If you regularly follow any health related news then you probably know one of the best things you can do is add more healthy whole grains to your diet, and one of the best and most interesting of these healthy grains is quinoa. Contrary to popular belief, this is not something strictly reserved for vegetarians anymore since we know it is capable of lowering cholesterol and adding fiber to your diet. But just what are some of the benefits of this unique grain?
Nutritional Make-Up of Quinoa:
One of the best reasons for using this grain is that it has a very high protein content (1 cup, cooked, has 8 grams of protein). It is also cholesterol free and very low in fat, 3 grams of fat and only 222 calories to be specific. Of course it’s important to keep in mind that the actual amount of calories can vary based on what is added to the grain. According to the nutritional profile of quinoa, it also contains 39 grams of carbohydrates, 31mg of calcium, 2 mg of iron, 2 mg of zinc, and 318mg of potassium.
Quinoa & Phytonutrients:
Another incredible benefit of quinoa is the fact that it contains high amounts of phytonutrients. For example, this includes antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol. These substances are actually able to help the body protect itself by fighting off diseases and free radicals. Quinoa also includes a high number of additional substances and nutrients that are able to lower inflammation.
Inflammation is increasingly being considered by scientists as one of the root causes of all types of dysfunction within the body. In other words, eating quinoa regularly could help our bodies fight off disease and infection while simultaneously aiding in the growth and repair of healthy tissue.
Quinoa & Cholesterol Reduction:
Quinoa contains nearly twice as much fiber when compared the most other grains. This is great news since fiber is an essential nutrient in terms of regulating blood sugar levels. It is also essential for proper digestion. People who eat diets high in fiber normally end up lowering their cholesterol levels, which is a great help for those looking to lose weight in a healthy manner.
Additionally, quinoa has a very low glycemic index so it is also a good choice for diabetics, as it will not cause large spikes in blood sugar levels.
Stimulates The Metabolism:
Anyone interested in losing weight knows that stimulating the metabolism is an important part of dieting. Unfortunately, reducing overall caloric intake is almost guaranteed to have the metabolism slow down rather than speed up. Quinoa actually contains a high amount of riboflavin, which is one of the vitamins known to help increase metabolic activity.
This can lead to the regulation and promotion of energy in the brain and muscle cells at the same time. Interestingly, riboflavin has also been proven to relieve migraines.
Since quinoa is known to be a very quick-cooking grain, there are tons of healthy recipes to try. These range from something as simple as whipping up a quinoa salad (just mix with lettuce, black beans, tomatoes, and salsa) to something more complex such as quinoa-stuffed grape leaves. The main thing to remember is that quinoa is a very versatile grain that can be used in an endless amount of recipes for lunch, dinner or even breakfast time. The only limitation is your own creativity!
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Art Costas is a nutritonist who specializes in optimizing daily diets for people looking to make a positive change in their lifestyle.