What is quinoa
The Chenopodiaceae family includes the dicotyledonous (any plant belonging to the flowering family, that has a pair of leaves in the embryo of the seed) annual plant known as quinoa. Quinoa is believed to have its origins in the Andes area of South America, specifically in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. Quinoa has been grown for hundreds of years, and due to widespread recognition of its excellent nutritional worth, it has earned the nickname "golden grain."
The quinoa plant is often a herbaceous plant that ranges in colour from green to red or even purple. The seeds are round, have a range in diameter, and come in a variety of hues, including white, yellow, red, and black.
Due to its outstanding nutritional qualities and adaptability to thrive in different agrosystems, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) demonstrates the enormous potential for the production of healthier foods. This plant can grow in high-altitude areas and has become resistant to a variety of stressors, including cold, salt, and drought. Hence, quinoa has the potential to serve as a very nutritious food source that can be grown in arid places that are now unsuitable for other common crops.
The height, location, farming methods, and rainfall patterns all affect the quinoa variety. Quinoa comes in two primary commercial varieties: Blanca de juinan and Amarilla de Marangani. Its tiny, flat, oval-shaped seeds might be bright yellow, pink, or even black in hue. It can be cooked into soup or puffed to create morning cereals, and its consumption is comparable to that of rice. Moreover, it can be ground into flour to make fermented drinks and baked goods.
Health benefits of quinoa
- Quinoa has gained popularity as a great source of minerals and phytochemicals when consumed uncooked. It has also been shown to have some health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, a decrease in blood pressure, and protection against cardiovascular illnesses
- It is high in dietary fibre, and consuming more dietary fibre is linked to improved mineral absorption, decreased cholesterol and lipid absorption, improved gut microbiota composition, and higher satiation. Quinoa's dietary fibre has a lower lignin percentage than other fibres and is mostly made up of cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin. Quinoa may be better at binding heavy metals than other fibres
- Quinoa's essential amino acid profile can be compared to the FAO/WHO/UNU study on adult protein requirements to evaluate how well it resembles the recommended pattern
- Quinoa is a safe and excellent gluten-free alternative cereal since it did not cause a significant immune response in celiac disease toxicity testing and was well accepted by celiac disease patients
- Quinoa proteins also have exceptional antioxidant and hydroxyl radical scavenging properties. Quinoa protein hydrolysis yields bioactive peptides, which have remarkably beneficial health effects. They can lessen oxidative stress-related illnesses including cancer and help prevent and manage type 2 diabetic mellitus (T2DM)
- One of the most prevalent polyunsaturated fatty acids found in quinoa, linoleic acid, has several beneficial benefits on the immune system, cell membrane function, prostaglandin metabolism, and cardiovascular disorders. It also increases insulin sensitivity
- Tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are components of vitamin E, can be found in quinoa seeds. These substances can dissolve in oils and prevent the production of free radicals, which slows or stops lipid oxidation
- When it comes to decreasing and scavenging free radicals, quinoa has a greater phenol content than the majority of grains and legumes. Frequent intake of foods high in polyphenols may aid in the prevention of diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, and cancer
- Moreover, hydrophilic compounds include betalains and glycine betaine, both of which have specific health-improving qualities
- Saponins, which operate as anti-nutritional factors, have a wide range of biological effects, such as anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects
Due to its distinctive nutritional characteristics, quinoa is well-known and used worldwide. Quinoa grains can be prepared and consumed in a variety of ways. They can be used in place of rice in infant foods and breakfast porridge, or they can be fermented to create drinks like beer. Quinoa seeds are used to prepare a variety of baked sweets, stews, soups, and salads in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. As value-added goods, quinoa's stalks, young leaves, and roots have been utilised. Much research has been done to determine how quinoa affects the flavour and texture of foods including cake, bread, and biscuits. Current research has also looked into the viability of quinoa grain-based quick food products which could be highly beneficial in consumption by a larger audience.
Quinoa contains high-biological value proteins, carbs with a low glycemic index, a lot of dietary fibre, and unsaturated fatty acids. It is a good source of phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. Quinoa cultivars differ slightly in their nutritional composition, which can be linked to elements including genotype, environment, and growth circumstances.
Starch, the most important carbohydrate in all cereals, may satisfy the body's daily requirements and affect the quality of processed goods. More than 50% of the dry weight of the grain is made up of quinoa starch, whereas the content of amylose (one way of storing energy in plants) ranges from 3% to 27%. On the one hand, quinoa starch has a high amylopectin (the major component of starch; a polysaccharide) content, a low pasting temperature, and great freeze-thaw stability, giving it a large amount of promise for use in freezing and food anti-retrogradation. On the other hand, due to its small granule size and the high specific area, it appeared to have a faster digestion rate than typical cereals. Nonetheless, quinoa flour has low glycemic index qualities due to its high D-xylose and maltose concentrations and low glucose and fructose contents.
The insoluble portion of phytonutrients known as fibre has the power to aid in digestion and ward off constipation. Quinoa has a greater overall dietary fibre content (7–13.9%), compared to other common cereals.
Because of their well-balanced amino acid content, gluten-free status, and good in vitro digestibility, quinoa proteins are regarded as high quality. All of the necessary amino acids are present in quinoa proteins (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine). The content of lysine, one of the few amino acids found in common cereals, is found to be higher in quinoa than in wheat or maize, allowing the former to be used as a protein supplement in diets high in cereals. Albumins and globulins, with little to no prolamins, are the primary storage proteins in quinoa.
Palmitic and oleic acids are the primary monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids found in quinoa lipids. Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid are the two most prevalent necessary fatty acids found in quinoa. The majority of the lipids in quinoa are polyunsaturated fatty acids. As a result, quinoa has been acknowledged as a potential source of oil.
Micronutrients include vitamins (including vitamin E, the B group, and vitamin C) and minerals that are abundant in quinoa (e.g., potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous). Because quinoa contains calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous in accessible forms, their concentrations are thought to be adequate for a balanced diet.
Many bioactive biochemicals found in quinoa support human well-being maintenance. The phenolic chemicals (phenolic acid, flavonoids, tannins), betalains, glycine betaine, and triterpenoids are the most prevalent ones found in quinoa (saponins, phytosterols, phytoecdysteroids). They serve as antioxidants, preventing illnesses brought on by oxidative stress.
Side effects and other concerns
Quinoa's two main drawbacks are saponins and phytic acid. Saponins are present in the quinoa seed's pericarp. Plant glycosides called saponins have a bitter flavour and cause a lot of froth in aqueous solutions. Although saponins may give quinoa seeds a bitter flavour, they are not poisonous and have no impact on the nutritional value of the seeds. However, some saponins can bind to minerals like zinc and iron to form insoluble complexes that prevent the minerals from being absorbed in the stomach.
Quinoa is a member of the Chenopodiaceae family and frequently contains oxalate. A hazardous chemical with significant health risks is oxalate. A significant risk factor for the development of calcium oxalate stones is secondary hyperoxaluria, which is largely caused by a high dietary oxalate intake. Due to oxalate's capacity to form insoluble complexes with divalent cations in the digestive tract, a high dietary oxalate consumption affects mineral and trace element absorption in humans and may cause calcium oxalate stone formation.
The Chenopodiaceae family includes the dicotyledonous (any plant belonging to the flowering family, that has a pair of leaves in the embryo of the seed) annual plant known as quinoa. It is believed to have its origins in the Andes area of South America and has been grown for hundreds of years. It is often a herbaceous plant that ranges in colour from green to red or even purple. Its seeds are round, have a range in diameter, and come in a variety of hues. It has the potential to serve as a nutritious food source that can be grown in arid places.
It can be cooked into soup or puffed to create morning cereals and ground into flour to make fermented drinks and baked goods. Quinoa is a great source of minerals and phytochemicals and has been shown to have health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, a decrease in blood pressure, and protection against cardiovascular illnesses. It is high in dietary fibre, and its essential amino acid profile can be compared to the FAO/WHO/UNU study on adult protein requirements. It is a safe and excellent gluten-free alternative cereal and has exceptional antioxidant and hydroxyl radical scavenging properties. Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid, tocopherols and tocotrienols, and hydrophilic compounds such as betalains and glycine betaine have specific health-improving qualities.
Quinoa is well-known and used worldwide due to its distinctive nutritional characteristics. It contains high-biological value proteins, carbs with a low glycemic index, a lot of dietary fibre, and unsaturated fatty acids. Starch, the most important carbohydrate in all cereals, is made up of quinoa starch, which has a high amylopectin content, a low pasting temperature, and great freeze-thaw stability. Quinoa flour has low glycemic index qualities due to its high D-xylose and maltose concentrations and low glucose and fructose contents. Fibre has the power to aid in digestion and ward off constipation.
Quinoa proteins are of high quality due to their well-balanced amino acid content, gluten-free status, and good in vitro digestibility. Albumins and globulins are the primary storage proteins, palmitic and oleic acids are the primary monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid are the two most prevalent necessary fatty acids, and quinoa is a potential source of oil. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, and bioactive biochemicals that support human well-being maintenance.
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