Varieties of quinoa
Different varieties of quinoa are displayed at a market in Lima's Surquillo district on February 25, 2015.Reuters

Quinoa, a  grain grown in South America, observed a bloom in demand of about 300 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. 

Belonging to the family of spinach, beets and chard, this superfood is said to be a good substitute for grains like wheat, rice and barley. 

What makes quinoa a superfood?

Any food that provides several health benefits to your body and strengthens immunity is called 'superfood'.

Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wa') helps in controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, which aids in curbing diabetes. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and boosts heart health.

Nutritional benefits of this crop:

1. High in protein
It has got twice more protein content than rice.

2. Low fats and calorie content
The low fat and low calorie content makes quinoa a brilliant food for health conscious people.

3. Contains dietary fibre
It is fibrous and helps in curbing constipation and improving bowel movement.

4. Includes calcium
Quinoa is said to provide calcium in abundance and help in making your bones and teeth stronger. This mineral is especially crucial for women's body.

5. Provides vitamin E and B complex
These vitamins are very important for growth and development of the body and play an important role in hair growth, vision, brain health and skin health.

6. It is gluten-free
The grain is gluten-free and can be easily consumed by people allergic to this protein.

Quinoa also provides you magnesium, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. Various studies have also found that it contains antioxidants, which gives it anti-ageing properties. Quinoa also aids in weight management and helps in keeping you filled for long hours. 

Here are some things you need to know about quinoa if consuming it for the first time:

  • Make sure the packet of quinoa you buy is properly sealed so that its freshness is maintained.
  • Store the crop in an air-tight container in a dry area.
  • Remove the coat covering the quinoa seeds (saponins) as it tastes bitter.
  • Wash quinoa properly with cold water before cooking it, this also helps in removing the saponins.
  • Quinoa can be prepared like rice, use a bigger utensil as this grain expands on cooking.
  • It can also be consumed as a salad accompanied with other healthy ingredients.