Food Focus: Quinoa

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Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is an amazing superfood with a rich and ancient background. It dates back more than 5,000 years ago when it was cultivated by the Incas. They referred to it as the “mother of all grains” and “the gold of the Incas” because they believed it sustained their people and increased the stamina of their warriors.  Although many people consider quinoa to be a grain, it’s a seed and is related to chard and spinach. Here are a few of the many health benefits of quinoa:

1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids, making it a great source of protein for vegetarians.

2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fiber helps to relieve constipation, prevents heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. It lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, and may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar, keeps you full for longer and is relatively low in calories, making it great for weight-loss.

3. Quinoa is nutrient dense. It is high in magnesium, lysine, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and zinc.

This nutritious powerhouse is also gluten-free and a great addition to a healthy diet. Sometimes it can leave a bitter taste because of a waxy coating it contains, so for best cooking results, soak it for a few hours or overnight before cooking. When cooked properly, it has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture and a delicious nutty flavor. Try it tossed in salads, as a breakfast porridge or as its own side dish in place of rice.

For quinoa, and grains in general, the majority of digestion occurs in the mouth through chewing and exposure to the digestive enzymes present in saliva. For the best health results it is important to chew your food mindfully and with awareness and gratitude.

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