Quinoa

Quinoa

QuinoaMost people have probably heard of the grain quinoa, which is pronounced “keen-wah”. The type of grain has gained popularity over the past couple of years since it provided many health benefits. Surprisingly, the grain has been around for many years and used in various parts of the world. This article will provide some background information on the type of grain. It will also address the health benefits of quinoa.

 Description

Quinoa is used and consumed in a similar way as various cereal grasses such as rye, oats and wheat. When looking for information about the type of grain, you can usually find the product under the grain-sections of information pages. Interestingly, quinoa is not a cereal grass itself although it is often grouped together with them. Quinoa belongs to the same family as beets, Swiss chard and spinach. It is for this reason that many researchers do not refer to quinoa as cereal but as pseudo-cereal. This term is used when describing food products which are not cereal grasses, or regular grasses, but can still be turned into flour easily. The term used for quinoa by scientist is Chenopodium quinoa.  The term originally comes from the Spanish term “quinua”. This Spanish term is turn comes from the word “kinua” in the Quechua dialect. Most people struggle to pronounce the name of the grain, but it is pronounced as  “keen-wah”. There are over 250 different types of quinoa. The fact that there are so many different types of quinoa shows that the grain is tolerant for different growing conditions. The grain cannot only grow in cold or hot temperatures, but it can also grow at freezing temperatures. Moreover, the grain can also survive high altitudes. Another great advantage to quinoa is that all parts of the plant can be consumed. Thus, one cannot only eat the grains that we can buy in the store but we can also eat the stem and the leaves of the product. The pigment which is present in the leaves of quinoa gives the seeds their bright color. While quinoa usually has a reddish color, it might be possible that you find quinoa which has a slightly different color. You can find it in the colors purple, black and orange. Once quinoa is cooked, it has a creamy and fluffy texture. The seeds usually also remain a bit crunchy. Also, while the color of the seeds is more red, the seeds become more translucent when cooked.

History

Quinoa was first found in South America. More precisely, it was found in the Andes region. This region is spread over multiple countries. These countries include Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and Colombia. Together with maize, quinoa was one of the food products which was consumed by people living in the Inca Empire. The Inca Empire stems back to around 1200 AD. As mentioned above, quinoa is highly tolerant to different weather conditions. This implies that the food was mostly available all year round and it was therefore considered important in the diet of the Inca’s. Moreover, in addition to the many nutrients the food provides, the fact that the product can easily adapt to various weather conditions made the type of grain popular among Inca’s. The Inca communities had been consuming the product for hundreds of years. The majority of quinoa which is currently consumed in the United States comes from South America. Some cultivation of quinoa takes place within the United States. The cultivation takes place in the Oregon, California and Washington. However, the total production of quinoa in the US usually remains under the 10,000 pounds. This is by no means enough for the high demand of quinoa nowadays. The country which is the largest commercial producer of quinoa is Peru. In 2010, Peru produced over 41,000 metric tons of quinoa. Bolivia is the country which is the second largest quinoa producing country in the world. Bolivia produces nearly 30,000 metric tons of quinoa each year. These two countries produce nearly 99% of all quinoa which is commercially grown in the entire world. It is therefore no surprise that the production of quinoa in these two countries is a million dollar industry. The interest in quinoa is not only limited to the Unites States. Quinoa is rapidly gaining popularity in Europe, Africa, India and other parts of Asia. The product became so popular that the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization had declared 2013 to be “The International Year of the Quinoa”.

Nutritional profile

Quinoa can be used in different ways. It can be milled and be turned into flour, just like many other types of grains and cereals. Nevertheless, when looking at the nutritional profile of quinoa, it is mostly viewed as a whole grain. Whole grains implies that no part of the seed has been removed. For example, when quinoa is milled it has a different texture compared to when it is left as a whole. Not only is most of the fiber removed during the milling process, the grain also has a finer texture. Thus, it is recommended to consume quinoa as a whole grain when wanting to gain most of its nutrients. Whole quinoa grains are a great source of minerals, vitamins and fiber. Especially fiber contributes in regulating the digestive system. Moreover, by consuming quinoa you also feel more full and you feel satisfied for a longer period of time. In contrast, white bread and white rice might provide us with carbohydrates which can be easily digested, they usually do not have a high nutritional value. Thus, it is therefore recommended to choose quinoa whenever possible. Another benefit to quinoa is the fact that it is gluten-free. This will be further explored in the next section of this article. Quinoa also contains magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium and vitamin E. Furthermore, quinoa is one of the few food products which is considered to be a complete protein. It is considered to be a complete protein since it actually contains all the nine amino acids which are needed by the human body. Quinoa also contains a dose of fatty acids. This, in combination with the fact that it is a high protein source has led to NASA proposing that quinoa should be consumed by astronauts when going on long space flights.


Gluten-free

As mentioned above, one of the benefits of quinoa is the fact that it is gluten-free. This means that it can be consumed by people who are gluten intolerant. Many people with gluten allergies struggle to find gluten-free products which are versatile. The introduction of quinoa to a gluten-free diet is therefore a great opportunity of getting all the nutrients necessary. A survey which was conducted in 2013 showed that almost one third of people living in the United States want to avoid gluten or are trying to eat as little as possible. This is due to the fact that various studies have shown that gluten-free diets are better for keeping up your health. These studies have indicated that a gluten-free diet can actually only be healthy if it is based on food which are naturally gluten-free. This is due to the fact that problems arise when people consume gluten-free products which contain refined starches. Eating these products instead of products which contain gluten does not show a difference. It is said that junk food which is gluten-free is still junk food. Thus, it is therefore recommended to eat products which are natural gluten-free, such as quinoa. Researchers are exploring how quinoa can play a more important role in gluten-free diets. For example, different studies have indicated that using quinoa instead of gluten-free ingredients can have a great influence on the nutritional value of the diet. Some of these gluten-free ingredients, for example, include rice flour, potato and corn.

How to select and store

Since quinoa has gained increased popularity over the years, most supermarkets sell quinoa as part of their assortment of grain products. If you are not able to find quinoa in your local supermarket, try and visit a natural food store since they usually sell quinoa. Otherwise it is possible going to a store which mostly sells gluten-free products. Quinoa is mostly sold in prepackaged containers, or it can be bought in bulk bins. As with many other food products which are bought in bulk bins, it is important to check the date on the bulk bin to make sure that you do not have to throw out the quinoa soon after having bought it. Pay attention to the fact that that there is no evidence of moisture inside the package. If this is the case, it is recommended to look for another package which does not have evidence of moisture. When you are not really sure how much quinoa you have to buy, keep in mind that quinoa expands when it is cooked. It actually expands to several times its original size. As mentioned earlier in the article, quinoa usually has a reddish color. However, you might be able to find black quinoa. Some stores even sell tri-color mixtures of quinoa. When storing quinoa, make sure it is in an airtight container. In this way, it will be kept for the longest period of time. When quinoa is stored in the refrigerator, it can be stored up until about six months. It is also possible to cook quinoa and then store it in the freezer.

How to include quinoa in your diet

Before using quinoa, it is recommended to rinse it a couple of times. This is because quinoa is naturally coated by saponin. Saponin naturally keeps insects away. It can be removed easily when the quinoa is rinsed a few times before cooking it. While most of the quinoa sold in the supermarkets are saponin-free, it is never a bad idea to rinse the quinoa an extra time. Most people are not too sure how to incorporate quinoa in their diet. You can use quinoa as a replacement for rice. It usually only takes about 15 minutes for quinoa to be cooked, and it tastes great with stir-fried vegetables. The flavor of quinoa can be described to be nutty and it is also considered to be a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. You can make burgers from quinoa, use it for a cold salad or have it as your part of your breakfast.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 903x
Added: 14-11-2016 02:25
Last modified: 04-12-2016 22:49

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