The Ancient Grain with the Protein Punch

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The Ancient Grain with the Protein PunchQuinoa is a grain from South America that has found its way to local grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada. This delicious grain is an excellent addition to the North American diet. No longer do you need to reach for white rice, potatoes, bread or pasta to complement a meal. Instead, you can boost your nutritional health and opt for whole grains in the form of this healing food.

Unlike some other processed grains that are really just fillers — meant to fill you up, but that add very little in the way of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients — quinoa is a very good source of protein, amino acids, manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. If you are vegetarian or vegan, quinoa is a great way to keep your protein levels up.

Recently, researchers determined that the manganese in quinoa could be beneficial to your health in a special way. Manganese is a mineral that serves as a cofactor for the superoxide dismutase enzyme. Superoxide dismutase is basically an antioxidant that helps to protect the mitochondria in your cells. It does this by preventing oxidative damage during energy production, along with guarding your other cells, such as red blood cells, from injury caused by free radicals.

The research team also determined that quinoa has an unusual composition and exceptional balance between oil, protein and fat. They conclude that quinoa is an excellent example of a functional food that could help lower your risk for a number of diseases. Along with its ability to protect cell membranes, it could help protect and boost the performance of brain neuronal functions, too. One final health benefit of this super grain, according to the researchers, is that quinoa also contains phytohormones — substances from plants that act like hormones.

Give this grain a try. It’s easy to cook. Just prepare it like you would any grain. Put water and quinoa in a pot at the ratio of 2:1 and boil until the quinoa has absorbed all the water.

For more ideas about how to boost your diet with other whole grains, read the article Ancient Grains Are Making a Comeback.

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