Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd ) is, for botanical reasons, classified as a Pseudo – Cereal and is native of South America.

Quinoa belongs to the Amaranthaceae, a family of flowering plants extraordinarily resistant to stress and consequently well suited for different climates and ecological environments, from 4,500 m altitude in Bolivia, to the plains of Chile.

Currently its cultivation has spread from the Andean regions to most of the world, although many countries like the United States prefer most modern techniques to traditional cultivation methods  (still used today in South America), with much higher returns.

 Quinoa has a very ancient history, with the first crops dating back to the times of the pre-Columbian populations (Maya and Inca), then abandoned with the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores who replaced it with european cereals such as wheat and barley, who were at the times, more productive.

Quinoa is consumed both as a product as it is and also after  industrial processing such as flour and pasta.

Quinoa is gluten free and therefore can be consumed by people with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.

FAO is focusing a lot on the quinoa to increase the production of quality food for a growing world population, under conditions of climate changes. Since the quinoa is well suited to different environments and is nutritionally very valid, can be very useful in the fight against hunger and food insecurity.

Quinoa, compared to other cereals most commonly used, has exceptional nutritional properties.

First of all for it has a high protein content (15%) and an optimal aminoacid composition of its proteins. In fact, it contains high amounts of Lysine, which is the limiting aminoacid in cereals: this means that the proteins of the quinoa  can meet the requirements of amino acids for adults.
Also the fat content is higher than the average of cereals, between 4 and 8%, depending on the variety.

Carbohydrates content is 60-70% and consists almost entirely of starch. Quinoa is also a good source of insoluble fiber, which plays an important role in the regulation of intestinal function. The glycemic index is low and this makes it an interesting product for diabetics.

In addition to this, quinoa is an excellent example of “functional food”: it is very rich in many essential nutrients like vitamins (vitamins B and E, in particular) and minerals in concentrations much higher than the cereals, especially for iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
It also contains a number of antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids and phytosterols that play an important role in reducing the risk of many diseases, because they counteract the damaging effects of free radicals. Quinoa also contains plant hormones.

It would definetely be a good idea to alternate the classic cereals such as wheat and rice  with quinoa in your diet for a change!

[cml_media_alt id='1531']Cinzia Scarcelli - 10[/cml_media_alt]

Please contact me at: Cinzia.Scarcelli@yahoo.com
mob +39 347 0714588
Skype: cinzia.scarcelli1

This post is also available in: Italian