With the newest gluten-free food craze, everyone is looking for something that will satisfy the need for a grain but isn’t one. And while most people believe that this non-grain is a newcomer on the market, it was actually considered to be a superstar back in 1955. A relative of spinach, beets, and chard, quinoa is a versatile food. The portion we’re most familiar with is the seed portion, but the entire plant is edible.
Quinoa answers the cry for a complete food because while no single food supplies all nutrients necessary for sustaining life, quinoa comes very close, closer than any other plant or animal. Quinoa is considered to be a complete protein in that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that the body is not able to make. We rely on food for them, usually meat.
Quinoa is also alkaline forming, while not strongly, it is not acid forming like most other grains. For people who are looking for a grain-like substitute for grains, but are on an alkaline diet, quinoa fits the bill.
Because quinoa is not a grain, it is safe for people who are on reduced or gluten-free diets. Millions of people find that they feel better reducing gluten grains and quinoa is an excellent substitute. Some people liken its texture to couscous. It makes an excellent substitute for rice, pasta, and oats.
More available now than in years past, quinoa can now be found in traditional supermarkets and while it might already be rinsed a little, we still recommend an additional rinse until there is no longer any cloudiness to it. This removes a bitter taste that people new to quinoa find displeasing.
Unlike most foods, quinoa contains both complex carbohydrates and a complete protein, important for maintaining energy and building lean muscle. It is considered to be a rich source of zinc, selenium, and multiple B vitamins that we use for energy, mood, and our ability to concentrate.
A 2010 study in the Netherlands put rats on a high fructose diet to increase their harmful level of LDL cholesterol. Once they were put on a quinoa diet, the bad effects of their fructose-laden diet were reversed and their cholesterol levels returned to normal.
I’m not quite sure how to define a superfood…but quinoa is coming close to it.