Quinoa is the latest fad food that is being proclaimed as a super food with incredibly nutrition and almost magical health benefits and other properties.
Quinoa is a tiny grain-like seed obtained from a Goosefoot family plant (family Chenopodiaceae) that is native to the highland plains of the Andes in South-America. It was part of the staple diet of the Incas who described it as the 'the mother grain'.
Though most Chenopods are weeds, several foods such as chard, spinach, beets and sugar beets are from the same family. Mostly of these are eaten as green vegetables rather than seeds.
The tiny Quinoa seeds resemble those of Amaranth, which was also a staple food of the Incas, and amaranth was thought to have provided up to 80% of the caloric consumption of Incas. Amaranth belongs to a different plant family. Most grains and cereal drops are grasses.
When cooked Quinoa resembles Couscous which is made from Semolina, which is derived from the endosperm or heart of the durum wheat kernel (starch removed).
Couscous is made by mixing two parts semolina, with one part durum wheat flour (starch added back).
This article reviews the nutritional values of Quinoa and compares them with those for Amaranth, Couscous and a variety of other common seed and grains used in cooking.
The key nutrition values for 100g of raw Quinoa are summarized to the table below, which also includes data for Amaranth, Semolina and Couscous. Other tables provide nutrient comparisons with the major grains and cereals: Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Oats, Rye, Wheat and Bulgur. Nutrients are also compared with major seeds and nuts: Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts.
The outstanding nutrient attributes for Quinoa are:
The table below compares the nutrients in Quinoa with Amaranth, Semolina, Couscous The key points are:
Conclusion: Quinoa appears to be a healthier choice than semolina or couscous because of the lower calories, higher levels of vitamins, especial folates, rich levels of minerals and higher fiber. These advantages are offset to some extent by the higher level of fat.
|Nutrients - Serving Size 100 g||Nutrient Value||Percentage of Recommended Daily Allowance||Nutrient Value||Nutrient Value||Nutrient Value|
|Energy||368 Cal||18.50%||371 Cal||359 Cal||376 Cal|
|Carbohydrates||64.2 g||49.00%||65.7 g||72.84 g||76.70 g|
|Protein||14.1 g||35.00%||13.6 g||12.67 g||12.54 g|
|Total Fat||6.1 g||20.00%||7.0 g||1.05 g||0.55 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0.00%||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg|
|Dietary Fiber||7 g||18.50%||6.7 g||3.83 g||4.63 g|
|Folates (B9)||184 mcg||46.00%||82.0 mcg||71.86 mcg||50.49 mcg|
|Niacin (B3)||1.520 mg||9.50%||0.9 mg||3.31 mg||3.25 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.318 mg||24.00%||0.2 mg||0.08 mg||0.09mg|
|Thiamin (B1)||0.360 mg||30.00%||0.1 mg||0.28 mg||0.21 mg|
|Vitamin A||14 IU||0.50%||2 IU||0||0|
|Vitamin E||2.44 mg||17.00%||1.2 mg||0||0.42 mg|
|Sodium||5 mg||<1%||4 mg||0.00||16.83 mg|
|Potassium||563 mg||12.00%||500 mg||186.82 mg||193.55 mg|
|Calcium||47 mg||5.00%||159 mg||16.77 mg||25.25 mg|
|Copper||0.590 mg||65.50%||0.5 mg||0.19 mg||0.14 mg|
|Iron||4.57 mg||57.00%||7.6 mg||1.22 mg||1.26 mg|
|Magnesium||197 mg||42.00%||248 mg||47.90 mg||25.25 mg|
|Manganese||2.003 mg||87.00%||3.3 mg||0.62 mg||0.26 mg|
|Phosphorus||457 mg||65.00%||557 mg||136.52 mg||71.53 mg|
|Selenium||8.5 mcg||15.00%||18.7 mcg||90.89 mcg|
|Zinc||3.10 mg||28.00%||2.9 mg||1.05 mg||0.84 mg|
The table below shows that the nutrients in Quinoa are similar to those in most of the grains and cereals. The key differences are:
Conclusion: Quinoa appears to be a healthier choice primarily because of the higher levels of protein, folate, B-group vitamins and higher levels of Zinc and Iron. These benefits are offset by higher amounts of fat and lower levels of fiber in Quinoa
The table below shows that Quinoa is far healthier than most seeds and nuts for the following reasons:
The raw quinoa seeds have a thick outer coat (hulls). This must be removed as it is unpalatable and contains the compound saponin that has a soapy and bitter taste and can interfere with nutrient absorption.. Most grain sold has been de-hulled and pre-washed ready for cooking. Look for firm dry grains about he size of pearl millet. All the various colors are suitable. It is wise to remove the Quinoa from the pack an to wash thoroughly and sieve to ensure it is clean. Quinoa is cooked in a similar way to rice or buckwheat. Generally use three cups of water to each cup of dry quinoa. Test for doneness by examining and tasting the grains. They should be fluffy and translucency with a slightly chewy taste.
Add 1 cup of quinoa and a pinch of salt to 1 1/2 cups water and bring to the boil in a pot, stirring frequently. Turn the heat to very low and cover with a lid. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. All the water will have been absorbed into the quinoa, which will be translucent and soft. Rest for about 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.
Rinsed the quinoa well and drain through a sieve. Transfer to a rice cooker with 2 cups of water. Cook in the rice cooker for about 15 minutes (you may have to experiment to find the right setting).
Measure out the required amount using a ratio of 1 part Quinoa (well rinsed) to 2 parts water into a microwave suitable dish with a lid. Cook in full power for about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 1 minute. Stir and then return to the oven for another 3 minutes. Remove and let stand on the counter for about 2-3 minutes to finish cooking. Drain off any excess moisture.
Quinoa floor or cooked and cooled quinoa grains can be combined with wheat, maize and other cereals flours for bread and other baked good. This boosts the overall protein level and quality of the meal, adding the essential amino acid lysine.
Quinoa grains can be added to porridge, soups, curries and stews. ooked grains can be added to muesli and granola. Cooked grains are also a very health addition to homemade granola and protein bars.
Quinoa can be substituted for couscous as a side serve for a variety of meals.It can also be added to stir-fries and may Asian dishes
Quinoa can replace some or all of the cereal in slices, pies and desserts.
Cooked Quinoa can be added to protein shakes and blended with fruit and other ingredients to boost the protein levels.
|Nutrient - 100g||Quinoa||Barley||Buckwheat||Corn||Millet||Oats||Rye||Wheat||Bulgur|
|Total Fat (g)||6.07||1.16||3.41||4.75||4.22||6.90||1.63||1.71||1.34|
|Total Carbs (g)||64.16||77.72||71.51||74.27||72.84||66.28||75.86||75.90||75.86|
|Vitamin C (mg)||0.00||0.00||0.00||0.00||0.00||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|Pant. Acid (mg)||0.77||0.28||1.23||0.42||0.85||1.35||1.46||0.95||1.05|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.49||0.26||0.21||0.62||0.38||0.12||0.29||0.37||0.34|
|Vitamin A (IU)||14||22||0||214||0||0||12||8||9|
|Vitamin E (mg)||2.45||0.02||0.48||0.06||0.85||1.00||0.06|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||0.00||2.20||0.24||1.00||5.92||1.88||2.00|
|Sat. Fat (g)||0.71||0.24||0.74||0.67||0.72||1.22||0.20||0.28||0.23|
|Monounsat. Fat (g)||1.61||0.15||1.04||1.25||0.77||2.18||0.21||0.20||0.17|
|Polyunsat. Fat (g)||3.29||0.56||1.04||2.16||2.13||2.54||0.77||0.75||0.54|
|Food ( 100 g )||Cals||Tot. Carb||Fiber||Total Fat||Sat. Fat||Mono Fat||Protein||Fat to Protein Ratio|