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In recent years, quinoa has become a trending health food. But why?

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The ancient food is rich in protein, offering nearly twice the amount of protein than oats, and a bit more fiber and iron to boot.

Protein is an essential part of the diet as it helps your body repair cells and make new ones. It’s also essential for growth and development during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy. Because quinoa has such a high protein content, it is often touted as being a great replacement for rice and other high-carbohydrate, low-protein grains, hence why health communities have gone nuts over it.

Quinoa is also a great source of potassium, which you need for muscle and protein building, keeping a regular heartbeat, and a variety of other bodily functions. Furthermore, quinoa is chock-full of antioxidants that help prevent cell damage — necessary for healing, disease prevention, and slowing the aging process.

And if you have Celiac disease, quinoa is a great food to take advantage of, as it doesn’t contain gluten. It’s also known for its heart-healthy fats that boost “good cholesterol.” Any food that fills you up and packs a nutritional punch with a small amount is a food to love.

Does that all sound familiar?

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What You May Not Know

But here’s the thing. People get something entirely wrong about this food: it’s not a grain at all. In fact, quinoa is actually a seed that is harvested from a species of a plant called goosefoot. And it’s more closely related to spinach and beets than to cereals or grains. So while health enthusiasts are busy boasting the benefits of quinoa as a gluten-free grain, they should really be calling it a vegetable seed high in nutrition, and of course, all the other incredible benefits listed above as well.

But quinoa does bear a similar resemblance to a grain, right? It’s even better, though!

Eating rice and beans makes us believe we are fueling up on valuable protein, since together they are thought to form a protein bond with all 9 amino acids, but most grains don’t have the acids called isoleucine and lysine. In fact, they must be combined with a legume for you to get the full spectrum. Quinoa, on the other hand, contains all the essential amino acids.

Why Is Quinoa Often Referred To As A Grain?

Quinoa is also called chisaya mama, or mother of grains, and was sacred to south American people since it was best picked during hot summers and could withstand severe draughts unlike any other crop. Quinoa is harvested before cold winter, which is when we need fat and protein most.

Quinoa And Fat

 You may have also heard that quinoa, while high in protein, is low in fat, but it actually has more fat than any other grass type, mostly because it has a lot of oleic acid that protects the heart, thanks to its monounsaturated fat and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) or omega-3 acid. But unlike other fat types, these acids are incapable of going through oxidation while cooked because of the amount of antioxidants in quinoa.

Quinoa And Magnesium

Quinoa is also rich in magnesium, which works to relax blood vessels and can thereby alleviate migraines. Magnesium may also help reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Furthermore, the abundant mineral is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of health bones and teeth.

How You Can Cook It

  1. Buy a good quality organic quinoa.
  2. Wash quinoa thoroughly using a strainer to eliminate saponin, the seed’s bitter outer coating.
  3. Combine 2 cups of water with 1 cup of quinoa in a saucepan and let boil.
  4. Once boiled, keep covered and lower the heat. Simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes.
  5. Strain once cooked through, then bring back to a warm pot to sit for 15 minutes.

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