What is Quinoa? Is It Gluten-Free?

Quinoa is a versatile food that is becoming increasingly popular. Quinoa is also a widely used alternative to rice and pasta and you can make a nutritious breakfast with it.
But what is quinoa and how healthy is it? Is quinoa a temporary hype or can it occupy a permanent place within the  diet?

what is quinoa

Time to sort this out to the bottom and get to the truth.

What is quinoa?

The quinoa plant comes from the South American Andes Mountains and grows in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, among others. The quinoa plant is only one year old.
What you can eat from the quinoa plant are the seeds and for the sake of convenience we also call them quinoa. Depending on the quinoa variety, these seeds have a white, red or black color. White quinoa is the most common and is therefore the easiest available.
Quinoa seeds have a nutty taste and look a bit like grain. The method of preparation is similar to that of rice and couscous.
Quinoa is not one of the cereals, but because it is very similar, quinoa is also called a pseudo grain.
Moreover, quinoa, unlike many cereals, is gluten free. That is why it is a good alternative for anyone who is sensitive or allergic to gluten.

Nutritional value of quinoa

Quinoa is very nutritious, it contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and E, sufficient dietary fiber and a number of important minerals. You can read more about the health benefits that this provides later on.
Nutritional values ​​per 100 grams of quinoa (cooked):
Egg whites:4,5 gram
Carbohydrates:21,3 gram
Vet:1,9 gram
Of which saturated:0,23 gram
Fiber:2,8 gram
Iron:1,5 milligram
Potassium:172 milligram
Phosphor:152 milligram
Magnesium:64 milligram

Quinoa and carbohydrates

As you can see, quinoa contains a lot of carbohydrates. That is why I am regularly asked whether quinoa fits in with a low- carbohydrate diet .
It certainly does!
This is partly due to the many fibers in quinoa. No less than 10% of the dry weight of quinoa consists of fibers. And they ensure that the carbohydrates are absorbed slowly by your body.
As a result quinoa scores well on the glycemic index. This is an index that indicates how quickly blood sugar rises after a meal.
A high glycemic index is linked to foods that cause blood sugar to rise rapidly. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to overweight, obesity and various diseases.
Quinoa has a score of 53 which means that the blood sugar level does not rise quickly after eating it. That is why quinoa fits perfectly in a healthy, low-carbohydrate diet.
By the way, there is another reason why quinoa keeps blood sugar levels stable, and that is the large amount of proteins.

Quinoa and protein

Quinoa is very protein-rich. The dry weight of quinoa consists of 16% protein and that is much more than most cereals.
Proteins are a very good fuel for our body. The energy from proteins is slowly absorbed. Much slower than the energy from carbohydrates.
This keeps your blood sugar level stable. That is healthy for your body and supports weight loss . Moreover, you will feel saturated for much longer and therefore less likely to feel hungry. And that is very nice if you want to lose weight.

Moreover, proteins offer us much more than just energy. This is due to the amino acids with which proteins are made. Amino acids are very important building blocks for our body.
They are indispensable for keeping all body cells healthy. Cells are repaired with amino acids and even replaced if necessary.
Our body cannot produce some amino acids. We need to get that through food. These amino acids are also called 'essential amino acids'.
What is special about quinoa is that it is a complete protein source because it contains all essential proteins .
In addition, quinoa contains a lot of lysine. This amino acid is missing in most vegetable proteins. Quinoa is therefore an excellent vegetable protein source.

Other healthy nutrients in Quinoa

Quinoa is a good source of antioxidants and minerals, with more magnesium, iron, zinc and fiber than in common grain types . Moreover, quinoa consists of all kinds of flat materials that have a healthy effect on us.
I will mention the most important ones below.

IronQuinoa contains 19% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron *. This mineral plays a very important role in the body, such as the transport of oxygen through our blood.

PhosphorusThe mineral phosphorus is often found in protein-rich food. It is essential for healthy bones and tissues. Quinoa contains 22% of our daily requirement for phosphorus *.

MagnesiumMagnesium is important for many different processes in our body. A western diet is known for a magnesium deficiency. But with quinoa you get 16% of your RDA *. 

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)This vitamin is indispensable for the energy supply of our body. The nervous system and the heart muscle also need vitamin B1. 9% of the RDA * is in quinoa.

SaponinThe quinoa plant has its own natural defense mechanism against insects and other vermin. This substance is called saponin and that ensures that no pesticides are needed. Quinoa is therefore usually a completely organic product. It is important to rinse quinoa before cooking.

QuercetinThis is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body against various diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers .

* The percentages ADH (recommended daily amount) are based on 100 grams of cooked quinoa.

Conclusion: quinoa is healthy and helps you lose weight

We now know that quinoa is very nutritious and healthy.
And considering all the information you have read above, it will come as no surprise that quinoa is also a good choice if you want to lose weight.
That is because quinoa contains much more protein than comparable foods such as rice and whole-grain products.

Eating enough protein is one of the most important factors for weight loss. They stimulate digestion and ensure satiety.
The fibers in quinoa also promote weight loss. Fiber ensures that the energy from carbohydrates is absorbed slowly. This also contributes to a feeling of satiety.
But perhaps the most important characteristic of quinoa is keeping blood sugar levels stable.
A stable blood sugar level ensures less weight gain. Your body is also much better able to burn body fat.

If you want to lose weight, you benefit enormously from foods that keep your blood sugar levels stable. Quinoa is such a food. And it is also super healthy too.
As far as I'm concerned, quinoa is therefore not a food hype, but a good substitute for grain products

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