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The Nutritional Profile of Quinoa

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Although it is commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed.  It has been grown in the upper regions of the Andes Mountains for over 5,000 years.    Quinoa has grown in popularity thanks to both its impressive nutritional profile and the fact that it tastes so good!  It has twice as much protein as most grain type foods and also contains all of the amino acids that are necessary for human health.  Most plants are short on at least one of the necessary amino acids but not quinoa!  Most people are surprised to find that in addition to the protein quality of quinoa being equal to that of whole dried milk; it is also just as rich in calcium as milk.  To make things even better, the carbohydrate content is the “good” kinds of carbohydrates that are low-glycemic and slow burning.

Making blanket statements as to the exact nutritional content of quinoa is not possible because there are some 1800 varieties of quinoa and all of them vary slightly.  Things that can impact the nutritional content can include the variety of quinoa, conditions of the soil, method used to remove saponin and where the quinoa is grown.  Generally speaking, quinoa grown in South America is more nutritious that quinoa grown in North America.  Although there are variations, here are some general quinoa nutrition facts!

A serving of quinoa consists of one cup of cooked quinoa.  It contains 220 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.  The fat found in quinoa is considered to be “good” fat, because it is free of both saturated fat and trans fats.  Additionally, quinoa is cholesterol free!  A serving has 40 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.  In addition to being a great source of calcium, quinoa is loaded with iron, manganese, magnesium and riboflavin.

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