Try Quinoa! It’s Healthy and Let’s Face It, Rice Gets BoringNutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
It’s Monday, and if you want to take an extra step in being proactive about your health, make today a #MeatlessMonday. If you go meatless every Monday for a year (52 days total), you may reduce your risk for certain diseases including cancer, heart disease and more.
And for today’s Meatless Monday we are going to step outside the world of fruits and veggies, and take a closer look at a non-gluten grain: quinoa (KEEN-wah). Quinoa has been consumed in South America for thousands of years.
And it’s no wonder the Incas called quinoa the “mother of all grains.” This edible seed has all nine essential amino acids and packs about 8 grams of protein per one cooked cup. Who says you have to get protein from meat?
Quinoa is so nutritious and satiating, NASA considers it a perfect inflight meal for astronauts on long space missions. And quinoa makes a great meal for those of us on Planet Earth, too!
Quinoa has a glycemic index score of 53, which is considered a low glycemic index food. Low glycemic index foods are good for blood sugar control, so quinoa may be a great food for people who suffer from diabetes.
And just look at some of the nutrients in one cup of cooked quinoa:
- Fiber, 5.2 gm. Fiber helps relieve constipation, soothe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and may even help prevent colon cancer. It can help you feel fuller longer and reduce cravings and hunger pangs. Quinoa may also help you maintain a healthy weight!
- Calcium, 31 mg. An adult between 19-50 years of age (male or female) in general should aim to have about 1,000 mg. of calcium per day. This mineral is needed to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also needed for clotting of the blood to stop bleeding and for proper functioning of the nerves, muscles and heart. The National Cancer Institute conducted a study that monitored calcium intake in 135,000 men and women. The subjects who had a calcium intake of more than 700 mg. per day had a 35-45% reduced risk of cancer of the distal (lower) part of the colon than those who had a calcium intake of 500 mg. or less per day.
- Phosphorus, 281 mg. Adults 19 and older usually need about 700 mg. of phosphorus daily. This mineral often does not get the credit it deserves, but it does so much for your body. Phosphorus is almost as abundant in your body as calcium and helps calcium build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also important for how your body stores and uses energy, repairs cells and is needed to make proteins like the one responsible for the oxygen-carrying capabilities of our red blood cells.
- Magnesium, 118 mg. Magnesium helps with blood pressure regulation and also has antioxidant properties. Several studies have also shown an improvement in the severity of symptoms of depression when study participants were given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime.
- Potassium, 318 mg. Potassium may help lower blood pressure by balancing out negative effects of salt. According to Harvard Health, “[w]hen it comes to fighting high blood pressure, the average American diet delivers too much sodium and too little potassium. Eating to reverse this imbalance could prevent or control high blood pressure and translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease.”
- Folate, 78 µg. Folate (also called vitamin B9) is a very important nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folate may also help prevent cancer and heart disease and improve mental health. A study from Harvard Health demonstrated folate may also be useful in treating symptoms of depression.
- Choline, 42 mg. Choline is a nutrient that was recognized as an essential nutrient by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1998. “The importance of choline in the diet extends into adulthood and old age. In a study of healthy adult subjects deprived of dietary choline, 77% of the men and 80% of the postmenopausal women developed signs of subclinical organ dysfunction (fatty liver or muscle damage)," reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Lutein + zeaxanthin, 98 µg. These are carotenoids (plant pigments that give many fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors), and they are also found in quinoa. They are acually antioxidants located in the eye. It makes sense that these nutrients may be great for eye health. “Lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye,” reports the American Optometric Association.
In addition to having so many great nutrients, what I also love about quinoa is its versatility. You can do so much with this grain, and there are three main types of quinoa: red, black and white
You can make quinoa and vegetable stuffed bell peppers for Meatless Monday. You can even change things up by eating quinoa for breakfast. Click here for some cool recipes if you want a break from oatmeal and cereal.
Healthy food contains many nutrients that can keep you healthy and happy. If you have not tried quinoa, the health benefits should motivate you to try it.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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