Quinoa is quickly becoming one of the healthiest foods of all time, loved by those in search of delicious, nutritious foods to add to their diets. Quinoa looks like a grain and can be cooked like one, but it’s not — it’s a seed. If you’re not eating quinoa yet, here are 5 surprising facts that will make you reconsider adding this dish to your dinner plate.

1. Quinoa Contains 12 Amino Acids

One of the most important — and healthiest — aspects of the quinoa seed is that it contains a whopping 12 amino acids. That’s more than any other grain or cereal. We know that amino acids are literally the building blocks of life, and our bodies need them to continue building and repairing cells, as well as for carrying oxygen throughout the body and fighting off germs and bacteria.

Quinoa’s amino acid profile is stunning, containing arginine, cystine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine and valine. These amino acids are critical to life but cannot be made by the body, so they have to come from our foods. Complex names may not mean much to the average consumer, but knowing that quinoa is one of the most nutritious, gluten-free plant proteins available on the market is enough to keep several bags in the pantry.

2. There Are Over 120 Varieties of Quinoa

If you’ve shopped for this marvelous superfood, you’ve probably only found a few varieties, namely black, red, and white quinoa. While these are the most widely commercially available types of quinoa, the Whole Grains Council suggests that there are actually over 120 different types of quinoa today. Quinoa seeds can come in almost any color, including yellow, orange, green, and purple. If you’ve tried different types of quinoa before, you already know that each variety has a slightly different taste. Black quinoa tends to be sweeter, while white quinoa has more of a neutral flavor profile and is perfect to use in quinoa recipes.

3. It’s Pronounced “Keen-wah”

If you’ve mispronounced quinoa, don’t be embarrassed. Most people do at first, sounding it out phonetically like “qwi-noah.” However, the word is actually only two syllables and is pronounced “keen-wah.” Although, since it is mispronounced so often, you’ll probably still be directed to the right section of the store, regardless of whether you ask for “keen-wah” or “qwi-noah.”

4. Quinoa is Over 7,000 Years Old

When you hear that quinoa is an ancient grain, it’s the truth. Quinoa is very old, and dates back over 7,000 years to the Incans. The Incans prized quinoa for it’s excellent nutritional properties, and was even revered as sacred. However, Spanish colonists began to phase out this amazing food in favor of other, less nutritionally dense foods, like barley, corn, and wheat. It has been only recently that quinoa was rediscovered and remarketed as the high quality food that it is.

5. You Can Make Almost Anything Out of Quinoa

Almost anything you can do with a grain, you can do with quinoa for a healthier, low-carb version. Quinoa pancakes? Absolutely. Quinoa pizza crust? Definitely! Sub out rice or pasta for quinoa for an instant nutritional and flavor boost to your meals, and avoid the heavy carbs that come with rice and wheat flour. There are absolutely endless possibilities with this incredible seed!

Next time you head to the store, grab a bag of quinoa and try out a few different recipes. Whether you’ve eaten quinoa before and loved it, or are just trying it for the first time, there are no shortage of surprising reasons why quinoa should be a nutritional staple in your home.

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One Comment

  1. Robert Jones says:

    “Sub out rice or pasta…” I daresay I can work out what that means, but it would have been nice to have had it in English. As for finding quinoa – however pronounced – not in my local shop: Wayne the grocer wouldn’t know what it was. So I’ll have to stick to egg and chips; pasta is vile anyway…..

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