Try Quinoa for a Side of Super

Although quinoa is often prepared and consumed using similar cooking methods and recipes used for grains, it is actually a small seed from a plant that falls in the same classification as spinach, chard and beets. Quinoa has been around for ages but has gained significant popularity due to its high levels of many nutrients. It’s becoming a staple for the growing number of individuals following a gluten-free diet due to allergies or intolerance.

Health boosting nutrients

Quinoa is surprisingly higher in many nutrients when compared to grains. One of the biggest surprises is its high level of protein, which most grains are lacking in. Quinoa is also considered a valuable source of certain health-boosting fats, such as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acid, which is known for its ability to reduce inflammation.

Quinoa boasts quite a list of other important nutrients, like certain tocopherols, folate, zinc and phosphorus. In addition, it has impressive overall phytonutrient benefits and can provide significant amounts of antioxidants as well as antioxidant flavonoids.

Potential health benefits

Although most research to date has involved animal studies, preliminary expectations for quinoa’s human health benefits are very promising. Studies have shown that daily quinoa consumption could reduce inflammation in fat tissue and intestinal linings. These findings are a good indication that the anti-inflammatory nutrients in quinoa may also be able to help protect blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Although more studies are needed, this type of protection from inflammation may even reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

Quinoa’s high fiber and protein content – key nutrients for regulating blood sugar – give it strong potential to decrease risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Recent studies also support the idea that quinoa could lower total cholesterol and boost levels of HDL cholesterol.

Quinoa is a great alternative for individuals who need to avoid certain grains due to allergies or other adverse reactions. Because quinoa is considered an easily digestible, low-allergy food, it could become a key staple in the healthy diets of children and toddlers.

Cooking method

Quinoa should be rinsed and drained to remove its bitter protective coating before cooking, which is done following the same basic method you would use for rice. Simply measure two parts water to one part quinoa, bring the mix to a boil in a covered saucepan and lower the heat to simmer for about 15 minutes.

How to serve

Cooked quinoa has a unique nutty flavor and makes a delicious side dish on its own. It can be served warm or cold and has a similar texture to rice, bulgur and other fluffy grains, making it a great healthy substitute in dishes typically prepared using traditional grains. Try it as a replacement for bread when stuffing your next holiday roast, toss some with olive oil and your favorite veggies in place of traditional pasta salad or serve warm in place of white rice the next time you cook up a stir-fry dish.

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