Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa is a member of the legume family. It belongs to the same plant family as beans, peas, lentils and soybeans. Its seeds are edible and they are used in many cuisines around the world. They have been cultivated since ancient times in Central America and South America where it was first domesticated by Aztecs some 2,000 years ago. Today quinoa is grown in over 30 countries worldwide.

The seed contains high levels of protein, iron, calcium, zinc and manganese. It is one of the most nutritious foods available today because it provides all essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) along with vitamins A and C. These nutrients provide energy to the body’s cells and keep them healthy. Quinoa also helps lower cholesterol level due to its fiber content which prevents clogging of arteries.

In addition to being a good source of protein, quinoa is also rich in folate, vitamin B6 and magnesium. It is also known to contain phytochemicals such as lignans and polyphenols which may have antioxidant properties.

Health Benefits of Quinoa:

1. Protein – Quinoa contains up to 35% protein.

It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids needed for human nutrition. This makes it a suitable and healthy option for people who do not eat any kind of meat.

2. Iron content – Eaten in its cooked form, one cup of quinoa provides more than twice the daily requirement of iron for women and children.

3. Calcium, manganese and magnesium – This dietary supplement promotes healthy bones and prevents conditions like osteoporosis.

One serving of this food also helps promote normal blood clotting and nerve function.

4. Antioxidants – Quinoa is a good source of antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenolic acids and anthocyanins.

These are micronutrients that protect the body from harmful free-radicals and can prevent conditions like heart disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases.

5. Digestive health – Quinoa is gluten-free and has a soft texture that helps ease digestion.

This makes it suitable for people who have food allergies or weak stomachs.

How to Eat Quinoa

Quinoa can be cooked and served as a porridge or gruel just like oats or rice. It can also be ground into flour and baked into bread. 15g of uncooked quinoa provides about 90kcal.

When cooked it expands to about 3-4 times its original size. 1 cup of uncooked white quinoa yields about 5 cups cooked. This may seem like a lot, but it can be stored for future use by freezing it in meal-sized portions. Quinoa has a delicate and slightly nutty flavor. It does not have the strong or bitter taste of other unrefined grains.

Quinoa is used in many recipes like pilafs, soups, stews, salads and desserts. It can be prepared just like rice – boiled or fried. In its dried form, it can be cooked with water or any type of liquid – vegetable stock, fruit juice, cow’s milk, chicken broth etc. It can also be sprouted and added to salads or sandwiches.

Quinoa seeds have a bitter coating called saponin which needs to be rinsed off before cooking. This can be done by placing the seed in a bowl and rinsing it with water three or four times until the water is clear.

Quinoa is used to make bread, biscuits and pasta. It can also be cooked with eggs, cheeses and vegetables to make tasty and nutritious frittatas, quiches and omelets. Quinoa flour can be used in the place of wheat or rice flour when baking cakes, cookies or breads. It can also be added to pancake batter or any other cooked cereal mix.

Due to its nutritional content and versatility, quinoa is a suitable substitute for people with gluten intolernace or Celiac disease. It is often used as bird food because of its high protein content.

Quinoa seeds can be stored for up to two years if kept in a cool, dry place. They should always be stored in air-tight containers to prevent them from getting damp or eaten by insects.

2. Lamb

Lamb is the meat obtained from a male sheep that is less than a year old. In 2013, an estimated 34.5 million sheep were slaughtered in the US alone.

Nutritional Value

100g of cooked lamb provides about 175 kcal, 31 g of protein, 0 g of carbohydrates and 8 g of fat. It is rich in vitamin B12, vitamin B6, zinc, selenium and riboflavin.

Why Lamb is Good for You

Lamb is a great source of protein and fat. It also contains high levels of certain vitamins and minerals that are vital for the immune system, cell growth and repair, regular heart function and accelerate the metabolism of fat.

Lamb is naturally low in sodium and cholesterol, making it suitable for people who are on a diet or suffering from hypertension or cardiovascular problems.

Lamb should not be eaten in excess by children, pregnant women and people who have epilepsy, kidney or liver problems.

How to Eat Lamb

Lamb can be eaten in the form of chops, leg, shoulder, ribs or shank. It can be roasted whole, cut into pieces or made into kebabs. Lamb is usually flavored with herbs like rosemary, garlic and mint. It can also be cooked with fruit and wine. Lamb can also be cooked with vegetables like tomatoes, peas and green beans.

Lamb is usually served with potatoes or couscous. It can also be used in pasta sauces, casseroles and even stews.

3. Halibut

Halibut is a type of flatfish that lives on the ocean floor. It is a popular food fish that can be found in the waters of Chile, China, Japan, New Zealand, Greenland and Scandinavia.

Nutritional Value

100g of cooked halibut provides about 142 kcal, 22.5 g of protein, 0 g of carbohydrates and 1.6 g of fat. It is rich in vitamin B12, vitamin D and selenium.

Why You Should Eat Halibut

Halibut is a good source of lean protein. It also contains all of the essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it suitable for people who are watching their weight or suffering from high blood pressure or heart disease.

How to Choose and Store

Look for firm flesh that is free of any dark spots, bruises or puffy areas. Halibut should not be stored in the fridge because it can make the flesh wet and soft. The best way to store it is wrapped in a thick cloth or paper towel, placed inside a ziplock bag and stored in the coldest part of your freezer.

How to Cook

To prepare, wash thoroughly under cold running water. Cut away any dark or soft flesh and scrape off the blood lines. Halibut can be cooked using a variety of methods including baking, boiling, broiling, grilling, poaching and steaming.

It is often served with pasta, rice or potatoes. Halibut can be flavored with herbs and spices like basil, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, mustard seeds, onions, paprika, parsley, pepper and turmeric.

4. Lamb

Lamb is the meat obtained from a male sheep that is less than one year old. It has always been popular amongst Mediterranean, African and Asian cultures. The meat of older sheep is called mutton.

Nutritional Value

100g of cooked lamb provides about 158 kcal, 28 g of protein, 0.3 g of carbohydrates and 8 g of fat. It is rich in vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and zinc.

Why You Should Eat Lamb

Lamb contains high quality protein. It is a good source of the minerals selenium and zinc and it also contains good amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and iron.

How to Choose and Store

Look for lean cuts with a creamy white color. The meat should not be pinkish or red, which may indicate that the lamb is too young and has not been properly stunned before slaughter.

Avoid lamb that has a sour smell. Purchase the amount required and store the rest in airtight containers in the freezer.

How to Cook

Lamb may be roasted, grilled, stewed, minced, barbecued or fried. It is often flavored with herbs and spices like allspice, cardamom, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, garlic powder, nutmeg, paprika, pepper and salt.

It is commonly paired with ingredients like feta cheese, garlic, mint, onions, potatoes, rosemary, sage, spinach and tomatoes.

5. Pork

Pork is the meat obtained from a pig. It can be enjoyed in many ways including as bacon, ham, pork chops and sausage.

Nutritional Value

100g of cooked pork provides about 227 kcal, 27 g of protein, 0 g of carbohydrates and 16 g of fat. It is rich in vitamin B12 and selenium.

Why You Should Eat Pork

Pork is a good source of high quality protein and essential fatty acids. It is also a good source of vitamins B12 and B6, biotin, phosphorus, niacin, potassium, sodium, vitamin D and zinc.

How to Choose and Store

Look for fresh pork that is firm to the touch, with uniform color. The fat should be creamy white. You should avoid pork with a strong smell, dry looking skin or leaking fat.

Keep pork refrigerated in its original packaging, if possible, and use it within two days. Once cooked, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

How to Cook

Pork can be barbecued, braised, broiled, fried, roasted or stir-fried. It may be flavored with herbs and spices like allspice, chili flakes, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, garlic, mustard powder, nutmeg, pepper and salt.

It is commonly paired with ingredients like apples, apricots, cabbage, carrots, celery, chili sauce, cider vinegar, eggplant, fennel, honey, lemons, oranges, plums tomatoes and wine.

6. Veal

Veal is the meat from milk-fed calves. It has been popular in many European cuisines for centuries.

Nutritional Value

100g of cooked veal provides about 118 kcal, 15 g of protein, 0.1 g of carbohydrates and 4.5 g of fat. It is rich in vitamins B12 and B6 and selenium.

Why You Should Eat Veal

Veal is a good source of high quality protein. It is also a good source of choline, copper and phosphorus and a very good source of selenium.

How to Choose and Store

Veal is available as steaks, chops, roasts, cutlets and liver. You should choose pieces that are light pink to pale red in color. The meat should be moist and the fat creamy white.

Sources & references used in this article:

Phytochemicals in quinoa and amaranth grains and their antioxidant, anti‐inflammatory, and potential health beneficial effects: a review by Y Tang, R Tsao – Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2017 – Wiley Online Library

Quinoa bitterness: Causes and solutions for improving product acceptability by D Suárez‐Estrella, L Torri, MA Pagani… – Journal of the Science …, 2018 – Wiley Online Library

Quinoa intake reduces plasma and liver cholesterol, lessens obesity-associated inflammation, and helps to prevent hepatic steatosis in obese db/db mouse by GD Noratto, K Murphy, BP Chew – Food chemistry, 2019 – Elsevier