Food: The health benefits of quinoa

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Metro Creative Connection

Whole grains are vital components of a healthy diet. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, whole grains provide a host of nutritious benefits, including some that were discovered only recently.

The AND notes that whole grains were long seen as rich in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and heart health. That’s still true, and WebMD notes that many whole grains provide between one and four grams of fiber per serving, an amount that puts them on the same level as various fruits and vegetables in regard to fiber content. But recent research has found that whole grains also are rich in protein, B vitamins and trace minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc.

Quinoa is one highly nutritious whole grain that’s easy to find and even easier to prepare. Quinoa is considered a complete protein, which means it includes all nine essential amino acids. Why is that important? To understand that, it’s best to first consider the importance of protein. Protein is comprised of 20 amino acids, 11 of which the body can produce on its own. For optimal health, the body needs all 20 amino acids. Diet is the only way to get the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. Complete proteins like quinoa provide all nine in a single food, making them especially healthy, convenient options for people looking to ensure they get enough protein in their diets.

As noted, whole grains are good sources of iron, and quinoa is no exception. That’s a considerable benefit, as iron is an essential part of hemoglobin, a red protein that’s responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood.

Quinoa also is a good source of magnesium. That’s another significant benefit of including quinoa in your diet, as the Office of Dietary Supplements notes low levels of magnesium have been linked to various ailments, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Pregnant women or women hoping to become pregnant, as well as their male partners, also can discuss the benefits of including quinoa in their diets with their physicians. That’s because quinoa is high in the B vitamin folate, which is needed to perform various functions in the body, including the production of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow. Adequate folic acid consumption before and during pregnancy can protect against miscarriages and congenital defects. And while women may be familiar with the importance of folate regarding their pregnancies or future pregnancies, men also may need to monitor their folate intake. A 2013 study from researchers at McGill University in Montreal found that paternal folate deficiency in mice was associated with a significant increase in congenital deformities.