://www.sweetpotatochronicles.com/2010/09/guest-blogger-heidi-tale-of-two-salads.html

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