Learn the facts Quinoa

Quinoa and its high nutritional value.

I. Introduction
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa wild) is a cereal that has attracted attention because of the quality and nutritional value of its proteins.
It is mainly rich in lysine (essential amino acid), making its protein more complete than any vegetable and most cereals, having a complete amino acid composition (presence of all 9 essential amino acids). In addition, it has very low fat content, compared to animal source proteins.

II. Protein Profile
Quinoa nutrient composition has insoluble fiber like any cereal, vitamin B12, vitamins E, vitamin C, and it also has minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, copper and sodium [1].
Quinoa´s higher levels of total amino acids (methionine and lysine mainly) set it apart from other cereals such as rice, maize, barley, wheat and corn, giving Quinoa a higher protein content. (Fig. 1)

learn the facts quinoa

The protein quality of food is determined mainly by the essential amino acids profile.
Nine amino acids are strictly essential for humans: phenylalanine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and histidine [1] (essential in childhood), all of them are present in quinoa, making it a complete protein alternative compare to animal sources.

III. Fiber content
Starch (insoluble fiber) is the main carbohydrate component of quinoa and is present between 52% and 74%.
The total dietary fiber is close to the value found in cereals (7% to 9.7%) [1]. Dietary fiber has a number of beneficial effects related with its in digestibility in the small intestine. This in digestibility creates a gel in the gut that can improve digestibility and gives volume to the stools, therefore aiding in gut health.


IV. Fat content
Lipid (fat) content in quinoa ranges from 2% to 9.5% being rich in essential fatty acids such as linoleic and α-linolenic [1] which are anti-inflammatory in contrast to fatty acids found in animal source products that are pro inflamatory, and contains high concentrations of natural antioxidants such as α- and γ-tocopherol.

V. Other Nutritional Facts
The amount of calcium and iron are significantly higher than other grains. Several studies have reported large amounts of iron in quinoa.
(Ogungbenle) [3]. Others have found that potassium is the most abundant mineral in quinoa grain, followed by magnesium and phosphorus, while iron showed the lowest value. (Vega-Gálvez et al.) [2].
These large variations in the concentration of minerals in quinoa seeds depends on the soil and the climate predominance, this external factors gives the seed a different genotype depending on the region and/or applied fertilizers.

Quinoa is also an excellent example of "functional food" which may help reduce the risk of various diseases. Its nutrient profile of fiber, minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, antioxidants (phytosterols), contributes to human homeostasis (balance).
These characteristics provide the grain great advantage over other plant foods for human nutrition and health maintenance.

Phytosterols are natural components of the cellular membranes of plants present in abundance in oils, seeds and grains. They have different biological effects, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti carcinogenic activity, helping to maintain a healthy heart.

As reported by Ryan et al. [4] phytosterols present in quinoa were higher than in pumpkin, barley and corn seeds, but lower than those of lentils, chickpeas and sesame seeds.

Quinoa is an excellent source of vitamin E [6]. The amount of γ-tocopherol (Vitamin E) observed was slightly higher than the amount present in corn oil, ensuring to quinoa oil a long shelf life, due to the antioxidant power of this substance. Content of α-tocopherol is very important because it acts as a natural antioxidant at the cell membrane level, protecting fatty acids from damage caused by free radicals [7].




[1] Maradini-Filho AM, Pirozi MR, Borges JTS, Santana HMP, Chaves JBP, et al. (2017) Quinoa: Nutritional, functional and anti-nutritional aspects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 57: 1618-1630.

[2] Vega-Gálvez AV, Miranda M, Vergara J, Uribe E, Puente L, et al. (2010) Nutrition facts and functional potential of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.), an ancient Andean grain: A review. J Sci Food Agric 90: 2541-2547.

[3] Ogungbenle NH (2003) Nutritional evaluation and functional properties of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) flour. Int J Food Sci Nutr 54: 153-158.

[4] Ryan E, Galvin K, O’Connor TP, Maguire AR (2007) Phytosterol, squalene, tocopherol content and fatty acid profile of selected seeds, grains, and legumes. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 62: 85-91.

[5] Borges JTS, Bonomo RC, Paula CD, Oliveira LC, Cesário MC (2010) Physicochemical and nutritional characteristics and uses of Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.). Temas Agrários 15: 9–23.

[6] Gorinstein S, Lojek A, Cíz M, Pawelzik E, Delgado-Licon E, et al. (2008) Comparison of composition and antioxidant capacity of some cereals and pseudocereals. Int J Food Sci Tech 43: 629–637.

[7] Zhu N, Sheng S, Li D, Lavoie EJ, Karwe MV, et al. (2001) Anti-oxidative flavonoid glycosides from quinoa seeds (Chenopodium Quinoa Willd.). J Food Lipids 8: 37–44.