Quinoa over time
It is believed that domestication of quinoa was done at the same time as that of the lama, 6000 years to 7000 years ago in the Andes of South America, the plant and animal living in mutual dependence since a long time.
As a sacred plant of the Incas – they called it chisiya mama, literally “mother grain”-, quinoa has contributed to the expansion of this great civilization. However, the Spaniards considered the native grain with contempt and prohibited its culture in favor of that of wheat and barley. Over the next four centuries, it declined, persistent only in uncultivated regions and far away from the decision-making centers of the Spanish administration.
In the 1970s, Westerners were aware of the need to change their eating habits and discovered the precious grain of the Incas, whose protein content, and especially the quality of the latter, surpassed that of conventional cereals. So its consumption gradually increased in Europe and North America, while in South America, apart from some remote areas, there was the opposite phenomenon.
Quinoa is now grown in other countries, including the United States and Canada, and experiments are underway to grow Quinoa in Europe. However, some argue that the Quinoa Real, which is produced in the hostile climate of the Bolivian Altiplano is by far the best.
An oil-rich grain
When compared to other grains, quinoa has a relatively high oil content, which is another element of its important nutritional characteristics1. Quinoa oil content is an average of 5.8% of its mass in its natural state. Quinoa has essential fatty acids (linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid) 55% to 63% of lipids present in its oil. Despite the high levels of these essential fatty acids, which cause oxidation, oil extracted from quinoa is relatively stable because of its high levels of vitamin E.
Quinoa contains about 15% protein, rich in essential amino acids2. It is said of an amino acid that it is essential when the body cannot produce thisamino acid on its own, and it must be supplied through diet. Quinoa is gluten free and therefore interesting for people who suffer from celiac disease.
Nutrients in the quinoa
Quinoa is an excellent source of manganese for women and a good source for men, although their needs are different. Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also helps prevent damage caused by free radicals.
Quinoa is a good source of iron for men and also for women, although their needs are different. Each cell in the body contains iron. This mineral is essential for transporting oxygen and the formation of red blood cells. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in the nerve impulse).
Quinoa is a good source of copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein for the structure and tissue repair) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also contribute to the body’s defense against free radicals.
Quinoa is a source of phosphorus (see our listing Awards nutrient phosphorus). As the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium, phosphorus plays a key role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among others in the growth and regeneration of tissue and helps maintain normal blood pH. Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cellular membranes.
Quinoa is a source of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in bone development, construction of proteins, enzyme action, muscle contraction, dental health and functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.
Quinoa is a source of zinc. Zinc participates including immune reactions, manufacture of genetic material, to taste perception, in wound healing and development of the fetus. It also interacts with the thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it is involved in the synthesis (manufacturing), with the reservation and release of insulin.
Quinoa is a source of vitamin B2. This vitamin is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. Moreover, it contributes to growth and tissue repair, to production of hormones and to red blood cell formation.
Quinoa milk may be hard to find. It is distinguished by its high lubricity. This grain is ideal for sweet recipes (milkshakes, puddings, pancakes), but its rather special taste can disturb some people.
How to make homemade quinoa milk?
Ingredients for a bottle of 1 litre
- 1 litre of water
- 100 g of quinoa
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Soak the quinoa all night.
- Drain and rinse the quinoa.
- Boil 500 ml of water. Then add the quinoa and cook it for 15 minutes.
- Put the quinoa in a blender and add 500 ml of fresh water. Blend 3 minutes until you have a smooth texture.
- Filter the mixture using a nut milk bag. You can accelerate the process by gently squeezing the nut milk bag.
- Pour in a bottle of glass the quinoa milk.
In the fridge, you can keep your quinoa milk for 3 to 5 days maximum.
- Ogungbenle HN. Nutritional evaluation and functional properties of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) flour. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2003 Mar;54(2):153-8.
- Nanqun Zhu , Shuqun Sheng , Shengmin Sang , Jin-Woo Jhoo , Naisheng Bai , Mukund V. Karwe , Robert T. Rosen , and Chi-Tang Ho. Triterpene Saponins from Debittered Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) Seeds. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (4), pp 865–867. DOI: 10.1021/jf011002l