The Mother of All Grains: Quinoa!

07.03.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

AP Photo

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, Redskins Team Dietitian

I hope you have a new found respect for the "Master Nutrient" known as Carbohydrates. If you missed out on last week's post on why carbs are good, click here!

This week I'd like to tell you about one of my favorite carb sources, Quinoa ('keen-wah').

During Ancient times, the Incas considered Quinoa the "Mother of all Grains" because they believed it increased the stamina of warriors. In fact, I have introduced this "Warrior Fuel" to several of the Redskins Players and they love it!

Whether you are a football player fueling up for Sunday's game or fueling your busy lifestyle, Quinoa is a nutritious grain worth a space on your plate!

The Many Benefits of Quinoa:

Quinoa is a whole grain and gluten free! Learn the importance of whole grain at the Whole Grains Council website.

Quinoa is a great source of protein, providing one of the best amino acid profiles of all grains! Amino acids are the "building blocks of life" - Learn more on the role of protein.

Quinoa is a good source of the amino acid Lysine, which plays an important role in tissue repair and cellular renewal. Lysine is important for recovery from both hard workouts as well as injury.

Quinoa is an excellent source of iron. Iron carries oxygen to our muscles. Not enough iron in the blood causes fatigue and weakness - Learn more on the role of iron.

Quinoa is a terrific source of fiber. Fiber helps us feel full longer, beneficial in weight loss efforts. Fiber also keeps your digestive system running smoothly (Learn more on the role of fiber through MayoClinicOnline).

Quinoa is a wonderful source of magnesium. According to the National Institutes of Health's Fact Sheet on Magnesium, "Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. There is an increased interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes." Click here to read more about the research of magnesium.

Quinoa tastes great! It has a delicate nutty flavor and can be used in place of rice or as part of salads, soups, chili or casseroles. (Learn how to cook Quinoa with some of these recipes!)

Quinoa can be found at most neighborhood grocery stores. You don't have to go to a "Health Food Store" to find this health food although it is often located in the "Health Food aisle".

I hope I've inspired you to try this super food! I'd love to hear how WOW members integrate this nutritious staple into their diets. Please share in the comment section below. Recipes are always welcome as well!

Make it a Healthy Week!

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