What’s All The Hype About Quinoa? Benefits, Types and More!

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

health Benefits Quinoa
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“Want a healthy meal but too lazy to cook? Quinoa is the option to look! Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that has recently gained popularity due to its high nutritional value. This “superfood” is mainly favoured by fitness enthusiasts and those who wish to follow a healthy diet regime. Read on to know more about quinoa, its benefits, and the best quinoa to opt for.

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What is Quinoa?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Quinoa: Nutritional Value
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Types of Quinoa
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Health Benefits of Quinoa
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    Best Quinoa in India
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    How to Eat Quinoa Seeds?
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
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    FAQs
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What is Quinoa?

Quinoa, (pronounced as KEEN-wah), is the seed of the plant Chenopodium quinoa. Though it is not actually a grain, quinoa is referred to as a “pseudo-grain” as it is eaten the same way as cereal grains. Its gluten-free nature is one reason why it is part of the health buzz, especially for those who want to keep their calorie intake in check. 

People with allergies to wheat or conditions such as coeliac disease (a disorder affecting the small intestine) may consume quinoa as an alternative to other grains that have gluten. Let’s understand the nutritional information of quinoa in detail.

Quinoa: Nutritional Value

Quinoa is often consumed by health watchers due to its high nutritional content. It is packed with various vitamins and minerals and is more nutrient-rich than most other grains. There is about 8 g of protein, 5 g of fibre, 4 g of fat, and 220 calories in one bowl of cooked quinoa (185 g).

Quinoa is a protein-rich grain, which is essentially high in amino acids such as lysine, cysteine, and methionine. It is also high in plant compounds, namely phenolic acids, saponins, flavonoids, and betacyanins. These are potent antioxidants that help prevent the damage caused by free radicals in the body. The darker the colour of the quinoa seed, the more antioxidants it will contain.

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Types of Quinoa

There are thousands of varieties of quinoa that exist; however, the most commonly used ones are:

1. White Quinoa

White quinoa (also called ivory quinoa) is the most commonly used type and has the lowest fat content among the other types. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids (essential fats), which help lower your cholesterol levels and boost your heart health.

White quinoa usually attains a fluffy texture post-cooking and is often mildly bitter in taste. It is usually eaten boiled or added to salads.

2. Red Quinoa

Red quinoa when cooked retains its shape better than the other types of quinoa when cooked. This makes it a great ingredient for salads and recipes that require a distinct grain. Red quinoa is a rich source of vitamin E and also contains plant pigments called betalains, which have powerful antioxidant properties. 

It is high in fibre, which promotes digestion and also lowers the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol in the body. Red quinoa is usually added to salads, used to thicken soups or used as a side dish.

3. Black Quinoa

Black quinoa has a low-fat content and is high in omega-3 fatty acids and plant pigments such as carotenoids. It is a good source of protein, which helps improve muscle mass, boosts metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and also keeps you satiated for longer, thus controlling your calorie intake.

Black quinoa is sweeter in taste as compared to the other types, and retains the black colour even after getting cooked. It can be consumed as a breakfast porridge or can be added to your favourite soups or salads.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

  • Studies have shown that consuming fibre-rich foods such as quinoa can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and help manage blood sugar levels. Quinoa is also rich in protein, which benefits diabetics. Proteins keep you satiated for long and lowers your calorie intake. This in turn helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is crucial when it comes to the prevention and management of diabetes.
  • Quinoa may significantly reduce the levels of triglycerides, LDL (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol in your body. This in turn lowers the risk of heart diseases.
  • As quinoa is rich in fibre, it can boost your digestive health and promote healthy bowel movements. It helps prevent digestive problems such as stomach bloating or constipation. It also promotes a feeling of fullness, which will make you eat less and thereby aid in weight loss.
  • Quinoa is a powerhouse of antioxidants. A diet high in antioxidants is great for neutralising the effect of harmful free radicals in the body. It also helps boost your immunity and benefits your skin and hair.

Best Quinoa in India

There are a lot of brands introducing ready-to-cook quinoa. One of the most recommended variants of quinoa is True Elements Quinoa. It is a ready-to-cook breakfast pack, which is loaded with nutrients that can benefit your health.  This quinoa is naturally gluten-free and is favourable in improving your digestion, managing weight, benefiting your heart health, and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

How to Eat Quinoa Seeds?

Here are some simple ways to include quinoa seeds (or quinoa) in your diet:

  • Replace Your Rice with Quinoa: Quinoa can be boiled for around 20 minutes and consumed instead of your regular rice. It has a naturally nutty flavour so boiled quinoa makes up for a quick meal instead of pasta or rice. This plain boiled quinoa can also be added to porridge and salads.

          For an even better taste, you can cook your quinoa by tossing in some nuts, seeds             and spices. This way you can have a filling, delicious, and nutritious meal.

  • Stuff Quinoa in Your Sandwich or Vegetables: Due to its distinct texture, quinoa can be added to your sandwich filling or burger patty or can be used as a stuffing in vegetables such as zucchini and capsicum. 
  • Blend Quinoa in Your Smoothie or Oatmeal: Having quinoa for breakfast will be a great way to start your day. Adding it to your favourite smoothie or oatmeal can enhance its nutritional value and also improve the taste. You can also go for a bowl of quinoa with added nuts, seeds, and dry fruits for breakfast.
  • Add Quinoa to Your Salads: Salads definitely provide you with a boost of nutrition and adding quinoa to your favourite veggies or fruits makes it even better. You can add cooked and cooled quinoa to your salads along with a flavour-packed dressing.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Quinoa, pronounced as “KEEN-wah”, refers to the seed of the plant Chenopodium quinoa. It is gluten-free and great for people with allergies to wheat and conditions such as coeliac disease. Such individuals may consume quinoa as an alternative to other grains that have gluten.
  • Quinoa is often consumed by health watchers due to its high nutritional content. It is packed with various vitamins and minerals and is more nutrient-rich than most other grains. There is about 8 g of protein, 5g of fibre, 4g of fat, and only 220 calories in 1 bowl of cooked quinoa (185 g).
  • The most varieties of quinoa are red, white, and black quinoa. White quinoa is commonly called just “quinoa” and is the most commonly consumed and easily available variant.
  • Regular consumption of quinoa is beneficial in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and in managing your blood sugar levels. It may significantly reduce the levels of triglycerides, LDL (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol in the body. As quinoa is rich in fibre, it helps improve digestion and prevent stomach bloating and constipation.
  • You can find the best varieties of quinoa by clicking here.
  • You can include quinoa in your daily diet by adding it to your smoothies or oatmeal, by using it in your sandwich or vegetable stuffing, adding it to your favourite salad or by just having boiled quinoa for your meals instead of rice or pasta.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading nutritionists and dieticians to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Check out our store to order tasty treats, breakfast foods, health juices, snacks and more! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Rice is lower in terms of certain nutrients than quinoa. Quinoa is richer in fibre, protein, and other nutrients than rice. 100 g of cooked quinoa contains 2.8 g of fibre, 4.4 g of protein, and 21.3 g of carbohydrates whereas 100 g of cooked rice contains only 1 g of fibre, 2.02 g of protein, and 21.1 g of carbohydrates.

When consumed as part of a meal, quinoa should not cause any side effects or have any disadvantages. However, it is best to consume it in moderation. You can limit your consumption to 1 to 2 cups of cooked quinoa a day. Some individuals who are allergic to quinoa may experience symptoms such as itchy skin, and common symptoms of food allergy such as stomach pain and diarrhoea.

All varieties of quinoa hold similar nutritional values. However, red quinoa is higher in antioxidants as compared to the other two types, black and white quinoa.

Quinoa is rich in both carbohydrates and proteins. One cup (185 g) of cooked quinoa contains about 39 g of carbohydrates, which is comparable to barley and rice. If you are watching your weight make sure that you limit yourself to 1 to 2 cups of cooked quinoa a day in order to keep a check on your carbohydrate intake. The protein content in 1 cup (185 g) cooked quinoa is about 8 g, which is higher than most cereals. Protein-rich foods can keep you satiated, help lower your sugar and blood pressure levels, and also aid in weight loss.

Quinoa contains beneficial plant compounds such as saponins, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and betacyanins, all of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, quinoa may be beneficial for your health in several ways.

Quinoa is not known to cause joint pain. Generally, grains that contain gluten such as wheat and barley are believed to increase the risk of joint pain as this protein may aggravate symptoms of arthritis (a condition characterised by painful and inflamed joints). As quinoa is gluten-free, it may not hold the risk of causing joint pain or inflammation.

According to studies, having one serving of quinoa a day (about 40 g) meets a big part of your daily requirement of essential nutrients. Quinoa benefits your body in multiple ways such as promoting weight loss, improving digestion, and lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Those who are allergic to the proteins in quinoa should avoid its consumption in order to prevent side effects such as diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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