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Quinoa: The Ultimate Superfood?

Photo used under Creative Commons from SaucyGlo

North Americans have only recently discovered quinoa, but it has been revered for centuries dating to the time of the Incas.

Originating from the Andes region of South America, quinoa is a tiny, easy-to-cook seed that’s often misidentified as a whole grain.

Quinoa is gluten-free, cholesterol-free, kosher (according to some authorities) and usually organic, making it an option for many people on strict diets.

Quinoa is considered a complete source of protein, has valuable fats in small amounts and is rich in nutrients including vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Health benefits

  • Digestion. The high fiber and starch content of quinoa make it easily digestible and good for the digestive tract.
  • Heart health. Quinoa’s high magnesium content helps to relax blood vessels and enhance blood flow.
  • Exercise recovery. The potassium and vitamin B in quinoa are good for muscle recovery. Potassium helps the body pump fluids to the muscles more quickly and prevents cramping.
  • Weight maintenance. Quinoa is high in protein, which helps with satiety, but has low calorie and carbohydrate counts.

Fun Fact

Thanks to its exceptional nutritional content, quinoa is often included in astronauts’ meals on space missions.

Recipe: Red Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

Quinoa is a healthy alternative to whole grains. When paired with high-fiber black beans, quinoa is a great backdrop for a healthy and unique salad. Serve this salad as a side dish or pair it with crusty whole-grain bread for a light meal.

Recipe Key: C = cup | T = tablespoon | t = teaspoon | oz = ounce

1 C red or regular dry quinoa

2 C water

⅔ C salsa

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 green onions, thinly sliced

3 T cilantro, chopped

2 T grated soy cheese

Rinse quinoa thoroughly, then add it to 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed (about 10–15 minutes).

Place the cooked quinoa in a medium-sized bowl. Add the salsa and black beans, and gently mix until combined. Place in serving bowls. Garnish with green onions, cilantro and soy cheese. Makes four 1-cup servings.

Per serving: 264 calories; 3 grams (g) fat; 12 g protein; 48 g carbs; 8.4 g fiber; 0 milligrams (mg) cholesterol; 192 mg sodium.

Source: Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine.



Research by Jessica Cline, IDEA Editorial Assistant

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