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Quinoa or quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa willd) is a pseudograno or pseudocereal belonging to the botanical family Chenopodiaceae, the same as green leafy vegetables such as spinach and chard and vegetables such as beetroot or beetroot.

In addition to quinoa there are other very nutritious pseudocereals that bring health benefits, such as buckwheat or buckwheat and amaranth.

Quinoa is not a cereal, this is because it is not part of the grass family (poaceae); cereals such as wheat, barley, spelt, rice and oats. However, quinoa remains a seed that is grown as cereal and also ground to be used as flour.

This pseudograus can be sown in arid soils, does not require much water and is able to survive unfavorable climatic conditions; because of these characteristics, this plant was known to the Incas as “mother seed”.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the countries with the highest quinoa production are Peru, Bolivia and the United States; where Peru and Bolivia account for almost 80% of the world’s production. For its part, the data indicate that the United States imports 45% of the world’s quinoa production. Other quinoa producing countries are Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Colombia.

Quinoa properties

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the nutritional content of quinoa is comparable to that of other grains such as maize, wheat, rice and beans. Being able to overcome them, on many occasions, in the content of some nutrients.

The following table shows the number of calories and macronutrient content for each of the grains.

quinoa nutritional table

Quinoa is one of the grains that has the most vegetable protein. However, their true value lies in the quality of these proteins. As quinoa contains the eight essential amino acids that the human body requires incorporating through food, these are: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

With the exception of quinoa, most grains or cereals contain a low content of essential amino acids. While the grains have a low content of lysine and legumes retain a lower content of the amino acids azufrados methionine and cysteine (a derivative of methionine); quinoa contains all these substances in considerable proportion.

While these amino acids are necessary for people of all ages, they turn out to be of vital importance in the development of children between the ages of 3 and 10.

Quinoa also contains dietary fiber, which although not digestible, improves and facilitates digestion, is satiating and prevents constipation and problems in the digestive system such as colon cancer. The amounts of fiber in quinoa vary according to the species and according to whether or not quinoa is cooked. Raw quinoa contains between 13.6 g and 16.0 g of fiber per 100 g of weight according to FAO.

As for its fat content, quinoa contains 6.3 g per 100 g of weight; which makes it one of the grains that has the most calories. However, the fats present in quinoa are healthy fats, as their content is mainly based on linoleic acid (omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega 3).

Quinoa is also a rich source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. To take advantage of quinoa minerals, it is necessary to remove and discard the outer layer of the grain since it contains saponins; a substance that reduces mineral absorption and is responsible for the bitter taste of quinoa.

The vitamins most present in quinoa are thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid (vitamin B9) and niacin (vitamin B3). It also contains vitamin E, but it decreases after quinoa is processed and cooked.

Benefits of quinoa

  • Quinoa, as noted above, is considered by many to be a superfood, appreciated for its rich nutritional contribution. Due to its high protein value, it is an exceptional food for all types of people, especially those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets.
  • Another benefit that we find in quinoa is that, being a food of plant origin, it is free of cholesterol, this added to its content in healthy fats (monounsaturated fats), these seeds help us preserve cardiovascular health.
  • On the other hand, quinoa may be a dish that replaces pastes for people with diabetes melliutus or who wish to reduce carbohydrate intake; because if prepared for a cooking time of less than 15 minutes, not enough starch will be released to alter the glycemic indices of diabetics.
  • A study that sought to measure the effect of quinoa consumption as an adjuvant on the nutritional intervention of prediabetic subjects; obtained that intake of quinoa for 28 days caused a decrease in body mass index, increased feeling of fullness and fullness, decreased the level of glycosylated hemoglobin and kept basal glucose levels stable.
  • Quinoa is a gluten-free food, so it can be consumed by people with celiac disease. gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
  • Quinoa phytoestrogens help prevent cases of osteoporosis, which is especially interesting in women who have gone through menopause or are at that stage.

Source: ecoagricultor

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