Quinoa pronounced as KEEN-wah is a pretty interesting food. It is mostly like grain in a lot of ways, but technically it isn’t a grain because the plant doesn’t belong to the grass family. It serves as a traditional food in different parts of South America and is becoming common in North America too. In case you try to group it under protein or carbohydrate, you may face difficulties. The reason is that it contains both. It has got a mild nutty taste to it. So, is quinoa a carb?
Let’s reel back to where it comes from. The people of Peru, Chile and Bolivia have eaten this crop for more than 5000 years. The word quinoa is derived from Inan which means ‘mother grain’. Grains are usually derived from grassy plants, but quinoa is actually a seed like a plant that seems like the seed or legume but it is not one of them. Quinoa resembles two seed like grains called amaranth and buckwheat. Quinoa is thought to be high in protein, but this doesn’t happen to be true, especially in the way people think it to be. The amount of protein found in Quinoa is more or less same as other grains. The only exception is that quinoa contains more amino acid lysine compared to other grains. This means the body will get access to all the essential amino acids it requires from quinoa.
Is quinoa a carb or protein?
You can’t usually divide the carbs and protein line in plant food because they usually contain both in different quantities. What you should keep your eyes on is your overall carb intake each if you are concerned about the high carb content. You should do the same in the case of protein. How can you basically do that? You can do that by checking the nutrition data of all the different kinds of food you consume.
Quinoa is NOT 100 percent protein. However, when quinoa is cooked, it contains 6g complete protein per cup and like the majority of the grains, it is actually high in carbs and a plenty of other good things as well.
So is quinoa better for getting your carbs or not? Well, compared to other empty carb sources such as white flour, it is better to give your body access to carbs via nutrient dense foods like quinoa because all carbs are not the same. Just so you know, it is not the carbs that have many roles to play in your weight gain but fats. Fats will make you gain weight.
Think about this for a second and you will know what I actually mean…
1tsp of oil contains 40 calories with not many nutrients.
On the other hand half cup (1 serving) cooked quinoa contains 78 calories. It consists of 3 g protein, 1.5 g dietary fiber, 1.5 g fat and 15 g carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate Content- is quinoa a complex carb?
Let’s discuss the carbohydrate content of quinoa to further accentuate on the question ‘is quinoa actually a carb?’. Each serving of quinoa consists of carbohydrates. It derives some from fiber. One cup of cooked quinoa consists of 5.5 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g of fat, and 30 g of carbohydrate. Quinoa is considered as a whole-grain food which means quinoa will digest slower compared to its refined grain counterparts. This will make you feel full for longer and will keep your blood sugar level more stable that results in lesser fluctuations in the level of energy. According to Purdue University, the nutrients in quinoa stand parallel to dried whole milk.
Complex carbohydrates are those that consist of a longer molecule chain compared to simple carbohydrate. This is the reason they take so much time to break own and be absorbed by the body. So is quinoa a complex carb? Quinoa is fiber packed and protein filled way to boost up your metabolism. So, is quinoa a carb?
Before you simply cancel out quinoa from your food list just because it contains carbohydrates, think about how nutrient dense this grain simply is. It consists of the minerals like iron, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and manganese. It also contains proteins that help to keep your skin and immune system healthy. This is what makes Quinoa a healthier option compared to refined grains like white flour which don’t contain many nutrients. So, is quinoa a carb?
Here are some more reasons to choose quinoa over other popular carb sources:
- Quinoa is full of protein- quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all the nine essential amino acids that your body requires.
- Quinoa contains 2 times more fiber than other grains- fiber is well known or relieving constipation. It reduces high blood pressure and keeps heart disease at bay. Fiber also aids in lowering glucose and cholesterol levels. It can even aid in losing weight because it takes more time to chew compared to other foods and tends to make you feel full for longer. It is also less energy dense. This means it contains lesser calories for the same amount food.
- Quinoa consists of lysine- lysine is an important component for repair and growth of tissues.
- Quinoa contains iron- iron is one of the major components of blood that keeps your red blood cells healthy and forms the base of hemoglobin formation. It is responsible for providing oxygen to cells and supply oxygen to muscles or contraction. 20% of the oxygen in the blood is utilized by the brain, which is why it is also responsible for enhancing brain function. Some other benefits of iron consist of energy metabolism, regulation of body temperature, neurotransmitter synthesis and others.
- Quinoa is rich in Manganese- manganese is antioxidant that protects mitochondria from any kind of damage while it is busy in producing energy along with safeguarding red blood cells and other cells against free radicals.
- Quinoa contains a high content of Riboflavin (B2) – B2 is responsible for boosting energy in muscle cells and brain and it also helps produce energy within cells.
Image Licensing – So, is quinoa a carb?
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