QUINOA  – Nutritional Profile

Ancient Andean civilisations placed great store on the value of quinoa and more recently as its true nutritional content has been seen it is beginning to see a resurgence of in popularity.

A 100g sample of the grain provides  64g of carbohydrates (52g starch and 7g dietary fibre), 6g of fat, 14g of protein and thiamine (vitamin b1) of 0.36mg, riboflavin (vitamin  b2) of 0.32mg, vitamin b6 of 0.32mg and folate (vitamin b9) of 184 mcg

Quinoa is also a valuable source of essential element as a single 128g portion contains 222 calories or 12 % of recommended daily allowance (RDA).  It also contains 58% of the RDA for manganese, 32% RDA for tryptophan, 30% RDA for magnesium, 28% for phosphorus, 21% RDA for fibre, 19% for folate and 18% RDA for copper.

QUINOA  – Health Benefits

As a recently discovered ancient grain quinoa has come under scrutiny for its nutritional benefits.  It is an extremely good source of protein as it contains all nine amino acids forming this group.  As such it is a useful foodstuff when people are unable to eat normal sources of protein such as meat and fish.

The levels of magnesium present make quinoa a good food to include in the diet on a regular basis for known migraine sufferers.  The central cause of migraines is a tension in blood vessels and magnesium is shown to promote relaxation of blood vessels  and so prove useful in managing migraines.  Magnesium is also important for good cardio-vascular health.  The same relaxing effect on blood vessels will contribute to lower blood pressure.  In addition, antioxidant protection is usually afforded when enzymes such as dismutase are present with levels of magnesium.   Cell damage caused by oxidisation is reduced and damage caused by free radicals to red blood cells is also reduced.

Whole grain products such as quinoa are shown to benefit cardio-vascular health generally.  Harvard researchers looked at the effect og whole grain foods eaten as part of a regular diet and found that a daily morning bowl of a whole grain food reduced risk of heart attack by 29%.  Similar benefits were seen for post-menopausal women.  A 3 year study for the American Heart Journal showed that six servings a week slowed the progress of atherosclerosis’ and stenosis of the arteries.

The fibre in whole grains such as quinoa will also provide the most effective protection against some forms of cancer.  Women eating 13g a day of fibre were shown to have a 41% reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer compared to women taking fibre from a fruit based diet who saw cancer rates reduced by 29%

The American Lung Association are suggesting that childhood asthma rates can be reduced by up to 50%  where whole grains are eaten regularly alongside fish products following an analysis of a study undertaken in Holland by the Dutch National Institute of Public Health. The study demonstrated a clear reduction in the incidence of wheezing and current asthma in those regularly eating fish and wholegrain foods.

Most recently of all, the link between whole foods and type 2 diabetes has been demonstrated.  An 8 year study in America compared two groups , one eating magnesium rich foods such as quinoa and another low magnesium diet group.  A link between magnesium and the progress of type 2 diabetes was seen but most significant was the improvements in blood sugar control for those eating whole grains.  This is due to the slow release of sugars from whole grains type products as complex carbohydrates are more slowly processed.

QUINOA  – Product History

Technically quinoa is a pseudo cereal in that it is not a member of the grass family from where all grains come.  It is more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweed than to cereals. It originates from the Andean areas of South America and was originally cultivated for human consumption some 3,000 years ago.  Each grain is coated with a bitter tasting saponin that needs to be removed through processing before it can be eaten.

The grain, once processed to remove the saponin can be a variety of colours including orange, pink, red, purple or black.