The Gold of the Incas: QUINOA
Five precious magical property of the ancient South-American smart carb.
Ever been to Peru or, more in general to South America? Quinoa is everywhere and it’s not only a “chic” food for those who live in the richest areas of town. It is actually an everyday nutritious basis.
Quinoa is an ancient herbaceous plant, whose seeds are utilized as if they were cereal. They can in fact be used as a whole piece or they can be further grinded to be transformed into flour. It is a food with extraordinary properties that grows in South American and it is so precious that it is often referred to as the Gold of the Incas, because the ancient population strongly believed quinoa to be a boost to their warriors’ resistance and to their population’s health.
It is a so called “smart carb” or a “good carb”, one of those that cannot be missed in a healthy and balanced diet.
For several years quinoa was in fact forgotten or neglected, notwithstanding its ancient origin. It has been a recent return due to the “foodie revolution” that it has re-discovered with full merits its role on our table.
As mentioned, quinoa is mostly produced in Bolivia or Peru. The most common one is white, but you can also find a red and a black version. It’s a versatile food, easy to cook and an exceptional pseudo-cereal, which is perfect for a vegetarian or vegan diet as well. Let’ go into details:
1. Quinoa is a healthy alternative to animal proteins
Yes, this is surprising. Quinoa is one of the very few “grains” containing all of the nine essential amino acids. Most cereals, for example, are poor in lysine, whereas quinoa has plenty. Lysine helps the body produce collagen, a substance that is useful for your bones’ health, for your muscles’ strength and for your skin’s resistance whilst having an essential role in the production of energy. In comparison to other cereals, quinoa is exceptional: 100 grams of raw quinoa contain 14 grams of proteins – the same amount of wholegrain rice would contain 7.5 grams and the same amount of barley would contain 9 grams. Who would have thought!
2. Quinoa is a naturally gluten-free food
It is a pseudo-cereal and therefore it is gluten-free by definition. Also, for those of you who have a tendency to be allergic, generally it is very rare to develop an allergy to the quinoa plant. It is a seed, and thanks to its versatility it can be a valid alternative to pasta, whole-wheat flour to produce pizza, focaccia, tarts, cakes or creams.
Avoiding gluten can in fact bring plenty of beneficial effects to your health. Gluten contains a protein called gliadin, which our body is unable to process and destroy fully. Instead of seeing it as a protein, our body “interprets” gliadin as a bacteria and therefore starts some sort of immune defence reaction that we feel likely as stomach or intestinal inflammations. In the long run, gluten can potentially cause a series of diseases, let’s go for quinoa!
3. Quinoa helps you lose weight and keep you fit
Quinoa has a high content of fibers and proteins that make you feel filled up and therefore controls hunger. It also has a low glycemic index therefore maintaining constant the level of sugar in blood, whilst inhibiting the desire to snack outside of your main meals.
4. Quinoa fights inflammations and free radicals
Quinoa is well known to be a great source of natural anti-oxidants, such as quercetin and kaempferol, which operate a very important anti-inflammatory action. It also has a high content of manganese, a mineral that acts just like an anti-oxidant protecting your body from the damages caused by mitochondrions during the production of energy. Contrasting free radicals is essential because it helps prevent ageing and maintaining healthy tissues.
5. Quinoa reduces constipation and contributes to a regular intestinal activity
With respect to other grains, quinoa contains double the amount of fibers. Fibers help prevent constipation, accelerating the pace of your intestinal transit. It also facilitates the explusion of toxins from intestine therefore protecting the mucosa from cancer risk. Quinoa is therefore certainly a food that cannot be missed in a diet. It is perfect for your psycho-physical well-being (don’t know about you, but we’re generally very grumpy when constipated!)
Want to try quinoa this week? It is the right one, we're playing our cards with Quinoa alla Norma, a revisited version of a typical sicilian aubergine-based pasta dish. Check it out amongst our specials here