By Gilbert Nelson, C.P.T.

The ancient Incas referred to quinoa as “mother of all grains.”  Today, quinoa continues in popularity due to its nutrient density,  high iron content and reputation as a plant-based “complete” protein source.  The grain’s low glycemic index, dietary fiber, low sodium and low sugar content make quinoa a perfect food for energy metabolism. 

Diabetics benefit from adding quinoa to their nutritional intake as there is no severe spike in insulin after consumption.

Complete Protein and Fiber

Lysine and isoleucine are two essential amino acids abundant in quinoa, making it a uniquely powerful protein source.  Vegetarians may find it challenging to meet their daily protein requirements; therefore, a plant-based protein source is beneficial when included in a plant-based meal plan. Quinoa’s fiber content is mostly composed of insoluble fiber that gives the sensation of feeling full, which results in the consumption of fewer calories without feeling hungry.

Bulking agents from the consumption of insoluble fiber aid in eliminating waste from the gastrointestinal tract, which decreases the time in which digested food rests in the intestine. A decrease in food storage directly aids weight loss.    

Nutrient Density

Quinoa is a nutrient-dense complex carbohydrate rich in iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, folic acid and zinc.  Iron is an important mineral in production of oxygen in the blood.  Oxygen needs to be transported throughout the body, especially during endurance training, and iron plays a vital role in this process.  Women have a tendency to be more deficient in iron than men, especially those who are vegetarian.  Quinoa aids in eliminating iron deficiencies, especially when it is consumed with foods rich in vitamin C. 

Consume quinoa with foods rich in vitamin C to enhance the body’s ability to absorb iron.

Quinoa can be enjoyed on its own or as a complementary grain dish to any meal.  Organic quinoa is high in protein and fiber and low in sodium and sugar.  It is gluten free and rich in iron. This combination makes quinoa a superior food.  It will provide steady energy and satiety and aid in appetite control.

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