The tiny seedlike grains of quinoa are packed with nutrient power, and this food has become popular as a staple protein. In fact, quinoa contains up to 50 percent more protein than other common grains, and it is also rich in other essential nutrients. Quinoa is eaten whole, and it is also made into flour as an excellent gluten-free alternative to wheat bread and pasta. Protein powder is commonly made from whey, a natural milk protein. However, this can be unsuitable for individuals with a milk allergy or food intolerance. Several commercial protein powders also contain artificial ingredients and flavors. Quinoa flour is a natural, nutrient-rich alternative for protein powders.
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Protein powders are typically used to add protein to a low-fat diet and to supplement food as a way to build muscle strength. These powders often contain whey protein, which is a digestible milk protein. Whey is added to many foods, including bread, ice cream and infant milk formulas. However, it can cause sensitivity reactions in individuals with a food allergy or an intolerance to milk. This can lead to facial swelling, throat itching, skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea and colic in infants. Quinoa flour is a good alternative to protein powder because it is a natural, whole source of plant protein, and it is not known to cause adverse reactions.
Quinoa is one of the only plant-based foods that is considered to be a complete protein, as it provides all the essential amino acids. The Whole Grains Council explains that this is due to the unusually high ratio of protein to carbohydrate because the germ, or outer covering, makes up approximately 60 percent of the quinoa grain, while wheat germ, by comparison, makes up only 3 percent of a wheat kernel. This makes quinoa a healthy substitute for meat and dairy protein, particularly to control weight, as its high-protein content helps you feel full longer. Quinoa is also a gluten-free option for individuals with wheat allergies.
MayoClinic.com recommends whole grain as a key part of a balanced diet. All types of grains are low in fat and a healthy source of complex carbohydrates and essential minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. Though quinoa is not considered a true grain, it is a healthy choice in place of other grains such as wheat. It contains the highest content of potassium, a mineral that is important for heart health, and it helps to control blood pressure levels. According to the Cancer Dietitian website, quinoa contains five grams of fiber per cooked cup; the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper; and the vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B-6.
Quinoa is used in a diverse range of food products. This multifaceted grain is made into breakfast cereals, pastas, breads, baked good, beverages, crackers, biscuits, power bars and more. Quinoa flour can be added to smoothies and protein shakes instead of protein powders. Simply add a spoonful of quinoa flour or powder to a fruit or vegetable and blend until it has a smooth consistency. You can also puree boiled quinoa to add protein to a healthy milkshake. Quinoa is also available in whole-grain form, and you can boil and serve it as side dish in place of rice or other grains, such as couscous.