Quinoa could be the greatest grain that’s ever existed. Technically classified as a pseudo-cereal joining the likes of buckwheat and amaranth, quinoa was considered the mother of all grains by the ancient Incas over 5000 years ago. Today, quinoa is regarded as a superfood bursting with an impressive macronutrient profile. We're going to cover the 9 health benefits of eating quinoa, so you can take advantage of its high protein, quality clean carbohydrates, and healthy essential Omega-3 fats.
1. Quinoa Is Packed With Protein
One of the major health benefits of eating quinoa is its protein content. Quinoa contains 8g of protein per cup and is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids which your body cannot produce on its own. With a full essential amino acid profile, quinoa is a great source of protein to help improve athletic performance outcomes, such as increasing strength, building more muscle mass, and optimizing body composition.
Quinoa contains 7.2% leucine content to total protein. Leucine is proven to be the one branched-chain amino acid, that is responsible for initiating muscle protein synthesis—the muscle-building process the best. The more leucine in your diet the more muscle mass you’ll build when you’re hitting the gym, which translates into better athletic performance and less body fat [R]. Quinoa also contains a ton of lysine which is an essential amino acid for tissue repair and immune health [R]. Hitting your protein intake goals is challenging when you’re trying to build more mass, especially for vegan or plant-based athletes. Adding in some quinoa is a great way to get more protein in your diet.
2. Quinoa Has A Ton Of Fiber
2020 U.S. dietary guidelines recommend you get at least 25-30g of fiber per day. On average Americans only get 15g of fiber per day. But the good news for you is that one cup of quinoa contains 5g of fiber. Fiber’s most prominent role is improving digestive health acting like a broom that sweeps through your digestive tract helping with regularity.
In addition to digestive health studies have shown that fiber can reduce chronic disease states such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Adding quinoa to your diet is a great way to get some much-needed fiber to improve overall health and wellness.
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3. Quinoa Contains Healthy Omega-3 Fats
Quinoa contains healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been linked to numerous benefits supporting your heart, brain, joints, and even skin health. The body requires EFAs for optimal health but cannot make these essential fatty acids on its own.
The human body requires both groups of EFAs (omega-3 and omega-6) to survive, however, the typical modern-day diet is much higher in Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3, which means including foods that contain omega-3s and supplementation is critical to your overall health.
Several studies suggest that Omega-3 can help reduce chronic disease states reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and improving joint and brain health.
4. Quinoa Is Naturally Gluten Free
Another great benefit of eating quinoa is that it's naturally gluten-free, non-GMO, and in most cases organic. This is especially great for those that are gluten intolerant, gluten sensitive or have Celiac Disease. A study conducted at the University of Maryland found Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) was far more prevalent than previously thought, affecting one in 133 Americans as opposed to one in every 10,000. Gluten can cause major disruption to your digestive tract, causing bloat, inflammation, and severe discomfort and irritation. Incorporating foods like quinoa that are naturally gluten-free is an easy way to get your quality carbohydrates and grains while avoiding gluten.
5. Quinoa May Help Regulate Blood Sugar Level
Quinoa is a low-glycemic food with a rating of 53. The glycemic index measures how quickly a food will raise blood sugar. The lower the glycemic index rating, the better that food will provide a slower rise in blood glucose and energy levels. Foods that are high on the glycemic index will spike blood sugar and can contribute to unwanted weight gain. Quinoa is also high in fiber. Studies have shown that soluble fiber can reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and increase fullness.
6. Quinoa Contains Powerful Plant Compounds
Quinoa is loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and powerful antioxidants called flavanols. Quinoa contains two well-studied and proven flavonoids called quercetin and kaempferol which have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, anti-cancer, and anti-depressant properties.
7. Quinoa May Help You Lose Weight
Quinoa has several important properties which can help in weight management. Quinoa is high in protein, low in calories and high in fiber, which suppresses appetite and increases satiation. Foods higher in fiber have been found to increase fullness, which translates to eating fewer overall calories. Considering that you need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight, quinoa proves to be a great addition to your diet, if you’re looking to lose weight.
8. Quinoa Is Super Easy To Meal Prep
Another great benefit of eating quinoa is that it's convenient to make. With the daily grind awaiting you every morning, saving time is crucial to getting the important things done and checked off your list. Unless you love to cook, it can take a considerable amount of time. Quinoa however is quick and easy to prep. Depending on what type of quinoa you buy, you simply rinse, put it in boiling water, and in 15 minutes you’re good to go. Some brands even pre-rinse so you can skip that step. If that’s not good enough, you can even buy the precooked quinoa bowls, and pop it in the microwave.
9. Quinoa Is Rich In Magnesium
Magnesium is an electrolyte that helps relax blood vessels. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar, body temperature, transmits nerve signals, and helps in the formation of healthy bones and teeth. One cup of quinoa provides 25% of the daily recommended value of magnesium with 118 mg.
Health Benefits of Eating Quinoa: Takeaway
When it comes to eating healthy, it does not get much better than reaping the benefits of quinoa. Rich in vitamins and minerals, quinoa is bursting with an impressive macronutrient profile, making it a great addition to your weekly meal prep. Besides being healthy, quinoa tastes great and provides some much-needed diversity when you’re dialing in your nutrition.
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