If you’re concerned about your protein intake, and you want a tasty alternative to your stock carbohydrates like pasta and rice, it’s about time you added quinoa (pronounced keen-wa, from the Quechua language) to your protein nutrition. This pseudo-cereal is related to the beet and the tumbleweed (did you even know those two were related?), and packs a powerful nutritional punch in one small package.
Considered by Incas to be “the mother of all crops,” organic quinoa was treated with great respect and second only to the potato in the ancient civilization’s list of food sources. Reading about the health benefits of quinoa makes it easy to understand why.
Get the Complete Protein – with ALL of the Nine Essential Amino Acids
For starters, quinoa grain contains between 12 and 18% protein, which makes it a very smart choice not only for vegetarians and vegans, but also for omnivores who are looking to incorporate additional protein sources from food origins as opposed to supplements – quinoa protein is your best bet!. The protein that it supplies is also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids; if you had to choose one protein source for the rest of your days, quinoa should be it. Quinoa need not be consumed with complementary foods in order to form a complete protein – it’s sufficient just by itself.
Heal Quicker with Quinoa
Looking closer at these amino acids, we find that the tiny grain also has a particularly high concentration of lysine, the amino acid associated with tissue repair. Regular quinoa consumption may therefore help you heal quicker and keep your joints more elastic. Lysine also enhances calcium absorption, making quinoa a very sensible choice if you’re at risk for osteoporosis later on down the line. In fact, quinoa was once used externally to treat broken bones – it was ground up and then applied as a healing poultice. It’s also been documented as a remedy for bruises. Both of these benefits are probably due to quinoa’s lysine content.
Vitamins, Minerals and Omega Fatty Acids
In addition to its complete amino acid profile, quinoa contains noteworthy amounts of vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, potassium, and riboflavin. It’s also a significant source of the minerals copper, zinc, magnesium, and folate. Quinoa is also gluten-free, making it tolerable for people with wheat allergies and Celiac disease. And finally, quinoa contains approximately 2 grams of Omega fatty acids in a half-cup serving. Omega fatty acids are critical for optimal health, and numerous people don’t get enough of these essential nutrients from their current diets. Click here to view the complete (and impressive) nutritional profile of quinoa.
A Perfect Food
Quinoa is well known for its hardiness in extreme conditions; it can be easily cultivated in high altitudes and requires very little water – in fact, it prefers a well-drained soil. In addition, quinoa in its natural state is covered in a bitter-tasting layer of saponins, and this characteristic makes it unpopular with birds, meaning that the crop remains intact throughout the growing season. The quinoa plant therefore requires very little protection as a crop. Doesn’t quinoa sound like a perfect food? All things considered, it just may be.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.