Quinoa (pronounced as Keen-wa according to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary) is always thought as a type of grain. The truth is contrary to this general belief, as quinoa is not a grain but seeds of a leafy plant related to spinach! It is considered to be a pseudocereal or pseudograin. This means it is not a true grain or true cereal. Quinoa is an organic food grown in the Andes mountains of Ecuador. It is a small, round, yellow grain that can be cooked in under 12 minutes. It has a very crunchy, light, fluffy texture with a slight nutty flavor after cooking. It was known as 'the gold of the Incas'. This fact helped them learn that consumption of this grain-like seed, increased the stamina of their warriors. They called it 'chisaya mama' that is, 'mother of all grains'. Their soldiers walked on for days, on a diet of quinoa.

Nutritional Facts About Quinoa
Quinoa is high in protein and includes all the nine essential amino acids supplements. It is the choice of grains for vegans, as it helps them take in the adequate amount of proteins, required for a healthy diet. It has lysine, an amino acid that is very important for the growth of tissues and repair mechanism. It is an excellent source of magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous and even manganese. It has a high content of fiber, that keeps the stomach full for a long time. Thus, making it ideal for people who are watching their weight and need to keep up adequate blood sugar levels.

According to the USDA nutrient database, one cup of cooked quinoa has a lot of nutrients. Following table will show the nutritional content of this grain.
Nutritional ContentAmount in 1 cup (185g)
Protein222 kcal
Fat3.55 g
Carbohydrates39.40 g
Protein8.14 g
Calcium31 mg
Iron2.76 mg
Magnesium118 mg
Phosphorous281 mg
Potassium318 mg
Sodium13 mg
Thiamin0.198 mg
Riboflavin0.204 mg
Vitamin B60.228 mg
Niacin0.762 mg
Vitamin E1.17 mg

Health Benefits of Quinoa
There are a number of health benefits related to quinoa. It has a nutty flavor and can be used in various forms. Following are some of the points which will highlight the most common and renowned health benefits.
  • High level of protein content in this grain makes it perfect for growth and repair of the body tissues. It has a higher protein content than many other major grains like wheat, barley, etc.
  • Diabetic people can use quinoa as an excellent option in place of rice. As it is high in fiber, it slows down the digestion of carbohydrates which keeps sugar level in control. Magnesium content in this grain helps in the metabolic process which also helps in regulating blood sugar.
  • It is a good source of magnesium, that helps in relaxing the blood vessels and preventing the constriction and dilation, observed in a migraine attack.
  • It also has riboflavin (vitamin B2) that is very important for producing energy within the cells. Vitamin B2 has been known to improve the energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells, thus reducing the frequency of migraines.
  • Quinoa is an excellent choice for people suffering from hypertension, ischemic heart disease and cardiac arrhythmia and helps in improving the cardiovascular health. A study conducted with post menopausal women with heart diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. helped prove this point. These women were to eat 6 servings of whole grains like quinoa every week. After the study period, these women showed low incidence of related cardiovascular diseases.
  • Quinoa has manganese and copper, that are the co-factors for super oxide dismutase enzyme. This enzyme helps protect the cells from damage by free radicals.
  • A study has also shown that foods containing high insoluble fiber like quinoa helped avoid the occurrences of gallstones in women.
Quinoa For Weight Loss
As mentioned above, it is an excellent source of magnesium. One serving of quinoa daily, and you take in 48% of your body's need for magnesium. It is also rich in iron, phosphorous as well as tryptophan. As quinoa contains calcium, iron and proteins, it proves to be a great substitute for meat and meat products. Quinoa is easy to digest as it is free of gluten. As you can see, those who are dieting and have to refrain from certain foods can eat quinoa. It is low in cholesterol and rich in fibers. It will suffice their daily need of essential nutrients and minerals as well as help maintain a healthy diet. Thus, recommended for people interested in shedding a few extra kilos.

Sprouted Quinoa
During the early days, cooked sprouted quinoa was ground to a paste and used as a healing lotion for wounds. It was also used to treat motion sickness, appendicitis and for nursing mothers. Poultice of quinoa flour was applied to mend broken bones. Sprouted quinoa is a rich source of dietary fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. It also contains vitamin B6, niacin and thiamine. It has lysine for building proteins in the body, great for the heart with its low-fat content and a source of complex carbohydrates.

Red Quinoa
Red quinoa is a rare grain, which is grown on small plots at a height of 12,000 feet on the Andean Plateau in Bolivia. It is used for preparing soups, salads, burgers, stuffing, porridges, breads, muffins, etc. It is a rich source of amino acids, that are easily absorbed by the body. Red quinoa contains dietary fibers and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Red quinoa is free from gluten and is a healthy grain choice for the heart.

This is actually a 'super-grain' that is great for people watching their weight, heart health as well as other dietary needs. You can replace this grain for white rice and enjoy its benefits. It will provide your body with a lot of protein and can fulfill about 25% of your daily iron requirement. You can either pre-soak it and have the sprouted seeds or can experiment different ways of cooking it.