8 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa + 6 Tasty Recipes
Quinoa is a healthier alternative to rice. It contains more high quality proteins and fibers while it contains fewer carbohydrates and calories.
I looked for what makes quinoa so vigorous and what the proven health benefits are.
What you will learn in this article:
- What quinoa is
- The nutritional value of quinoa
- Or you can lose weight with quinoa
- The 8 proven health benefits
- 6 delicious recipes
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is used as a grain, but this is not actually. It is therefore called a pseudographer. It is the seed of the quinoa plant.
Because it is not grain, it does not contain any gluten. It is therefore very suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
You pronounce quinoa as a “no-a” and it occurs naturally in South America. It is grown on the high plateaus of Bolivia and Peru and is an important source of food for the local population.
The population around the highlands of Bolivia and Peru do not eat quinoa because it is a health type. They do this out of necessity because on the high plains (about 4000 meters above sea level) not much else grows.
The Incas cultivated quinoa on these highlands 6,000 years ago. The Incas also produced the superfood maca in the Andes, which they ate as we eat potatoes. It must have been a very vital people with these superfoods in the backyard.
A few years ago, quinoa became a popular alternative to rice. As a result, worldwide demand rose enormously, which drove the price strongly.
For comparison: for quinoa you pay in the supermarket prices from 0.83 euros per 100 grams, while for brown rice rice 0.14 euros per 100 grams.
So it is roughly 6 times more expensive than brown rice.
Since 2009 quinoa is also grown on a large scale in couple western European countries in order to meet the large domestic demand.
Quinoa is also growing well in the Dutch climate. Originally it grows on the cold, nutrient-poor and dry plateaus. So the crop can take a beating and night frost.
There are 120 types of quinoa and you have red, white and black quinoa. You often see the red in salads because they are the best form of preservation.
In terms of nutritional value, the color does not matter that much. The dark colors generally contain higher concentrations of antioxidants.
It is also a matter of taste or what you like in your dish which determine the choice for a certain type of quinoa.
Nutritional value quinoa
A number of quinoa properties make it a healthier alternative to rice. These are:
- It is rich in high-quality proteins
- It contains all 9 essential amino acids. This also in an almost ideal ratio!
- It is rich in dietary fiber
- It has a low glycemic index (35) so that the carbohydrates are slowly converted into glucose (more on that later)
Nutritional value of uncooked quinoa
Nutritional value quinoa
Per 100 grams
Energy 368 kcal
Fat 6 gram
Carbohydrates 64 gram
Of which sugars 0 gram
Of which dietary fiber 7 gram
Proteins 14 gram
You can also buy pre-cooked quinoa. This has a different nutritional value. This can also differ per brand.
Fatty acids from quinoa
Because quinoa are seeds they contain more fatty acids than grains. There are 6.1 grams of fatty acids per 100 grams of which 0.7 grams are saturated fats. This is especially palmitic acid.
Quinoa contains 1.6 grams of monounsaturated fatty acid, the majority of which is oleic acid (omega 9).
You do not have to use it because of these fatty acids. You normally get this too much as too little inside.
Especially of linoleic acid (omega 6) you get too much too much, because it is often added to margarines and in large quantities in vegetable oils such as sunflower oil.
In many people, this ratio is much higher, often 20: 1, because in so many foods omega 6 is or has been processed.
Proteins in quinoa
The special thing is that it contains all 9 essential amino acids in a good proportion.
This makes it particularly suitable as a vegetable protein source for vegetarians, vegans and strength athletes.
Amino acids Per 100 gram
Total protein 14,1 gram
Tryptophan 168 mg
Threonine 420 mg
Isoleucine 503 mg
Leucine 840 mg
Lysine 765 mg
Methionine 310 mg
Cysteine 203 mg
Phenylalanine 593 mg
Tyrosine 267 mg
Valine 594 mg
Arginine 1,09 gram
Histidine 408 mg
Alanine 589 mg
Asparaginic acid 1,13 gram
Glutamine 1,87 gram
Glycine 693 mg
Proline 772 mg
Serine 568 mg
Are you looking for high-quality vegetable protein sources? Then also look at Hemp Seed Protien Powder.
Minerals in quinoa
Quinoa also contains quite a few minerals and trace elements in nice quantities. It generally contains more minerals than brown rice.
Minerals Per 100 grams
Calcium 47 mg (5% ADH)
Iron 4,6 mg (25% ADH)
Phosphorus 456 mg (46% ADH)
Magnesium 198 mg (49% ADH)
Potassium 563 mg (16% ADH)
Zinc 3,1 mg (21% ADH)
Manganese 2,0 mg (102% ADH)
Copper 0,6 mg (30% ADH)
Selenium 8,5 mcg (12% mcg)
Sodium 5.0 mg
Vitamins in quinoa
Quinoa contains many vitamins, especially the B vitamins are well represented. In the table below you can see which ones are.
Vitamins Per 100 grams
Vitamin A 14 IU
Beta carotene 8 mcg
Vitamin E 2,4 mg
Vitamin B1 0,4 mg
Vitamin B2 0,3 mg
Vitamin B3 1,5 mg
Vitamin B5 0,8 mcg
Vitamin B6 0,5 mg
Vitamin B11 (folic acid) 184 mcg
Can you lose weight with quinoa?
Quinoa is definitely a food that fits within a diet that is aimed at losing weight. This is because it has a number of beneficial properties that are useful if you want to lose weight.
Quinoa is often used as a substitute for rice. If we compare quinoa with rice, the first thing to note is that quinoa contains fewer carbohydrates. 64 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams compared to 78 grams for rice.
The most important thing is that the carbohydrates from quinoa are slowly digested and converted into glucose.
To indicate how quickly carbohydrates are converted into glucose and affect blood sugar, the glycemic index (GI) is used. The higher this value the faster the blood glucose will rise.
The GI of quinoa is only 35 while the GI of white rice is 70.
Because quinoa contains less carbohydrates and also has a lower GI than rice, the glycemic charge (GL) is really a lot lower than that of rice. GL is the effect of a certain amount of food on blood glucose.
If you get peaks in your blood glucose, it will also drop sharply again, after which your blood sugar will become low. This low blood sugar level arouses the feeling of hunger so that you want to start sweating or snacking between meals (source, source).
At a peak in your blood glucose your body will have to produce a lot of insulin. This is necessary so that the cells can take the glucose out of the blood and thus be supplied with energy.
If there is a lot of insulin in the blood then this is a sign for your body that a lot of energy is available. At that moment the signal is issued to store and hold on to fat. Insulin is therefore often called the fat hormone.
If you want to be able to lose weight, it is therefore important that blood glucose remains as stable as possible. Quinoa is a carbohydrate source that does not give the dreaded peaks in blood sugar levels.
An additional advantage is that you will have long-lasting energy after eating quinoa because the glucose is gradually released to the blood.
Another good feature of quinoa for losing weight are the proteins.
Proteins digest more slowly than carbohydrates and thus provide a longer lasting feeling after the meal. This, too, helps to prevent eating between meals.
Proteins hardly have any influence on blood sugar levels and because digestion costs more energy, your resting metabolism literally goes up (source).
Another good feature of quinoa is that it is ‘real’ food. It is rich in amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Because you really feed your body with it, you will also have less need to eat more.
If you want to lose weight then quinoa is definitely a responsible source of carbohydrates.
Within a low-carbohydrate diet you will have to eat quinoa with moderation. After all, it remains carbohydrates. In any case, it is a much better choice than potato, rice or pasta.
Health benefits of quinoa
Everyone can say that quinoa is so healthy, but I always want to see proof of it. I dove scientific publications and sought it out for you. Below I share my find.
Dietary fibers are also important if you want to lose weight. This because they provide a full feeling that makes you eat less. Fibers also play a role in the production of certain hormones that play a role in losing weight (source).
Health benefit 2: contains all essential amino acids
There are 22 amino acids that the human body uses. Of these 22, 9 are essential and the other 13 are not essential.
The non-essential amino acids can be created by your body from other amino acids. The essential amino acids must be fed to your body through the diet.
Animal protein sources such as egg, meat, fish and dairy are a good source of essential amino acids.
Vegetable protein sources often lack some essential amino acids or have them in unfavorable proportions. If you eat vegetarian or vegan or just want to eat less meat, that is a problem. This can be detrimental to your health in the long term.
Quinoa not only contains more proteins than other cereals, but also has a much better amino acid profile.
Quinoa is rich in the amino acid lysine which is rare in plant foods. The amino acid profile resembles that of caesen protein from dairy products (source).
Health organizations recommend (partially) replacing animal protein sources for vegetable protein sources (source).
By making more use of vegetable protein sources such as quinoa, lentils, beans and hemp seed, you can reduce the consumption of meat and poultry.
Health benefit 3: rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which slows aging and makes us better protected against various diseases.
Quinoa is very rich in antioxidants and contains more antioxidants than the foods that we can replace with it such as cereals (source).
By sprouting the quinoa seed you can further increase the amount of antioxidants (source).
One of the antioxidants in quinoa is quercetin. This is one of the most powerful antioxidants of mother nature. This antioxidant has a cholesterol-lowering effect (source) and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer and osteoporosis (source, source, source).
As indicated in the introduction, quinoa is available in about 120 varieties.
As a rule of thumb, you can maintain that the quinoa with the most bitter taste contains the most antioxidants.
These are often the dark colored variants.
Health benefit 4: gluten free
In this study four years ago showed that 30% of Americans less or no gluten at more. This percentage had never been this high. It is a trend that people are increasingly aware of their health and nutrition.
Gluten-free food is also part of this for many. Gluten is a protein that occurs in many cereals such as wheat, rye and spelled.
Only a small proportion of the population (less than 1%) (source) must eat gluten-free because they have celiac disease.
In celiac disease, your immune system attacks the gluten proteins and you get serious complaints if you get a minimum amount of gluten. A few cookie crumbs can be enough to trigger the complaints. If you have celiac disease, then your intestines will damage if you do not really eat 100% gluten-free.
Many people have no celiac disease but are hypersensitive to gluten (source). This is called gluten sensitivity. If you have gluten sensitivity then you feel a lot better with a gluten-free diet.
With gluten you can suffer from abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, chronic fatigue, joint pain and muscle pain. By following a gluten-free diet these symptoms disappear.
Gluten-free white bread is still white bread which contains refined carbohydrates, for example. And gluten-free cake, for example, is also not healthy because of the sugars, refined carbohydrates and (trans) fats.
Quinoa is a perfect gluten-free replacement for many carbohydrate sources. It is pure and unprocessed food that is rich in nutrients.
Health benefit 5: rich in magnesium
Magnesium is in fact involved in a huge number of processes in the body. For example, you need it to build up body proteins, build up your bones, the nerve impulses to the muscles and the synthesis of enzymes.
Magnesium also plays a role in the breakdown of body fat. Magnesium is therefore also important if you want to lose weight.
With a portion of quinoa you already have almost half of your daily magnesium requirement!
Quinoa, however, contains phytic acid (an anti-nutrient) which binds magnesium and other minerals so that it can be absorbed less well by the body (source).
By first soaking it, or by letting it germinate, before you boil it, the phytic acid breaks down to 98% (source).
This makes the minerals better absorbed and you benefit optimally from all minerals in quinoa.
Health benefit 6: rich in copper
One serving of quinoa gives you about 30% of your daily requirement for copper. Copper is a trace element to which you often get too little with the Western diet. Buyer is important to keep the heart healthy (source).
Health benefit 7: rich in phosphorus
This is important because our Western diet (in which more and more processed food is eaten) means that there is less and less phosphorus in our food.
If you get too little phosphorus, then the quality of life is behind and it is bad for the health of your bones (source).
Health benefit 8: anti-inflammatory
Chronic infections are the basis of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes type and cancer (source).
The antioxidants in quinoa help to reduce (source).
Quinoa contains saponins. This is a substance that plants are thought to produce to protect themselves against insects, bacteria and fungi.
Saponins act as an antioxidant and have anti-inflammatory properties. The saponins in quinoa increase the production of anti-inflammatory substances in the body (source).
Quinoa contains a number of anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients interfere with the absorption of nutrients.
- Phytic acid
- Oxalic acid
We already talk about Phytic acid at Health benefit 5, which binds the minerals in quinoa. By allowing the quinoa to soak or germinate, the quantity of phytic acid decreases.
Phytic acid occurs in many types of grains, seeds and nuts (source). It is in the outer shell to prevent the crop germinating.
It reduces the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc.
You can also solve this by allowing the quinoa to soak or germinate and by rinsing the well with water.
Oxalic acid can bind with the calcium contained in quinoa. This can create kidney stones (source).
If you are not sensitive to kidney stones you do not have to be afraid of that, but if you get kidney stones easily, then you better not eat quinoa.
How do you prepare quinoa?
You can prepare quinoa seeds in different ways. You can let it soak or let it germinate first.
You need 50 to 70 grams of uncooked quinoa seeds per person. That may seem like little, but because it absorbs moisture it becomes heavier and it gets more volume during cooking. Just like rice.
Before you start cooking quinoa you will have to wash and soak them first. This is to break down the phytic acid.
You do this by putting the quinoa in a sieve and keeping it under the tap. Then you let it soak in a bowl of water for at least 10 minutes. Then you rinse it again under the tap using a sieve.
Then add the seeds to a pan with boiling water. Let it boil for 10 to 12 minutes or as long as indicated on the package. For the taste you can possibly add salt such as when cooking rice.
After this, remove it from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes with the lid on the pan. After this you stir it and let it rest for another 5 minutes. Then you pour it off and they are ready to eat.
Prepare quinoa by letting it germinate
First let the quinoa seeds soak for 2 to 4 hours. You can then germinate them for 12 to 48 hours. This is best done in a special germ or nut milk bag. But an empty pot or a deep plate is also sufficient.
The intention is that you wash the seeds a few times in between.
Now that you know how to prepare quinoa, it’s time for some delicious recipes.
Which quinoa I recommend and where do I order it?
The quinoa that I use is the one from RealFoodSource. This quinoa comes from controlled organic cultivation.
Quinoa has a slightly nutty taste. The taste can vary from something sweet to something bitter. The black species are usually somewhat bitter and also contain more antioxidants.
You can eat quinoa hot or cold. The cold food is done by letting it cool down after you’ve cooked. For example, you can do it through the salad to provide your salad with some protein and carbohydrates.
I love quinoa because of the proteins and the possibilities in the kitchen. Yet it is not my favorite superfood.
Some superfoods are hyped too much by marketing people.
Recipe 1: quinoa pancakes
These pancakes are ideal as a power lunch.
Protein, carbohydrates, fats and dietary fiber are all well represented while these pancakes contain only 227 kcal each
Ingredients (for 2 people):
- 350 ml of water
- 125 grams of quinoa
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 large proteins
- 100 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 100 grams of fresh spinach leaves
- 4 tablespoons salsa (optional)
- Bring water to a boil in a pan. Add the quinoa, the garlic and the salt. Cook the quinoa as described above or according to the instructions on the package.
- Drain the quinoa and put it on the stove for another 2 minutes while stirring it to let it dry.
- Put the quinoa in a large bowl and let it cool down.
- Heat the over for at 180 degrees Celsius
- Meanwhile stir together the proteins with the Parmesan cheese, basil, pepper and quinoa.
- Put 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan and heat the pan over a medium heat.
- Make 4 pancakes from the mixture and bake 2 in the pan. Bake each side for 3 minutes until it is golden brown.
- Then bake the last 2 pancakes with some olive oil.
- Serve with leaf spinach and some salsa.
Recipe 2: quinoa risotto
That quinoa is a good alternative to rice is proven with this risotto recipe. Risotto has never been so healthy and delicious!
It is important that you first let the quinoa soak as described under ‘How do you prepare quinoa?’.
This removes the bitterness of quinoa which is important to get the slightly sweet risotto taste of real risotto.
Ingredients (6 portions)
- 300 grams of quinoa
- 1.5 liters of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon of grass butter
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped roasted hazelnuts
- Wash the quinoa and let it soak as described above.
- Put the water with the quinoa, salt, thyme and bay leaf in a large pan to the boil. Boil it for 5 minutes, then remove the bay leaf and the thyme.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the onion. Using a sieve ladle, scoop out the large pan and scoop it into the baking pan. Bake this for 2 minutes while you stir it.
- Add a ladle of hot water from the large pan to the baking pan and cook until the liquid is absorbed by the quinoa. Repeat until it no longer absorbs moisture.
- Add the white wine vinegar and stir it.
- Spoon the quinoa and garnish each serving with 2 teaspoons of Greek yogurt (or crème fraîche) and 2 teaspoons of broken hazelnuts.
Recipe 3: Quinoa banana pudding
The quinoa banana pudding is ideal for exercise. This pudding is rich in carbohydrates and gives you the energy to hit hard.
Children are also fond of this banana pudding.
- 125 grams of quinoa
- 500 ml of coconut milk
- 350 ml of water
- 2 ripe bananas
- 4 tablespoons of honey
- 1 tablespoon of grass butter
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- A pinch of salt
- Wash the quinoa and let it soak. Cook according to the instructions on the package.
- Put the bananas with the coconut milk in the blender. Add 3 tablespoons of honey, the butter, half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and a pinch of salt. And mix until a smooth whole is created.
- Add the mixture from the blender to the pan with quinoa. Bring to the boil and let it become thick while stirring constantly.
- After a minute or 10 the pudding should have the right thickness.
- Pour the pudding into a bowl and allow it to cool for at least an hour in the fridge before serving. Garnish the pudding with some honey and drizzle it with some cinnamon powder.
Recipe 4: quinoa salad with sweet potato
This salad is rich in slow carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients for the salad:
- 500 ml of water
- 200 grams of quinoa
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 100 grams of sliced broccoli
- 1 yellow pepper, cut into cubes
- 1 red pepper, cut into cubes
- Half a cucumber, peeled, pitted and cut into cubes
Ingredients for the dressing:
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- The juice of half a lemon
- The juice of half a lime
- Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 40 grams of finely chopped coriander
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Wash the quinoa and let it soak. Cook it according to the instructions on the package. And let it cool down.
- Cover the oven plate with parchment paper and spread the sweet potato cubes on top and drizzle the potato with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Let the sweet potato roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. And let it cool down.
- Put the broccoli, yellow pepper, red pepper and cucumber in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and sweet potato and mix everything together.
- Use a small bowl to make the dressing. Add the olive oil, honey, lemon and lime juice and salt and pepper to the dish. Stir well with a fork.
- Mix the dressing through the salad and garnish with the coriander leaves.
Recipe 5: quinoa burgers
The vegetarian burgers that you can buy in the supermarket usually contain soy, wheat and gluten. This in addition to additives such as dextrose, sugar, sunflower oil and yeast extract (E621); additions that do not immediately make you happy.
The best vegetarian burgers you make yourself because these vegetarian burgers are free of junk and super rich in high quality protein!
- 400 grams of cooked quinoa
- 4 eggs
- 1 large sweet onion
- 40 grams of Parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- Add the ingredients, except the coconut oil, in a bowl and mix everything well.
- Knead 6 to 9 hamburgers of the mixture.
- Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Bake the hamburgers for 8 to 10 minutes on each side until they are golden brown.
Recipe 6 – Quinoa salad with avocado and tuna
This lunch gives you everything to get through the afternoon well; healthy omega 3 fatty acids, high-quality proteins, slow carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- 100 grams of quinoa
- 1 avocado, peeled and cut into pieces
- 200 grams of cherry tomatoes
- A can of tuna (about 100 grams) on water or olive oil
- 50 grams of feta
- 50 grams of fresh leaf spinach
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
- A pinch of salt
- Boil the quinoa according to the instructions on the package and let it cool and a large bowl.
- For the dressing: put the olive oil in a bowl with the lemon juice, the white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Stir well with a fork. If necessary, add ground black pepper.
- Once the quinoa has cooled down, add these other ingredients with the dressing. Mix everything together and you are ready to serve your salad.
Enjoy your meal!
Did you know that research shows that 1 in 3 just gains from a diet instead of losing weight? (source)
Discover how you lose several kilos per week with tasty and easy to make slimming recipes!
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