In the past few years, quinoa has increased in popularity as a protein-filled gluten-free ancient grain. But unlike grains such as wheat and barley, quinoa plants grow edible seeds, which boast an impressive nutritional profile. They contain protein and fiber, along with magnesium, phosphorus, folate, iron, zinc, potassium and selenium, among other nutrients.
1. Aids in Weight Loss
Quinoa benefits include the ability to aid in weight loss. It contains both protein and fiber, which increase feelings of satiety after a meal. Eating quinoa on a regular basis is associated with weight loss and improvements in cholesterol levels. A 2014 study found that quinoa consumption led to higher energy expenditure, better glucose processing and less dietary fat absorption. (1)
2. Is Gluten-Free
Quinoa benefits include the ability to provide the body with gluten-free nutrients. A 2009 study found that patients with celic disease often followed a gluten-free diet that relief heavily on rice as their primary grain source, which was not nutritionally adequate. By changing their primary grain source to quinoa, the patients were able to meet their nutritional needs of protein, iron, calcium and fiber. (2)
3. May Help Fight Cancer
Studies suggest that quinoa benefits may include the ability to help fight cancer. Quinoa is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants that may help treat and prevent cancer, including controversial saponin. On occasion, saponin may negatively impact the lining of the intestines and contribute to leaky gut syndrome. However, saponin has also shown promising results for its ability to cause cell death in cancer cells. (3)
4. Supports Heart Health
Quinoa benefits include a healthy heart. It contains about four grams of fat per cup, made up of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. Quinoa also contains potassium, which naturally lowers blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of stroke.
5. Provides the Body with Antioxidants
Thanks to the powerful antioxidants it contains, quinoa benefits include protection against cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. The antioxidants in quinoa help fight inflammation to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
6. Improves Gut Health
Quinoa benefits include the ability to improve gut health. A 2016 study looked at quinoa and amaranth for their function as prebiotics, which fuels the beneficial bacteria living in the gut. Prebiotics are linked to lower inflammation levels, a reduced risk of disease and a healthier immune system. Quinoa also contains butyrate, which can help reduce the risk of IBS, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. (4)
7. Supports Bone Health
Quinoa benefits include the ability to support bone health. It contains a healthy dose of manganese, magnesium and phosphorus, all of which play a role in maintaining healthy bones. The nutrients in quinoa can help prevent osteoporosis.
8. Reduces the Risk of Diabetes
Quinoa benefits include a reduced risk of diabetes. The manganese it contains helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels while fighting insulin resistance. Quinoa can also help fight a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Just one cup of quinoa contains about one-third of your daily magnesium needs.