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Quinoa a complete protein

Few plant foods are considered complete proteins (meaning, having all of the essential amino acids) but quinoa qualifies. This comes as a surprise to many, because there is a common belief that only animal protein is complete.  In the plant world, we usually have to combine plants (for instance, beans with rice) in order to get all of the essential amino acids.  Quinoa has them all! And it's gluten free.  Add a few vegetables to round out the phytonutrient picture and you have a life-sustaining diet.

Besides being a protein powerhouse, quinoa has several other major health benefits:

Cardiovascular:  Quinoa provides significant cardio benefits. In a University of Milan study, quinoa produced lower free fatty acid levels and triglyceride concentrations than did other gluten free foods studied. Certain phytochemicals in quinoa support cholesterol reduction. Quinoa is also high in magnesium which helps reduce blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.  It also delivers a significant fiber punch which also can help lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol.  This tiny seed (not a grain!) also has valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats.

Blood sugar:  Quinoa is at the low end of the glycemic index which makes it a great grain substitute for those with blood sugar issues.  The high fiber content of this seed also contributes to lower glucose levels and may promote weight loss, which, in turn, further reduces the risk of diabetes.

Reducing cancer risk:  High levels of certain bioactive compounds in quinoa have the potential to lower the risk of cancer. These substances have the capacity to suppress new blood vessel growth and inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.  Quinoa also contains a range of potent compounds known as saponins.  These chemicals provide strong antitumor and tumor antiangiogenic effects.  They are sometimes used as an adjunct to chemotherapy.

Inhibiting Inflammation:  We now know that inflammation is the step that precedes the development of all chronic illness.  Years of inflammation comes before the diagnosis of a disease. Quinoa provides substantial anti-inflammatory effects.  The saponins (mentioned in the paragraph above) also inhibit the release of inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6. Meaning quinoa may be used for prevention and treatment of inflammation.  

Cooking quinoa.  It's quick and easy.  Just follow directions on box and do NOT skip the rinsing step. This is important as the rinsing removes the bitter taste.   Add quinoa to your diet several times a week in order to reap all of these benefits!

This information was gleaned from an article written by Michael Downey for Life Extension Magazine, July, 2015, and with 35 references to studies performed on quinoa.  

Mary Anne Robinson, MS Bio-Nutrition
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