Originating from the Andes regions of South America, Quinoa is a relatively unknown pseudo-cereal plant similar to buckwheat and in some respects to spinach. Quinoa is mostly grown for its seeds which are usually prepared in a fashion similar to the way you would prepare rice. The leaves of the plant are also sometimes used for nutrition but are not as common in commerce as the seeds.
Quinoa has become extremely popular in the Western world in recent years, which have seen prices of Quinoa skyrocket as the wealthy Americans and Europeans continue to buy it despite the price, thanks to the nutritional value of the seeds. In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared the “International Year of Quinoa”. Quinoa gained vast popularity due to its nutritional breakdown. The presence of gluten is often debated in nutritional circles, leading us to seek the answer to the question, does Quinoa contain gluten? So what exactly makes Quinoa what it is? We tried to find out just for you. So, does quinoa have gluten?
Nutrition Values For Does Quinoa Contain Gluten
One hundred grams of Quinoa will equate to about 120 kcal or 503 kJ of energy. The same amount will contain about 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fat, and 4.5 grams of protein. Aside from these basic nutrients, 100 grams of the seed will also contain various vitamins and minerals, most notably Chlorine, Magnesium and Calcium in significant amounts.
The amounts of protein Quinoa contains are very high for a cereal and 4.4 grams per 100 grams of the plant can be a very significant part of your overall protein intake, especially for vegetarians who don’t get protein from meat, or vegans who avoid eggs and dairy also. The protein in Quinoa is extremely rich in essential amino acids. So, does quinoa have gluten?
The simple answer is no. Quinoa in itself contains 0 gluten, it is absolutely gluten free. That said, products containing Quinoa may have gluten in them from other sources and in fact many of them do have it. If you are suffering from celiac disease or have severe gluten sensitivity, you are absolutely fine eating Quinoa but make sure to check the labels of any products that have Quinoa as one of the key ingredients.
American Journal of Gastroenterology conducted a study seeking to prove that person with celiac disease have nothing to fear from Quinoa. During this study, 19 individuals who suffer from celiac disease and eat a gluten free diet were exposed to 50 grams of Quinoa every day for a period of six weeks. After examining the subjects after six weeks of Quinoa explosion, the scientist found absolutely no negative effects of Quinoa on these individuals. What is more 10 of the subjects actually exhibited an improvement in villous atrophy and their cholesterol levels? This study proved that Quinoa is gluten free, safe for celiacs and actually beneficial in some cases. So, does quinoa have gluten?
So What Is Quinoa Good For?
Quinoa has multiple upsides to it. Here is a list of the few well-known ones:
- Quinoa is very rich in fat content, mainly through its supply of monounsaturated fats (oleic acid). The plant seeds also contain other fatty acids such as omega-3 and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These fatty acids are especially good for your heart health. The presence of so many fatty acids had scientists convinced that the seeds would easily oxidize during the boiling process thus losing much of its nutrients, but this has not been the case as recent studies proved the seeds to oxidize much slower than expected, making boiling the seeds less harmful to their nutritious value.
- Various studies conducted on animals have shown Quinoa to be an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. The results come from a number of anti-inflammatory nutrients present in the Quinoa seeds that in combination with one another cause the anti-inflammatory results. Nutrients like phenolic acid, gamma-tocopherol and arabinans were certain to give such properties to this grain.
- One of the most recognizable properties of Quinoa is its nutritious value. For starters, most grains are very poor in protein. Whether you eat them whole or grind them into flour, most grains like wheat simply lack in protein. Quinoa, on the other hand, contains plenty. What is more, Quinoa contains very high levels of lysine and isoleucine leading to its protein to serve as full protein unlike the protein in other grains? Quinoa is also unusually rich in fat, having as much as 5 times more fat than other grains. Quinoa is also an excellent source of Vitamin E and phytonutrients. The extreme diversity of nutrients makes Quinoa a complete food and one we would highly recommend you add to your diet to some extent. So, does quinoa have gluten?
So How Do I Eat It?
You can usually purchase Quinoa at the local supermarket in bins or smaller containers. The plant is grown mostly in Central America, meaning any product you see in USA or Europe will be imported. Make sure to buy as fresh as possible. Usually, the Quinoa you will see in a market will be white although there are also red and black strains.
Make sure to rinse the seeds in water first to make sure you remove any bitter taste that may have survived the original rinsing done by the manufacturer. Preparing Quinoa is simple. Put one part Quinoa to two parts water in a saucepan and cook for some fifteen minutes. You may also want to dry roast it to add some flavor. From here it is easy enough to make it taste better. You may mix Quinoa with the likes of coriander or pumpkin seeds or add fruit or nuts to the cooked seeds. The cooked seeds may also be used in any other culinary endeavor and feel free to experiment. So, does quinoa have gluten?
Enjoy your Quinoa!
Image Credits For Does Quinoa Have Gluten
Images used via creative commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Image One by Daniel Lobo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/9924383573/
Image Two by Gail – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gail_thepinkpeppercorn/3204954046/
Image Three by Gail – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gail_thepinkpeppercorn/3190357492/