Quinoa is an ancient food, cultivated by pre-Columbian Andean peoples. Nowadays quinoa is known all over the world and is easily available in every supermarket. In fact, quinoa is considered to all intents and purposes a superfood. Today we will try to understand why quinoa has earned this title by analyzing the results of the most recent scientific research.
Quinoa, scientific name Chenopodium quinoa, due to its composition is considered a cereal even if it is not strictly speaking, since it does not belong, like other cereals, to the Pocaceae family. Quinoa contains fibre, both soluble and insoluble, unsaturated fatty acids, has a high protein content, easily digestible, and provides carbohydrates, which are assimilated more slowly than those contained in other cereals (Li et al, Nutrients, 2022). Quinoa provides vitamins, including A, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9 or folic acid, C, and vitamin E, minerals, such as copper, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Not only that, quinoa contains antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and inflammation, and has a prebiotic action on the gut microbiota, supporting the proliferation of good bacteria capable of producing short-chain fatty acids with anti-inflammatory action (Li et al, Nutrients, 2022). Finally, quinoa does not contain gluten and its consumption is well tolerated by people with celiac disease (Zevallos et al, Am J Gastroenterol, 2014).
Quinoa, cholesterol and blood sugar
Quinoa, included in a healthy and varied diet, helps regulate fasting blood sugar (Atefi et al, Curr Med Chem, 2023). Not only that, quinoa contains phytosterols in higher quantities than barley, rye and millet. These substances help reduce cholesterol values (Ain et al, Peer J, 2023). A study showed that in menopausal women the consumption of 25 grams per day of quinoa flakes reduced total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol levels (Jan et al, Food Chem, 2023).
Quinoa useful in case of iron deficiency
Quinoa is an easily assimilable source of iron. In fact, the quantity of phytic acid, a substance that, on the contrary, limits the absorption of iron, in quinoa is low. Cooking quinoa further reduces the presence of phytic acid (Ain et al, Peer J, 2023).
Quinoa against anxiety
Quinoa contains sinapic acid that enhances the action of GABA, a substance with an inhibitory and calming action on the central nervous system.
Once cooked according to the instructions on the package, quinoa can be added to salads or as a tasty and nutritious filling of stuffed vegetables. In the Healthy Eating section we offer some ideas, such as the protein rich salad of quinoa, avocado and prawns or the tomatoes stuffed with quinoa. Not only that, quinoa can also be used in the form of flour to partially replace wheat for the preparation of baked products, such as bread. The dough obtained is enriched with important properties, due to the fact that quinoa has a higher content of proteins, fibers and nutrients beneficial to health than wheat. Starches are less digestible and this helps reduce the glycemic index of the baked product (Mu et al, Foods, 2023). However, a recommendation, if you intend to prepare bread or a cake using quinoa flour, do not exaggerate with the quantity and only partially replace the wheat flour as otherwise the result is a very dense and less soft product. Studies have observed that replacing up to 50% of wheat flour with quinoa flour does not alter the structure of the final product and even improves its flavor (Mu et al, Foods, 2023).