Quinoa, pronounced “keen wa”, is a popular superfood known for its health benefits. Quinoa brings a lot to the table, with it being rich in protein, low on the glycemic index, gluten free and packed with vitamins and minerals. Quinoa comes in quite a few colors, but its most well-known varieties are white, black and red.

Quinoa has a fluffy texture and tastes slightly nutty. Commonly considered a grain, quinoa is the seeds of a flowering plant in the Amarnath family and has its roots in north-western South American countries of Chile, Peru and Bolivia.

Quinoa translates to “mother grain” in the Incan language and is the crown jewel of Andean agriculture, and Olam’s organic Quinoa value chain covers the entire spectrum of contributors. Farmers, agronomists, processing operators and many more count on Olam to bring this product they take so much pride in, to market.

To learn more about how Olam brings organic quinoa from the Andean region to the North America, Europe and the rest of the world, check out this blog by our very own Dustin Nelson

Quality & Safety - Olam's Commitment

Olam ensures the quinoa we sell is of the highest grade.  We provide our farmers all the support they need right from when they sow the seeds all the way until harvest, as well as during the off season leading into the next crop year. Olam has also invested in a state-of-the-art processing facility in Peru, with a dedicated team of quality, production and office professionals.

In fact, the plant is certified BRC AA rating, the highest qualification possible, which guarantees that customers receive a product that complies with food safety standards and is safe for consumption. Click here to learn more about Olam’s commitment to ensuring we deliver the best possible superfoods products at all times.

What many don’t know about this versatile crop is that it has been able to thrive in the harshest of conditions in South America for thousands of years, up to 4,000 metres above sea level in the Andes Mountains. Quinoa overcomes adversities such as drastic changes in temperatures throughout the day, possibility of drought, salinity, and heavy winds.

Such remarkable levels of adaptability along with its high nutritional value has made quinoa the staple food for people of the region. In fact, its nutrient profile is so impressive that NASA scientists are contemplating growing the crop in outer space. Quinoa has also caught the eye of the United Nations, with the body declaring 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa”.

Let us now look at some of the health facts and benefits of this versatile crop.

Nutritional Profile & Benefits

Quinoa is very nutritious and is an excellent source of magnesium, protein, fiber, vitamins B and E, folate, and more. Just one cup of cooked quinoa, which equates to 185 grams, has the following, based on a 2,000 Calorie reference diet:

  • Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Magnesium: 30% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Phosphorous: 28% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Folate: 19% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Copper: 18% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Iron: 15% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Zinc: 13% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Potassium: 9% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Protein: 8.1 g, 16% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Fiber: 5.2 g, 21% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Calories: 222, 11% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Carbohydrate: 39.4 g, 13% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Fat: 3.6 g, 5% of the recommended daily allowance

Quinoa is low on the glycemic index

Quinoa is a great food option for people who have issues with blood sugar levels. Quinoa’s glycemic index is fairly low, rated at 53. The glycemic index is the rate at which food increases your blood sugar. Consuming foods that are on the higher end of the glycemic scale may lead to obesity and impaired glucose metabolism. This makes quinoa a good inclusion in healthy meals.

However, it is important to note that quinoa has around 39 g of carbs in one cup, which can be a concern for those on a low-carb diet. 

Quinoa is rich in protein

Quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein for vegans and vegetarians as it contains 8.1 grams of it in one cup. Many plant-based foods might lack certain essential amino acids, such as lysine, but quinoa bucks the trend. Since quinoa offers all nine essential amino acids, it is categorized as a “complete protein”.   It has more protein than its grain peers and exceeds the recommendation for all the essential amino acids.

The essential amino acids, as mentioned by the National Institutes of Health, are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Quinoa is gluten free

A sizeable chunk of the US population suffers from celiac disease, a medical disorder that results in autoimmune damage to the small intestine in response to gluten consumption. Medical News Today reports that 1 in 133 in the US suffer from celiac disease. Medical News Today further reports that it is imperative that people with celiac disease follow a gluten-free diet. Untreated celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and other conditions, including multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, infertility, and neurological conditions.

Quinoa could be very helpful and practical for people who are celiac or gluten intolerant as it is nutrient dense and more importantly widely available. Additionally, using quinoa as an ingredient is beneficial as it can significantly improve the nutritive properties of meals.

Quinoa may help in weight loss

Quinoa may promote the effective management of weight when added to a healthy diet and regular exercise regime. Quinoa’s nutritional profile helps it play the role of a catalyst for weight loss. Its high protein content not only helps consumers increase their metabolic activity through diet-induced thermogenesiswhich can promote weight loss, but also improves satiety.

Additionally, Quinoa’s high fiber content helps consumers feel satiated and eat fewer calories, and its low glycemic index also encourages people to reduce their food intake by reducing food cravings.

To summarize, Quinoa’s high content of fiber and protein, coupled with its low glycemic index, may have a noticeable effect on weight management and overall health.

Quinoa has beneficial antioxidants

Quinoa is high in beneficial antioxidants that help protect one from oxidative stress that can negatively impact your health and lead to many medical complications. The antioxidative property also plays a role in  slowing down aging.

A study about the indigenous grains from the Peruvian Andean region researched the antioxidant levels in two legumes, three pseudo-cereals and five cereals. The results indicated that quinoa had the highest levels of beneficial antioxidants amongst the ten foods.