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Quinoa a wonder food

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Quinoa is a lesser known grain-like food that once highly esteemed in ancient civilization like Incas. Quinoa is a small seed that resembles a cross between millet grains and sesame seeds. It referred as "mother grain" by the Incas of South America's Andean region where it is a staple but it is a pseudocereal which means that it is neither a grain nor cereal. It is related to spinach and is hardy and needs very little water to grow in higher regions of South American Andes mountains.

The seeds are covered with a bitter and toxic layer of a resin like layer called Saponin which dissuades insect and bird to feed on it. For human consumption, the seeds are treated and cleaned with alkali. This makes Quinoa seeds edible and non poisonous. Traditionally though, the saponin layer is removed by scrubbing with hand. Quinoa has been consumed by human through hundreds of years. And hence, one can find many varieties depending on its geographical origins.

Now, let's talk about its benefits and nutrients. Quinoa is a very good source of protein. In fact, it has the highest percentage (16-18%) of protein among grains! It is a balanced source of essential amino acids. Among all plants sources, Quinoa is one complete source of protein. Grains like wheat, rice and corn though rich in protein lacks amino acids like lysine in sufficient quantity. Likewise, Legumes are low in amino acids like methionine and cystine. Quinoa is also a rich source of dietary fiber which is lacking in modern American diets. Quinoa is also blessed with many minerals and vitamins like phosphorus, calcium, iron, vitamin E and several B vitamins. Quinoa has been found to relieve migraine pain because it has good amount of magnesium which helps relax blood vessels and prevents constriction and rebound dilation for those of us who struggle with weight, Quinoa is particularly useful because it is helps in controlling food cravings and is also a health comfort food. It is also a good source of complex carbohydrates for weight watchers. It has moderate glycemic index comparable to oats which prevents insulin spike. As you maybe aware insulin spike in blood signals the body to store fat. Studies have also confirmed that it's beneficial for the health of heart. Quinoa has a combination of soluble and insoluble fibers, which makes it suitable for heart patients, weight watchers, diabetics and patients suffering from hypertension. It also is rich in quercetin (a powerful phyto-chemical antioxidant), also present in wine and onions, which makes it particularly useful for hypertension.

For people who suffer from Gluten allergy, Quinoa is god send because it is gluten free and very easy to digest!

To make Quinoa even healthier, you may germinate it. Germination activates its natural enzymes, improves its vitamin status and softens the grain. Quinoa has a short germination period of two to four hours, as opposed to other grains which require 12-14 hours of overnight soaking for germination.

UN has declared Quinoa as a super crop. Limited cultivation of this super food has milted its popularity and consumption and also makes it expensive than other more commercially grown grains.

About the Author:

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