Quinoa is a whole grain, grown primarily in South America where it was raised hundreds of years ago by the Incans. Flaxseed is a seed, similar to sesame seeds in appearance. The US primarily grows golden flaxseed, while brown flaxseed is popular in Canada; the two feature similar nutrition profiles. Quinoa and flaxseed are both high in fiber and confer heart-health benefits. You should grind flaxseed to derive its benefits.
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One-half cup of quinoa contains 111 calories, 20 g carbohydrate, 4 g complete protein and less than 2 g fat. Quinoa provides 29 percent of the Daily Value, or DV, for manganese, a mineral involved in bone formation and energy metabolism. Magnesium and phosphorus are present at 15 and 14 percent of the DV, respectively. Magnesium is used to build bones, manufacture proteins, release energy from muscle storage and regulate body temperature. Phosphorus helps build strong bones and teeth, release energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates during metabolism and form genetic material, cell membranes and many enzymes. Folate, present at 10 percent DV, helps form red blood cells and genetic material. Quinoa is also a fair source of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B-6, containing 5 to 9 percent DV for these nutrients.
One tbsp. of ground flaxseed contains 37 calories, 1.28 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate and 3 g total fat, primarily polyunsaturated fat. It provides 7 to 9 percent of the DV for manganese, magnesium and thiamin. Flaxseed is rich in lignans, a type of phytoestrogen that may be beneficial in preventing or slowing progression of breast, colon, prostate and skin cancers. More research is needed to prove this benefit.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Ground flaxseed is used primarily for its omega-3 benefits. It is an excellent source of alpha linolenic acid, or ALA, that helps trim your risk of heart attack and death from heart disease by reducing clotting, plaque build-up, inflammation and arrhythmias and slightly lowering blood pressure. ALA is beneficial in treating inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis. The adequate intake for ALA is 1.1 g daily for women and 1.6 g daily for men. One tbsp. of flaxseed provides 2.35 g ALA. Quinoa is not a source of ALA.
Quinoa and flaxseed are both good sources of soluble and insoluble fiber. One-half cup quinoa provides 3 g total fiber, while 1 tbsp. flaxseed contains 2 g fiber. Soluble fiber lowers total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and may reduce blood pressure. Insoluble fiber is especially beneficial for digestive tract health. Both aid in weight control by increasing satiety, or fullness.
Suggestions for Use
Quinoa is used in place of rice or pasta in dishes that call for either of these grains. To prepare, combine one part quinoa to two parts liquid -- such as water, chicken broth, vegetable stock or juice – and simmer for 15 minutes. Add to pilaf or soups or combine with fresh vegetables and vinaigrette for a salad.
Flaxseed does not need to be cooked. Stir it into hot cereal, yogurt, a smoothie or peanut butter. Incorporate flaxseed into your favorite baked good recipes by replacing some of the flour or oil with an equal amount of flaxseed. It goes well in pancakes, waffles, muffins or cookies.