Cooked quinoa consists of 71.6% water, 21.3% carbohydrates, 4.4% protein and 1.92% fat. One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa contains 222 calories.
Carbohydrates account for 21% of cooked quinoa, which is comparable to barley and rice. About 83% of carbohydrates are starch. The rest is mainly composed of fiber, and a small amount of sugars (4%), such as maltose, galactose and ribose. Quinoa has a relatively low glycemic index (GI) of 53, which means it should not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar.
Cooked quinoa is a relatively good source of fiber, better than brown rice and yellow corn. Fiber accounts for 10% of the dry weight of cooked quinoa, of which 80-90% is insoluble fiber, such as cellulose. Insoluble fiber is associated with reducing the risk of diabetes. In addition, some insoluble fiber may ferment in your gut like soluble fiber, feeding your friendly bacteria and promoting better overall health. Quinoa also provides some resistant starch, which provides nutrients for beneficial bacteria in the intestines, promotes the formation of short-chain fatty acids, improves intestinal health and reduces the risk of disease.
Amino acids are the cornerstone of protein, and protein is the cornerstone of all tissues in your body. Some amino acids are considered essential because your body cannot produce them, so it is necessary to get them from your diet. On a dry weight basis, quinoa provides 16% protein, which is higher than most grains such as barley, rice and corn. Quinoa is considered a complete source of protein, which means it provides all nine essential amino acids. Its amino acid lysine content is abnormally high, and plants usually lack this amino acid. It is also rich in methionine and histidine, making it an excellent source of plant-based protein. The protein quality of quinoa is comparable to the high-quality protein casein found in dairy products. Quinoa does not contain gluten, so it is suitable for people who are sensitive or allergic to gluten.
A serving of 100 grams of cooked quinoa provides about 2 grams of fat. Similar to other grains, quinoa fat is mainly composed of palmitic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid.
Vitamins and minerals
Quinoa is a good source of antioxidants and minerals, providing more magnesium, iron, fiber and zinc than many common grains.
The following are the main vitamins and minerals in quinoa:
- Manganese . This trace mineral is high in whole grains and is essential for metabolism, growth and development.
- Phosphorus . This mineral is usually found in protein-rich foods and is essential for bone health and the maintenance of various body tissues.
- Copper . Copper is a mineral that is often lacking in Western diets and is important for heart health.
- Folic acid . As one of the B vitamins, folic acid is essential for cell function and tissue growth, and is considered to be especially important for pregnant women.
- Iron . This essential mineral performs many important functions in your body, such as transporting oxygen in red blood cells.
- Magnesium . Important for many processes in your body, magnesium is usually deficient in Western diets.
- Zinc . This mineral is important for overall health and participates in many chemical reactions in your body.
Other plant compounds
Quinoa contains many plant compounds that contribute to its flavor and health effects. They include:
- Saponin . These plant glycosides protect quinoa seeds from insects and other threats. They are bitter and are usually removed by soaking, washing or baking before cooking.
- Quercetin . This powerful polyphenol antioxidant may help prevent various diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer.
- Kaempferol . This polyphenol antioxidant can reduce your risk of chronic diseases, including cancer.
- Squalene. The precursor of this steroid can also act as an antioxidant in your body.
- Phytic acid . This anti-nutrient reduces the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc. Phytic acid can be reduced by soaking or sprouting the quinoa before cooking.
- Oxalate . They may bind to calcium, reduce its absorption, and increase the risk of kidney stones in sensitive individuals.
- Bitter quinoa varieties are richer in antioxidants than sweet quinoa varieties, but both are good sources of antioxidants and minerals.
A study concluded that quinoa has the highest antioxidant content among 10 common grains, fake grains and legumes. Quinoa and related crops are even considered to be a better source of flavonoid antioxidants than cranberry, which is believed to be rich in flavonoids. Keep in mind that antioxidant levels may decrease with cooking.
The health benefits of quinoa
Quinoa is rich in nutrients, rich in a variety of minerals and plant compounds, and can be used as a supplement to a healthy diet. Some data suggests that quinoa may increase your overall nutritional intake and help lower blood sugar and triglycerides.
Lower blood sugar levels
Patients with type 2 diabetes cannot use insulin effectively, leading to high blood sugar and various complications. Refined carbohydrates are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, while whole grains such as quinoa are associated with a reduced risk. A study of rats on a high fructose diet showed that eating quinoa can significantly reduce blood cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar, which are all related to type 2 diabetes. A human study compared the effects of quinoa with traditional gluten-free wheat products. Quinoa reduces triglycerides and free fatty acids in the blood. Compared with gluten-free pasta, gluten-free bread and traditional bread, it also has a smaller effect on blood sugar levels.
May help lose weight
Quinoa has many properties that make it a food that helps to lose weight. Its protein content is higher than similar foods such as rice, corn and whole wheat. Protein is considered a key factor in weight loss because it promotes metabolism and satiety. Doing so may help prevent obesity and related diseases. Fiber is also important for weight loss, and promotes the reduction of calorie intake by increasing satiety and improving intestinal health. Quinoa has higher fiber content than many whole-grain foods. Quinoa has a relatively low GI value, and low-glycemic foods have been shown to prevent overeating and reduce hunger.
Quinoa is gluten-free
As a gluten-free fake grain, quinoa is suitable for people who are intolerant or allergic to gluten, such as those suffering from celiac disease. Studies have shown that using quinoa in a gluten-free diet, instead of other common gluten-free ingredients, can significantly increase the nutritional and antioxidant value of the diet. Quinoa-based products are well tolerated and therefore may be a suitable substitute for wheat, whether in original form or products such as bread or pasta.
Quinoa is generally well tolerated with no reported side effects.
Similar to most other grains and grains, quinoa contains phytate. These may reduce your absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc.
Quinoa is a member of the Chenopodiaceae family, so it has a high oxalate content. Other species in the same family are spinach and beetroot. These foods may cause kidney stones in sensitive individuals. These effects can be reduced by rinsing and soaking the quinoa before cooking.
to sum up
Quinoa contains more nutrients than most other grains and has a relatively high protein quality. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, as well as antioxidants. Quinoa is gluten-free and may help lower blood sugar levels and help with weight loss. If you want to increase the nutrients in your diet, substituting quinoa for other grains such as rice or wheat may be a good start.