What is the healthiest quinoa? And is quinoa really a superfood?
Perhaps you want to add more healthy foods to the mix, so you’re thinking about quinoa. And you’re wondering about the healthiest quinoa to choose, and also why it gets such buzz as a superfood.
We are here to help. Today, we’ll cover quinoa, what to look for before buying, and what benefits you can expect from this healthy powerhouse food.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is primarily considered a grain, although by strict definition it is not actually a grain. But because it is closest to this food group in nutritional content, it is considered a “pseudograin.” It is now grown around the world, but its origins are in South America.
There are thousands of types of quinoa, although the most common types that are grown are red, white, and black.
Most importantly, quinoa is absolutely packed with nutrients, and all of the following having more than 10% of Daily Value: (1)
- Vitamin B6
Four Things to Consider When Buying the Healthiest Quinoa
1) Don’t Worry About The Color of Quinoa
As you’ve probably noticed, quinoa comes in different colors, so you might be wondering which one is best. Don’t worry about it. All quinoa varieties have similar nutritional profiles, and it mostly comes down to preference.
So if you’re thinking in terms of rice, and knowing that brown rice is a better pick than white. This is not the same choice, so color is a non-issue. All colors of quinoa are equally healthy.
2) Don’t Worry About Organic And Non-Organic
Unlike some crops and plants, quinoa has a naturally occurring bitter-tasting compound called saponin. Thanks to it, farmers don’t have to spray it much to keep pests away.
Additionally, quinoa is not a genetically altered grain. What you buy in the store, be it strictly ‘organic’ or not, is mostly as nature intended.
3) Mix It Up
Since quinoa comes in different shapes and sizes, it’s worth mixing it up to find which variety you enjoy better. For instance, white quinoa is the least bitter variety, where black varieties are chewier in texture and might be better for cold dishes like salads.
4) Get The Pre-Rinsed Variety
As we discussed above, quinoa grains are coated in a bitter-tasting compound called saponin. Eating it won’t do you harm, but it can ruin the taste of your dish. To prevent this, simply buy pre-rinsed quinoa. It typically isn’t more expensive, so you have nothing to lose.
3 Proven Health Benefits of Regular Quinoa Consumption
1. Jam-Packed With Essential Nutrients
The most notable benefit of quinoa is its rich nutritional profile. Specifically, a cup of quinoa offers:
- 8 grams of protein
- More than half of your daily manganese needs
- A third of your daily magnesium and phosphorus needs
It’s also rich in minerals copper, zinc, iron, potassium, and vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9, and E.
2. It Offers Plenty of Gut-Healthy Fiber
Research finds that dietary fiber is integral for our cardiovascular health and digestion. Folks who consume more fiber are also at a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer down the road.
The great news is, quinoa is beneficial on that front, too. It offers plenty of fiber – between 10 and 17 grams per 100 grams.
3. It Has a Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is a measure of what impact carb-rich foods have on your blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods with a high glycemic index cause a sudden rise in blood sugar and a subsequent spike in insulin levels.
In contrast, low GI foods like quinoa get broken down more slowly and release their energy more gradually. As a result, our blood sugar rises more steadily, we don’t release huge amounts of insulin quickly, and we don’t feel the dreaded sugar crash afterward.
Plus, this allows us to feel more energized for longer and not feel as hungry.
Summing Up All the Good
There is a strong consensus in the nutrition community that quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And the title superfood is indeed well deserved. So make it a part of your weekly diet, and you’ll enjoy the many benefits of this tremendously healthy food. (2)
Click to see more superfoods.
- Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Daily Value on the New Nutrition Facts Label. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/daily-value-new-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels.
- Jones, T. (2021). What Is Quinoa? One of The World’s Healthiest Foods. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-quinoa.