Five health benefits of eating quinoa

Quinoa’s popular for a reason — it’s full of fibre, it’s a complete protein, and it’s great for your heart. Start your day with this healthy, delicious breakfast recipe.

by
Julie Daniluk

Quinoa is quickly becoming the nutritional superstar of the decade. Quinoa is not actually a grain — it’s a seed, which means it’s high in protein and fibre and provides balanced energy and satiety. One cup of quinoa has about as much protein as two deli slices of chicken breast, or about 15 percent protein by weight.

One big reason why quinoa has come into fashion is it’s easy to prepare. In the old days of health food stores, quinoa was sold in bulk and it had to be rinsed many times to remove the bitter saponins. Now quinoa is sold pre-rinsed, and with a 15-minute cooking time. I think it’s a wonderful replacement for refined rice. And although people love brown rice, a common complaint is the 45 minutes it takes when you get home to cook it. If you want an instant way to enjoy quinoa in the morning, try it rolled. Just like rolled oats, rolled quinoa cooks in just a few minutes. 

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that enjoying “three or more servings of whole grain foods everyday could reduce the chances of developing metabolic syndrome — a condition marked by a combination of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control, low HDL ‘good’ cholesterol and high blood fats.” Quinoa’s a great choice for one of those servings because its high fibre helps regulate blood sugar by slowing down the conversion of complex carbohydrates into sugar. It helps you feel full and reduces cravings, making it a perfect weight loss tool.

Five more reasons to try quinoa
1. Quinoa promotes healthy bone growth: Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids used by the body as building blocks for the development of muscle tissue and necessary metabolic enzymes. Protein is also necessary for the absorption of calcium into the bones and the development of collagen, as well as for the growth factors involved in healthy growth of the bone matrix.

2. Quinoa can help reduce cholesterol: In a 2010 study conducted in the Netherlands, rats bred to have high cholesterol were fed quinoa. These rats were also fed a high fructose diet that should further increase their harmful cholesterol (LDL) levels. After quinoa was introduced to the diet, the detrimental effects of the cholesterol and fructose began to reverse and cholesterol levels were returning to normal.

3. Quinoa is high in riboflavin: Riboflavin is a member of the B-vitamin family, which has been shown in recent studies to aid in the elimination and prevention of migraine headaches by improving the transport of oxygen into the cell. This prevents migraines from occurring and aids in their relief.

4. Quinoa’s high magnesium content promotes cardiovascular health: Magnesium has been the subject of many studies for its role in preventing hypertension through its ability to relax the small muscles that clamp down on our blood vessels. Recent research has also shown that a deficiency in magnesium actually increases the hormone (angiotensin II) that is responsible for increasing blood pressure, so magnesium has a two-fold effect on our heart health.

5. Quinoa can help prevent gallstones: Quinoa is high in insoluble dietary fibre, which has been shown to lessen the occurrence of gallstones by reducing the stagnation of bile and lowering the total blood triglycerides, which are two of the major components to gall stone formation. Quinoa is a great way to get fibre from a gluten-free source.

Goji quinoa granola recipe

I created this recipe so everyone can enjoy the goodness of quinoa, even when they’re crazy busy in the morning. This is smash hit around my house. The only trouble is making enough of it, as it has become a favourite treat! Instead of the overly sweet commercial granola that is full of fat and sugar, I let the dried fruit be the main event. It tastes great on top of stewed apples or yogurt.

Ingredients:
1 large ripe banana
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame butter — substitute another nut butter if unavailable)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 cups rolled quinoa
3/4 cup sliced hazelnuts
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup goji berries

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 275 F.

2. Mash the banana in a large bowl with a fork. Add the rest of the wet ingredients, and stir to combine.

3. Add all the dry ingredients, except for the flax seeds, cranberries and goji berries, into the wet mixture.  Stir it all together and spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

4. Break up large clumps to ensure even cooking.

5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or longer if you have a cool oven. Stir every 15 minutes to ensure even browning, until the granola is starting to crisp up and the nuts are getting toasty.

6. Remove the granola from the oven and stir in the flax seeds and dried berries.  Allow granola to cool completely on the pan before transferring to an airtight container.  It will get crunchy as it cools.

Makes 4 cups (Consider doubling or tripling this recipe!)

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon-to-be-published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

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