Health Benefits of the Quinoa Seed

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) - is a delicious addition to the diet.  It is not technically a cereal grain like wheat or oats, but has been cultivated and eaten as a cereal for thousands of years by South Americans. Quinoa is the tiny seed of the Chenopodium Quinoa, a leafy plant that is a distant relative of spinach and beets. 

Quinoa was called the "mother grain" by the Incas (chisiya mama). Now, as people in the rest of the world learn more about Quinoa, they're discovering that its ancient nickname was well deserved - Quinoa is indeed a nutritional powerhouse.

Quinoa's protein content, about 16 percent, is higher than that of any other grain. Wheat also has a high protein content, about 14 percent, but the protein in wheat and most other grains is lacking in the amino acid lysine, which Quinoa has in abundance. In fact, the amino acid composition in Quinoa is almost perfect. The World Health Organization has judged the protein in Quinoa to be as complete as that in milk. In addition, Quinoa contains more iron than most grains, and is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, folate, and many B vitamins.

Eating a serving of whole grains, such as Quinoa, at least 6 times each week is an especially good idea for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease. 

A 3-year prospective study of 229 postmenopausal women with cardiovascular disease, published in the July 2005 issue of the American Heart Journal, shows that those eating at least 6 servings of whole grains each week experienced:

*         Slowed progression of atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque that narrows the vessels through which blood flows. 

*         Less progression in stenosis, the narrowing of the diameter of arterial passageways.

COOKING QUINOAQuinoa cooks very quickly, and is cooked similar to rice.

Here is how to cook Quinoa: 

  • Add 1 cup of quinoa plus 2 cups water to a pot that holds approximately 1 1/2 quarts. 
  • Bring to a boil Reduce heat to simmer. 
  • Cover and cook 10-15 minutes.
  • Turn off heat for last minutes and allow grains to absorb moisture for a while
  • Stir, add your favorite seasonings, or cool to use with salad at a later time. 
I like to cook it a little less time than suggested on the box, or with a little less water, to make sure the Quinoa does not get a "mushy" consistency when cooked.  I would suggest doing what it says on your package the first time, and see how it comes out, then adjust accordingly in the future.  You can turn heat off early and allow it to finish absorbing water to save energy.  If it is too soft, use less water the next time.

The grain, when cooked, will look almost translucent, and you will see a ring along the edge of the grain called the "germ ring". This is normal.

How we eat our Quinoa:

Hot: I enjoy eating Quinoa seasoned as we would rice, with some butter; or at times we add Olive Oil, sea salt to taste, and a seasoning like Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb seasoning.

Cold: I also make a cold salad side dish with Quinoa by stirring in the following cut in small pieces - onion (any kind including green), garlic, celery, green pepper, tomato, sliced black olives - in a quantity that seems right for the amount of Quinoa I cook, then stir all together with some low fat Italian Dressing to taste, and keep in the refrigerator, serve cold.


If you would like to learn how to grow Quinoa, please visit this link.

Updated 11/6/18

Image Credit: Pixabay

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