What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a plant that thrives at extremely high altitudes in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. It was already cultivated thousands of years ago by the legendary Incas. The name ‘Quinoa’ comes from the Quechua language, the original language of the Incas. The Incas boiled Quinoa like rice and considered Quinoa as ‘sacred food’. Today, demand for Quinoa and Quinoa products is rapidly increasing, due to its high nutritional values.
A good source of high-quality protein
A good source of dietary fibre
High in polyunsaturated fats
A good source of vitamins and minerals
Quinoa is one of the world’s most popular health foods. Quinoa is high in protein and Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that contains all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and antioxidants. Besides Quinoa has a low glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar control. Last but not least, Quinoa is very easy to incorporate into your diet. Quinoa is really tasty and it goes very well with many foods. What else to say? Enjoy! ☺
High in protein
Quinoa is often called a ‘pseudograin’. However Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, rice, pasta or potatoes. Proteins consist of units called amino acids, often referred to as the building blocks of protein.
To meet ideal nutritional needs, people need to consume foods with all of the essential amino acids. Animal products are complete proteins, because they provide all essential amino acids. Plant products often offer some but not all amino acids. Quinoa, however, is a complete protein, making it a rare and special entity in the plant kingdom.
High in fibre, vitamins and minerals
Quinoa contains more dietary fibers than rice, pasta or potatoes. Dietary fibers promote a good digestion and a well-functioning gut. Dietary fibers can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss. Furthermore, Quinoa is richer in vitamins such as vitamin E and B, and minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, when compared with other grains.
Low glycemic index
The Glycemic Index (GI) measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a high Glycemic Index can stimulate hunger and can contribute to obesity. Quinoa has a Glycemic Index of 35, which is considered low.
Quinoa is naturally gluten free. So celiacs can tolerate Quinoa well. However it is advised by lots of nutritionists to incorporate Quinoa in your daily diet as an alternative to the excess of wheat products.
Existing historical evidence indicates that the first Quinoa was cultivated between 3,000 and 5,000 years BCE in the area surrounding Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia by the legendary Incas. There are archeological discoveries of Quinoa in tombs of Tarapacá, Calama and Arica in Chile, and in different regions of Peru. The Incas considered Quinoa as a sacred food, a gift from God. They called it ‘La Chisiya Mama’, the mother of all grains. At the time of Spanish arrival, Quinoa was well developed technologically and it was widely distributed within and beyond Inca territory.
In 1532 things went downhill for the Incas. Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish explorer, reached the Andes with a small army and within a year he destroyed all the Quinoa fields. The daily lives of the Incas had always revolved around honoring Quinoa. However, what the Spanish did not know is that Quinoa was still grown in secret at extremely high altitudes that could only be reached by the natives. Still, Quinoa was virtually forgotten about for many centuries, until it was re-discovered in the 1970's…
Today the popularity and acknowledgement of Quinoa as one of the world’s most popular health foods is growing rapidly. Many top chefs have already discovered Quinoa and are using it to create the most delicious dishes.