Quinoa comes from Peru, Bolivia and Chile. It grows in the Andes Mountains, and for millennia it has been a food staple for the native people there. According to a field crops article by the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota, quinoa means “mother grain” in the Incan language.
Recently, the surge in quinoa demand has pushed production beyond South America to more than 70 countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Today, large-scale quinoa crops grow in China, North America, France and India. Quinoa production is picking up in Africa and the Middle East, according to a 2016 assessment in Frontiers in Plant Science.
According to Spiridakis, there are 1,800 types of quinoa. Quinoa seeds can be black, red, white, purple, pink, yellow, gray, orange, green or yellow. In the United States, white (traditional) and red (Incan) quinoa are commonly available. While the white variety is more flavorful, the red contains more nutrients.
“Quinoa is a good source of protein, fiber, iron, copper, thiamin and vitamin B6,” said Kelly Toups, a registered dietician with the Whole Grains Council. It’s also “an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and folate.” Toups emphasized that a “‘good source’ means that one serving provides at least 10 percent of the daily value of that nutrient, while ‘excellent source’ means that one serving provides at least 20 percent of the daily value of that nutrient.”
A 2009 article in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture stated that quinoa’s “unusual composition and exceptional balance” of protein, oil and fat, as well as its minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins, make it a highly nutritious food. The article also noted that phytohormones are found in quinoa, unlike many other plant foods. Phytohormones help regulate plant growth. Some types, called phytoestrogens, are being studied as a treatment for menopause symptoms because they sometimes behave like estrogens in the body.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Nutraceuticals and Food Sciencede termined that compared to other cereals, which people around the world rely upon for macronutrients, quinoa has more protein and a greater balance of essential amino acids. Nutritionally, it resembles milk protein more than cereals like wheat, corn and barley. It also surpasses cereals in amounts of dietary fiber, lipids, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E.
Here are the nutrition facts for quinoa, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act:
|Amt per serving||%DV||Amt per serving||%DV|
|Total Fat 2g||3%||Total Carbohydrate 21g|
|Cholesterol 0mg||0%||Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Sodium 7mg||0%||Sugars 0.9g||7%|
|Potassium 172mg||5%||Protein 4g|
|Vitamin A||0%||Vitamin C||0%|
Light, quick to make there are salads, bowls or soups for you to choose from.
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