I'm fairly convinced that you've seen quinoa pop up at least once on a menu or in stores somewhere. It seems like everywhere you go, someone is talking about it and its health benefits. Even amid all the buzz, there are still those of us who aren't even really sure what it is, let alone why it's such a big deal. Well, as it turns out, you should know about it because it can do quite a bit for your health and meal plans. That's why we're here to teach you all you need to know about quinoa - including its nutrition, benefits, and how you can prepare it.

What Is Quinoa?

a bowl of white quinoa on a wooden table

Pronounced (keen-wah), this superfood is technically a seed. It's often confused with being a grain even though it doesn't resemble the grains we all know and love such as wheat or oat. However, quinoa is prepared and consumed much like grains are, which is why the confusion happens. It's also why quinoa is considered to be something of a "pseudo-cereal," the name for foods prepared and eaten like grain without actually being one.

Quinoa Nutrition

The reason quinoa is thought of as a superfood is because of the health benefits associated with it. Before we jump into those in detail, it's important to know what just one serving possesses. 100g of this seed has a lot of protein (4g), fiber (3g), and carbs (21g) in it. It's also low in fat and sugar with only 2g of fat per 100 grams of cooked quinoa. The sugar content only clocked in at .87g per serving.

Calories are something plenty of us worry about, so you can rest easy knowing that quinoa calories are relatively low. There are only 120 calories in one 100g serving.

Quinoa Benefits

a woman pouring quinoa into her hand from a glass jar

Now it's time for the main event: the benefits of quinoa. These are some of the more crucial benefits, though. There is much more to quinoa than the benefits listed below, such as being high in antioxidants, having solid amounts of iron and magnesium, and acting as a weight loss agent.

Contains Quercetin And Kaempferol

I know those words don't really mean anything to a lot of us at first glance, but they're actually important components to quinoa. These two have been linked to serious health benefits like anti-inflammatory properties and being cancer preventive.

It's Gluten-Free

Many of us either need a gluten-free diet due to health concerns or simply by choice. Whatever your prerogative, quinoa is gluten-free and can be incorporated into lots of different recipes that cater to your individual needs.

Has A Low Glycemic Level

If you or someone you love is dealing with diabetes, quinoa is a safe food to ingest. Its glycemic level is only 53, which is considered to be on the low side. Foods with a glycemic index of 55 or under will help to control blood sugar levels and allow you to feel fuller for longer periods of time. Grains and bread, in general, have low glycemic levels and should be sought after more often by people with diabetes.

It's Loaded With Protein And Fiber

a wooden bowl filled with quinoa

Easily one of the best things about quinoa is how it's packed with fiber and protein. Quinoa has more protein than other grains. Harvard's School of Public Health also published that quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all nine essential amino acids adults need.

The Different Types Of Quinoa

There are many different kinds of quinoa out there, but the more common types are white, black, and red. The differences between the colors are minimal with only slight differences in consistency and taste. You can purchase other colors, though, like purple and orange.

White quinoa is the one that's used more often and has a lighter taste over the others. Red quinoa is basically exactly the same as it has the same kinds of nutrients and earthy flavor. The big difference between black and white quinoa is that black takes a bit longer to make and isn't as chewy as the white kind.

How To Eat Quinoa

Alright, so we know what quinoa is and why it's good for us but how do we get it into our diets? When it comes right down to it, quinoa is healthier than rice so you can swap one out for the other. You can also stick it in a number of other recipes like cereal, salads, soups, and casseroles. Depending on the color of quinoa you have, the cooking times will range from 10-20 minutes. Black quinoa usually takes the longest whereas white cooks much faster.

a fork holding some quinoa salad

Making quinoa is really easy and it can easily be added to many different meals, which is another one of its great benefits. You also don't need to worry about a huge change in taste because quinoa on its own doesn't really taste like anything. You'll need to get creative with your recipes if you're looking to bring the flavor and health benefits.

Final Notes

Quinoa is loaded with health benefits like high protein, carbs, fiber, and antioxidants. It also has a low glycemic level and is gluten-free, making it the perfect choice for people with dietary restrictions.

You can incorporate it into many meals given that it doesn't taste like much and swapping some ingredients with quinoa is super easy. Quinoa also comes in different colors and while there may be slight differences in cooking time and taste, you're not in for any large surprises.

With everything it has to offer, you should be looking into grabbing some quinoa at the store. Sprinkle it into different recipes to enjoy all the nutrition your body deserves.

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