Rice lovers listen up – this healthy alternative provides double the amount of protein

quinoa benefits
Versatile + easy to cook – the benefits of quinoaBHOFACK2

Quinoa – pronounced ‘keen-wah’ (everyone mispronounces it, don’t worry) – is one of those health foods that’s just everywhere. It’s become a staple, not just in salads sold in M&S, but of health-minded eaters up and down the country. Why? Well, because it’s packed full of nutrients.

Wait, what is quinoa again?

Quinoa, which originated from the Andean region of South America, is a nutritious grain-like seed. It’s rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and can be incorporated into loads of meals – from salads to swapping it out for rice to add a bit of variety to your food.

‘Overall, quinoa is a really nice healthy balanced grain to include in your diet,’ says registered dietician and director of City Dietitians Sophie Medlin.

So, if you're wondering whether it's worth adding quinoa to your diet, we've rounded up some of the health benefits of the grain…

What are the benefits of eating quinoa?

1. It's high in protein

Looking to up your protein content so you can make gains at the gym? Quinoa is a fantastic choice for a plant-based food product that is high in protein.

You might be used to relying on lean meats, fish or eggs for your protein intake. But swapping out your usual carbohydrate of choice for quinoa is an easy way to boost your protein intake, with Medlin explaining that ‘quinoa is a higher protein-carbohydrate than rice.’

2. It contains all of the essential amino acids

Amino acids are essential to the ways in which our bodies function, supporting vital functions such as building proteins, hormones and neurotransmitters.

You'll generally find amino acids in foods such as meat and fish, which means it can be difficult for people who follow a plant-based diet to find foods that contain amino acids. However, quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids.

‘This is really useful for vegans who can be deficient in certain amino acids,’ Medlin says, adding: ‘most plant-based sources of protein only contain some types of amino acids.’

3. It's a great source of fibre

Quinoa is high in fibre, meaning it will support your digestion. Medlin explains that it contains both soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which are essential to the body's digestive function.

‘Soluble fibre helps to keep the stool soft and insoluble fibre helps the stool in the colon to contract and push through,’ Medlin explains. So if you suffer from constipation, think about adding quinoa to some of your meals.

4. It's rich in polyphenols

You might not have heard of polyphenols, but according to Medlin they're types of chemical compounds that naturally occur in quinoa and have plenty of health benefits.

Specifically, they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and studies have shown that they could provide protection against type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, obesity and certain cancers.

5. It can improve gut health

Gut health is something on everyone's mind right now, and for good reason – improving your gut health can not only improve your digestion, but it can potentially have a positive impact on everything from your mental health to sleep.

Because it contains high amounts of fibre, quinoa is a great addition to your diet if you're looking to improve your gut health. ‘Fibre feeds our microbiome which is good for overall health so it's a good food to consume from that perspective,’ Medlin says.

6. It's gluten-free

For coeliacs or people with sensitivities to gluten, quinoa is a very good alternative to carbohydrates like rice, because it's naturally gluten-free.

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