Referred to by Andean ancients as “the mother grain,” quinoa contains many nutrients, including fiber, protein and iron. This seed is often used as a substitute for grains such as rice and wheat. Quinoa is an excellent choice for diabetics, since it ranks low on the glycemic index and it is also a good food for people with digestive problems, since it contains a good amount of dietary fiber.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a small seed native to the Andes in South America. This seed has been cultivated since 3,000 B.C. and was a staple food among the local natives. Some people refer to quinoa as a grain because of its shape and cooking qualities, although it is a seed. These seeds are usually on a stalk, but they are available in stores pre-packed. There are more than 120 different varieties, although only three are cultivated and sold: Red quinoa, black quinoa and white quinoa. This seed must be cooked and yields a crunch when eaten. Quinoa seeds have a nutty, mild flavor and are roughly the size of sesame seeds. Quinoa is full of nutrients, which is often why people use it in place of grains; it also ranks low on the glycemic index, which means it causes a gradual rise in insulin.
Fiber and Nutrient Content
Quinoa seeds are made up of more than 12 percent fiber. A single serving size, which is .25 cups, contains 3 grams of dietary fiber. Thirty-six percent of this dietary fiber is soluble and 64 percent is insoluble. Soluble fiber forms a gel, which can work to reduce blood cholesterol and blood glucose. Insoluble fiber regulates bowel movements by helping material move through the digestive tract and increasing bulk.
Once you eat, the body begins to break down what is ingested. However, fiber doesn’t digest; this enables it to pass through the body relatively intact. According to the National Institutes of Health, eating a diet that’s high in dietary fiber can help regulate digestion, lower bad cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and aid in weight loss because it makes you feel fuller, faster.
The recommended daily allowance of fiber is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, according to the NIH. In the United States the average daily consumption is only 14 grams. One whole cup of quinoa would yield 12 grams of fiber, almost half of the recommended daily allowance.