We should eat quinoa a little more often! And not because this food is fashionable now, but because it is a precious ally for liver and brain health. Let's try to understand better on the basis of two very recent scientific studies.
Quinoa protects the brain and counteracts the damage of stress
The first research was published in the journal Nutrients by a Chilean team (Terreros et a, Nutrients, 2023). The research took place in the laboratory and analyzed the effects of quinoa on the brain in mice subjected to stress. Adolescent rats were selected for the study because, in this age group, just like in humans, mice are also more susceptible to stress factors that can also alter cognitive functionality. Some of the mice also ate quinoa along with their normal diet. After a month, what emerged was that quinoa was able to counteract the deleterious effects of stress on the brain, improving memory and counteracting alterations in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the brain area associated with episodic memory and also the most sensitive to stress, understood as adversity to which we struggle to adapt. Studies have observed that in case of stress it is even possible to detect a reduction in hippocampal neurogenesis and an increase in the atrophy of dendrites, which are the ramifications of neurons through which nervous signals pass. Well, quinoa, taken every day, has proven to be neuroprotective and has made it possible to counteract this harmful effect of stress on the brain.
Quinoa protects the liver
The second scientific research was published in the journal Foods by a Chinese team (Zhong et al, Foods, 2023). The study, also in this case, took place in the laboratory and observed the hepatoprotective effects of quinoa on a population of rats fed a high-fat diet. A diet of this type promotes the development of fatty liver. The intake of quinoa, in a quantity equal to 100 grams per day for humans, made it possible, in three months, to reduce the condition of fatty liver, inflammation and free radicals in the liver.
Quinoa, nutrients, properties and conclusions of studies
Quinoa is a very interesting food that, as we have seen on the basis of two recent scientific studies, is able to protect the brain from the harmful effects of stress and the liver from consequences of a high-fat diet. Both researches presented today have the limitation of having been conducted on mice and not on humans. It must be said that mice and humans share 95% of the genome, therefore it is reasonable to expect effects that are not very different. Clearly, to make the studies solid it will be necessary to extend them to humans too, but, as mentioned, we can hypothesize the same neuroprotective and hepatoprotective functions of quinoa in this case too. These properties can be traced back to the ability of quinoa to act on the gut microbiota, protecting the good bacteria at the expense of the bad and pro-inflammatory bacteria, and to provide precious unsaturated fatty acids of the omega 9, omega 6 and omega 3 type, which have an anti-stress action, are anti-inflammatory and support memory and brain, but also vitamins, such as B, C and E, mineral salts, such as potassium, calcium and zinc, and antioxidants.
Quinoa in the kitchen
But how is quinoa prepared? Quinoa is a very versatile and tasty food. There are numerous recipes to follow to bring quinoa to the table. In the Healthy Eating section we offer some ideas, such as the protein rich salad of quinoa, prawns and avocado, but also the tomatoes stuffed with quinoa, simply succulent and delicious. But you can also opt for a pan of vegetables and quinoa or why not, use quinoa to make vegetarian meatballs. Quinoa is suitable for accompanying meat and fish dishes, stews but is also an ingredient for soups and even desserts, such as biscuits, creams and cakes.