As you browse through the shelves of your local supermarket, you are likely to spot a packet of quinoa sitting right there demanding your attention. Labelled a superfood by those in the health industry, this whole grain which is actually a seed has increasingly made its way on menus across eateries and has also now become a part of healthy diets. So what's the craze about? We get experts to break it down for us.
Origins of quinoa
Dr Amrapali Patil, Director and Founder CEO of Dr Amrapali's Trim N Tone, Weight Management and Wellness Clinic, says, "While it almost feels like quinoa is the new protein kid on the block, you would be surprised that that's not the case and that it has been around for 5,000 years. It was a vital part of the food of the Incas who used it to supplement their potato and corn dominant diets."
How is it prepared?
Dietician and sports nutritionist, Deepshikha Agarwal, adds, "Quinoa is called a whole grain but is actually a seed. You can use it while preparing salads, upma or while baking muffins or bread."
Always rinse quinoa before cooking it. This washes away the saponins which tend to otherwise give it a bitter taste.
Quinoa is cooked just like rice, or for that matter like couscous or even cornmeal. It is available in various forms such as seeds, granules and also a powder. Quinoa leaves are also consumed as a leafy vegetable. For the desi palate, for those who want a lighter version for their weight loss or weight management, quinoa can be cooked just like our desi khichdi with onions, tomatoes, carrots etc all put in there to enhance the flavour and to boost the nutritive value of quinoa.
Things to remember
For those who crave a more enriched taste and heavier taste, an alternative way is to cook it is like a pulao or a biryani. If tomatoes are to be added then add these just about 5-7 minutes towards the end. The proportion of liquid / water to quinoa is 1.5 - 1. Quinoa can also be cooked in the pressure cooker, much like the most of us Indians cook rice.
However don't put quinoa directly in the cooker. First boil the proportionate amount of water in the cooker and then add quinoa to it. The stuff cooks in one to two whistles. Quinoa can be sprouted or can be used unsprouted.
Quinoa is a fitness-freak's dream. And it can be indulged in by those seeking weight loss.
Quinoa is a rich source of proteins. A 4-ounce serving will provide a child's protein needs for one day. A cupful contains a whopping 8 gms of protein. It's ideal for vegetarians who are looking out for high protein foods. It provides all the nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein food for vegetarians.
It also helps to prevent high blood pressure and blood sugar.
It is rich in iron, selenium, manganese, magnesium as well as calcium. According to references, it is also a good food source for vitamins E, B, insoluble fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, and it is considered high in fat compared with other grains. To add to these benefits, it is also a rich source of minerals such as copper and zinc.
Quinoa is a rich source of lysine and methionine.
It is considered to be a very good source of fibre thus it can help relieve constipation.
It’s cholesterol free and saturated fat free therefore recommended for people looking to lose weight.
It can be a boon to people suffering from migraines as its rich in magnesium.
Quinoa can easily be used with rice, wheat (which are low in lysine) or soy (which is low in methionine and cystine ) to boost their protein value.
And what's more it is gluten-free and low in glycemic index.
It can be used in hypertensives, asthmatics, diabetics.
Those who have stress and tension related disorders, those with digestive ailments, and also as a good source of proteins, vitamins and minerals in patients with cancer ,etc.
It can also be used in protein energy malnutrition and those suffering from nutrition related disorders such as Kwashiorkor and anaemia.
Side effects of quinoa
Because of the high fat content, quinoa seeds should be stored in the refrigerator and used within one year of purchase.
Quinoa has antioxidant properties. Therefore exercise caution whilst taking it with other agents that have antioxidant properties.
Quinoa may lower triglyceride concentrations therefore caution is advised in patients taking triglyceride-lowering agents.