We often hear it’s the new “Superfood” and can be on a par with any gluten free foods. Quinoa has paved its way to the tables of health enthusiasts and people suffering from gluten sensitivity. But what is quinoa? Should it be labeled as a grain or a seed? More importantly, can quinoa be included as part of your paleo food list?
There are several foods in the world that are mislabeled as something else, just like tomatoes are fruits but more people know it as a vegetable. There are other processed foods, such as grains and seeds that are mistaken for something else and be excluded from Paleo recipes. Because the food is placed into the wrong group, it finds itself being added to unhealthy or unwanted food lists. One very familiar seed that is labeled and known as a grain by the majority of people is Quinoa.
Quinoa is usually cooked liked rice, before being added to salads, or made into bread, energy bars or added to smoothies. This crop was grown for domestic use about 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, but it has been in use during the last 5,200 to 7,000 years but not during the Paleolithic era. This new superfood is known to have originated from the Andean region of South America and is still highly produced in this region.
For many years, the debate as to whether quinoa is a grain or a seed has confused many people who enjoy it but do not want to have any gluten in their system. So what is quinoa? Is it a grain or seed? And if it is a seed with great benefits, should you include it on your Paleo diet food list?
Quinoa is a SEED and it has been cleared by many experts as such. Perhaps the reason why quinoa is labeled as a “grain” is because it is grown from a grain crop genus called goosefoot. It still should not be mistaken as a grain as it has distinct features from a grain. Grains grow in clusters on top of the crop, just like wheat and oats, just the way quinoa grows. However, a grain is a merging of the seed coat and the fruit which differs from quinoa. Quinoa grows like that of an ovule with an embryo inside, in the same way, that seeds grow.
Instead of being labeled under cereals where grains are to be found quinoa should be labeled as a pseudo-cereal. Pseudo-cereals are used just like cereals but are in seed form. Still not convinced? According to Wikipedia, quinoa “is a species of the goosefoot genus(Chenopodium Quinoa), a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.” So it is proper to call it a seed instead of a grain. This seed has over 120 varieties but it is more commonly known for three types: white, red and black. The leaf of quinoa can also be used as a vegetable but is not produced or used as widely as the seeds.
Quinoa is labeled as a Superfood for a number of reasons. Quinoa has a lot of essential nutrients that helps maintain a healthy body. It is a great food for people who follow a Paleo lifestyle and who want to lose weight.
Here are some of the best health benefits to be gained from including the Quinoa seed into some of your paleo meals.
Need to lose weight and concerned with your heart? Quinoa is rich in fiber and contains no saturated fat. It can help you to maintain a healthy heart by maintaining good levels of cholesterol in your body. Fiber is also known to eliminate unwanted fat deposits which can help to reduce weight. Plus fiber aids digestion and can provide relief from constipation.
If you want healthier muscles when eating paleo, quinoa can help because of its rich amino acid content. Amino acids are known to help prevent damage to muscle tissue as well help with the growth of healthy tissue.
Protein in food helps the body fill fuller for a longer period of time. In turn, this helps the body produce energy that is better for it compared to the energy produced by carbohydrates.
Perhaps this is the best part of quinoa for many who have celiac disease. Quinoa does not contain gluten and is known to be grown organically. The quinoa crop has no natural pests and barely needs any pesticides.
Possibly the worst part of quinoa is its high saponin content. Perhaps the hint you get that it has saponin is the bitterness if not rinsed or processed properly. Saponin is an anti-nutrient and can cause leaky guts if eaten in large quantities. Leaky guts usually cause chronic inflammation and can cause autoimmune diseases.
Quinoa can be part of your Paleo plan but is not highly recommended, just like starchy veggies. Although quinoa is not a grain and is naturally gluten-free, it is still recommended that you consume it in moderation when following a Paleolithic diet. You need to make sure it is processed properly to reduce the levels of saponin. This healthy seed is a great alternative for you but remember that it must be consumed occasionally. Why not grind some of the seeds down into flour and bake your own Paleo bread.