With the right nutrition, we support our body's own functions, are more efficient and less susceptible to diseases. Thanks to its extraordinary nutritional values, quinoa is considered a prime example of vitalizing foods. Complex carbohydrates, high-quality protein with all nine essential amino acids and a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, trace elements plus secondary plant substances have rightly earned the Inca grain the reputation of a superfood.
In this article, we have documented with numerous studies what the nutritional values of quinoa are all about, why athletes and allergy sufferers are well advised to take an extra portion of quinoa and why you should once again use the small grains instead of rice.
the essentials in brief
- Quinoa is a South American pseudocereal and comes mainly in the colors white, black and red. The nutritional values of the individual varieties are very similar in terms of content and ingredients.
- Thanks to its extensive nutrient balance, quinoa contains many important vitamins, minerals and trace elements. There are also valuable secondary plant substances and high-quality proteins.
- The superfood is gluten-free and low in histamine. It also has many health-promoting properties, such as preventing migraines and lowering cholesterol levels.
Background: What you should know about quinoa and its nutritional values
The following questions clarify which ingredients and nutritional values classify quinoa as a superfood and also provide important background information on the subject.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa has been cultivated by the Andean peoples of South America for over 7,000 years. Thanks to its high resilience and adaptability, the Inka grain defies a wide variety of environmental conditions. Its cultivation area ranges from the plateaus of Bolivia, with a maximum altitude of 4,500 m, to the lowlands of Chile. Depending on where it comes from, quinoa comes in red, black, and white (1).
In contrast to wheat, oats and rye, quinoa is not a grain and is therefore distinguished from sweet grasses. Instead, it ranks alongside chard, spinach and beetroot as a goosefoot plant and is also counted in the foxtail plant family. Since quinoa is treated in a similar way to barley, rice or spelt, despite its exceptional nutritional value, quinoa is a pseudocereal.
How healthy are the nutritional values in quinoa?
When looking at the current study situation, one thing quickly becomes clear, its nutritional values have rightly earned quinoa the reputation of a superfood. Numerous sources document the remarkable ingredients of the small grains. Many important macronutrients, vitamins & minerals grace the nutrient balance of quinoa. The color and type of the pseudocereal have no significant influence on the nutrient profile (2,3).Benefits/Strong>
- qualitative protein
- complex carbohydrates
- foxtail plant of macronutrients
- secondary plant substances Disadvantages
- Does quinoin contain a toxic protein
- Proteins: With over 14 g, quinoa is an excellent source of vegetable protein and is not only suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. The proteins it contains are of particularly high quality, which is mainly due to the balanced ratio of all nine essential amino acids (5).
- Fats: The fat content of the small grains is manageably low and can therefore be embedded in a low-fat diet. With a proportion of over 50% of polyunsaturated fatty acids (3.3 g), they can make a prophylactic contribution with regard to cardiovascular diseases (9).
- Carbohydrates: With almost two-thirds of carbohydrates, quinoa is below many other types of grain, but it cannot be described as a low-carb food. The glycemic index is low , which means that complex carbohydrates only have a weak effect on blood sugar levels. Therefore, it can be used for weight problems and even to prevent diabetes (10,11).
- Dietary fibre: Due to its high dietary fiber density , the pseudocereal differs from other types of cereal and can be compared to fruit or vegetables. It also ensures a lasting feeling of satiety and supports the metabolism (12).
- Supports and accelerates regeneration processes
- Helps build muscle
- Promotes performance
- Requires preparation
In terms of nutrients, the foxtail plant is strong. It contains more iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium than some grains, such as wheat. Furthermore, quinoa has a balanced amino acid ratio and contains all nine essential amino acids, which is exceptional for a plant-based food (4,5).
The super grain also scores with secondary plant substances such as polyphenols , phytosterols and flavonoids, which have various health-promoting properties. Due to their bactericidal effect, polyphenols can act against harmful bacteria and thus reduce tooth decay. While phytosterols can lower cholesterol levels, flavonoids affect blood clotting and may even have a positive effect on cancer and its development (6,7).
Quinoa's nutritional values cover a wide range of vital nutrients and phytochemicals (Image source: Silviarita/Pixabay).
Despite all the health benefits of the superfood, some caution is advised when consuming it. Quinoa contains the protein quinoin, which can damage connective tissue cells, depending on the dose. But don't panic, it's found in very small amounts in quinoa seeds and won't withstand temperatures above 70 degrees Celsius (8).
What are the nutritional values and calorie content of quinoa?
The table below provides an overview of the macronutrients contained in quinoa:
|Quinoa uncooked (100g)||Cooked quinoa (100g)|
|calories||368 calories||120 calories|
With 360 kcal, quinoa is about the same as rice and pasta. In the composition of the macronutrients, however, the foxtail plant shows considerable differences:
What vitamins and minerals are in the nutritional facts of quinoa?
In addition to the macronutrients mentioned above, the power granules also offer a range of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The most important micronutrients for 100 g uncooked quinoa are listed here:
|iron||4.57 mg||• Part of the red blood pigment hemoglobin • transports oxygen through the bloodstream and stores it in the muscles|
|magnesium||197 mg||• Located in the power plants of our cells, the • supports the formation of bones and teeth • is significantly involved in the communication between nerve and muscle cells|
|potassium||563 mg||• Acts as a cation (positively charged ion) primarily on signal transmission between the cells • is actively involved in the water balance and thus regulates the pH value in the body|
|calcium||47 mg||• affects muscle activity by transmitting nerve impulses • releases the release of hormones • regulates the activity of enzymes • influences blood coagulation • is antiallergic and anti-inflammatory|
Just 100 grams of quinoa cover over 50% of the total daily requirement of magnesium and phosphorus (467 mg) for an adult. The situation is similar for the trace elements copper (0.59 mg) and manganese (2.033 mg) . The latter even exceeds the minimum recommended daily dose of 2 mg (13).
In addition to the nutritional values already listed, the colorful grains contain a large number of vitamins. Vitamins A, E, K and a range of B vitamins thiamine , B2, B3, B6 and folic acid are all included. Each of these micronutrients is involved in important processes in our body. In their entirety, they ensure a functional and efficient system (14).
Quinoa provides valuable nutrients for a fit and vital body (Image source: StockSnap / Pixabay).
Vitamin B6 (0.487 mg), for example, is the most versatile coenzyme in the human body and supports more than 100 biochemical reactions. So it's not surprising that a deficiency in B6 can lead to cognitive dysfunction, cardiovascular disease and even cancer (15).
Quinoa contains many nutrients.
In addition to the vitamins, minerals and trace elements described, quinoa contains a large number of other micronutrients such as zinc (3.1 g) or selenium (8.5 µg) . The interaction of all these elements leads to the excellent nutritional values of quinoa and ultimately ensures a healthy and vital body.
What nutritional values do allergy sufferers benefit from when eating quinoa?
As an allergy sufferer, it is often not easy to integrate well-tolerated and varied foods into your diet. Not only does quinoa have exceptional nutritional values, the superfood also offers other advantages that allergy sufferers in particular benefit from.
Quinoa is gluten free
As already mentioned, quinoa is not one of the conventional types of grain, but one of the pseudo-grains. As such, quinoa does not contain gluten (sticky protein) and is therefore easily tolerated by people with gluten intolerance (16).
Tip: To increase the variety on the menu, quinoa can be processed into flour. In this way, different dishes, such as quinoa pasta, can be created. This is not only delicious, but also healthy. Protein quality and antioxidant activity of good-free flour are increased (16).
Quinoa is low in histamine
If you suffer from histamine intolerance, you can now add another food to your grocery list. Quinoa is low in histamine and therefore ideal for a corresponding diet.
With its own nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and copper and vitamin B6, the power grain provides the necessary nutritional values to support the body's enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) in its function. In fact, DOA is the key degradation enzyme of histamine (17).
What should athletes remember about the nutritional values in quinoa?Advantages
Thanks to the exceptional distribution of macronutrients, the miracle plant consists of over 14% proteins. Proteins are present in every cell in our body, are required for muscle building and are made up of amino acids. The small granules combine all nine essential amino acids and therefore provide all the necessary building blocks for accelerated regeneration (4).
Above all, the high lysine content of 0.766 grams benefits muscle building. The essential amino acid increases protein biosynthesis and thus supports muscle hypertrophy (18).
muscle weakness? With the right nutritional values, you can also conquer the unruly glass (Image source: RyanMcGuire / Pixabay).
Also found in abundance in the nutritional values of quinoa is the mineral magnesium. This has several effects on muscle functions and is of particular importance for athletes. Oxygen uptake, energy production and electrolyte balance require magnesium to function. You should definitely avoid a deficiency, otherwise your athletic performance will suffer (19).
Quinoa vs. Rice - Which Has Better Nutritional Values?
Rice is not only very popular in Asia, the Germans also like to use the small, white grain (20). But how does the proven grain fare in comparison to the South American superfood? We take a closer look at the most important nutritional values.
|Quinoa uncooked (100g)||Long grain rice uncooked (100g)|
|calories||368 calories||365 calories|
When looking at the macronutrient distribution, the first differences in protein, fat and fiber distribution become apparent. White long-grain rice has only half as much protein as quinoa, and the round grains are also ahead in terms of dietary fiber, actually five times as much. However, the fat content of the elongated grain is extremely low, so the superfood is at a disadvantage here.
With regard to minerals, vitamins and trace elements, the gap between the two foods is widening. Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese, all of these substances are much more abundant in quinoa than in rice. However, the grain with its high selenium content (15.1 µg) is superior to quinoa (8.5 µg).
Riboflavin can relieve migraine symptoms.
The B2 vitamin riboflavin deserves special mention. The B vitamin has a positive effect on headaches such as migraines and should above all be used preventively. With a dose six times higher in the Inca grain (0.318 g) than in the elongated grain of rice (0.049 g), the positive effect can be attributed to quinoa in particular (21).
In terms of macronutrients, the superfood is superior to rice thanks to its complex carbohydrates and balanced aminogram. The race for the micronutrients also goes to the small grains. All in all, quinoa, with its impressive nutritional values, is clearly more versatile than the Asian grain and emerges as the winner of this duel.
How is quinoa prepared without losing nutritional value?
The most common way to prepare quinoa, like rice or other grains, is to boil it in water. But be careful : Vitamins K & B are water-soluble and 40% are lost during cooking. Polyphenols are even more affected. The phytochemicals are only 12% after using boiling water (22).
In order to absorb the nutritional values of the superfood in the best possible way, you should use a gentler preparation method. We recommend steam cooking:
- Washing: To protect against natural predators, the small grains contain other secondary plant substances, saponins. If you want to avoid a bitter taste, you should first wash the quinoa thoroughly. The best way to do this is with a fine sieve.
- Steam cooking: Fill a saucepan about 2 cm with water and bring it to a boil. Then, place the steamer basket, or suitable bowl, in place with the washed grains and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Try it: After about 20 minutes, the steam should have swollen the quinoa optimally. Test its consistency by tasting the granules and adjusting the steam time as desired.
- Serving: Stir the pseudocereal to fluff it up nicely. The result: fluffy, nutrient-rich quinoa. Bon appetit!
Of course, you can also cook your quinoa of your choice. Bring twice the amount of water to a boil and let it cook on a low flame for about 15 minutes. Warning: quinoa will swell. So drain after cooking, otherwise it loses its bite.
Tip: Allow red quinoa to cook about 5 minutes longer than white or black quinoa.
Can I eat quinoa raw?
In short: Yes, you can also enjoy quinoa raw and there is no risk of losing any nutrients. Simply sprinkle the grains as a topping on your bread, salad or muesli. However, make sure to rinse off the plant-based food thoroughly beforehand, as with steam cooking.
Germinated seeds are extremely bioavailable.
Alternatively, you can soak the round beads for several hours and allow them to germinate. After about 24 hours they are ready to eat. Best of all : You increase the bioavailability and get the most out of the nutritional values.
Quinoa has rich nutritional values and covers a comprehensive range of vitamins, minerals and trace elements for daily needs. In addition, there is an unusually high protein content for pseudocereals. The plant-based food also has an extensive amino acid balance, contains all nine essential amino acids and provides the body with high-quality protein.
It is not only ideal for a healthy, balanced diet, but also makes the heart of every ambitious athlete beat faster. Allergy sufferers can enjoy the gluten-free and low-histamine properties of the Inca grain.
In a direct comparison with white long-grain rice, quinoa prevails thanks to its extraordinary nutritional values and thus rightly deserves the title of superfood. So that you don't miss out on any nutritional values on the way from opening the pack to enjoying the feast, you should pay attention to the appropriate preparation. Steam cooking is advisable for the maximum vital substance boost, or you can save yourself the time and try uncooked quinoa.
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