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Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa and Chenopodium nuttalliae)

Quinoa (pronounced keen'-wah), though often mistakenly categorized and referred to as a cereal grain, is the seed of an herbaceous member of the goosefoot family. Originating in South America over 5000 years ago, the Incas cultivated quinoa and referred to it as "chisaya mama" or "mother of all grains". Quinoa is prepared and tastes like a grain, but is much easier to digest. It is often recommended to substitute grains with quinoa for people who have difficulty with digestion or sensitivities to grains.

When cooked, the germ of the seed separates, creating a spiral-like tail, which gives quinoa a slightly crunchy texture. Cooked quinoa is fluffy and light, with a delicious nutty flavor.

Besides quinoa's great taste, it has many health benefits. It is replete with antioxidants and essential nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, fiber, copper, manganese and all 9 essential amino acids. It also contains zinc, potassium, phosphorus and calcium.

Studies have shown that the seed of quinoa may be helpful in preventing or treating conditions like diabetes, breast cancer, atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, migraine headaches, cardiovascular disease, and gallstones.

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Principal Author: M. Ofiyeva
Date of Initial Publication: 06/27/2007
Article Last Updated: 03/10/2011