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7 Surprising Benefits of Quinoa You Never Knew

7 Surprising Benefits of Quinoa You Never Knew

Do you know how to pronounce quinoa? Click on this link and you’ll hear it. It sounds like “keen-wa.” The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) decided last year that 2013 should be the International Year of the Quinoa because it is such a highly nutritious food. That certainly made it trendy and it suddenly became cool to serve it to guests. Recipes like quinoa tabbouleh (instead of bulgur wheat), salads of every description, soups, and even meatballs (using pork), all became the rage.

Quinoa is a gluten-free grain. It is now becoming enormously popular even though it has been around for over 4,000 years! One reason is that it has twice the quantity of protein as rice. It also has no less than nine amino acids. However, it must be said that it is not as rich in protein when compared to one serving of lentils, which contain 13 grams. Quinoa contains about half that, while a beef steak has 26 grams.

Here are 7 surprising health benefits of quinoa:

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1. Helps reduce cholesterol

Take one cup of this grain (185 grams). You will be surprised to discover that it contains 0 mg of cholesterol and a very small amount of salt (13 mg, which is just 1 percent). Cutting down on meat and dairy, which raise cholesterol levels, will reduce your chances of getting a heart attack or a stroke. You can easily opt for a quinoa salad instead of bacon and eggs.

2. Contains twice as much fiber as other grains

If you have enough fiber, you are going to avoid a lot of health problems such as constipation, diabetes and obesity. Compared to other grains such as wheat, barley and farro, quinoa has twice the amount of fiber.

3. It’s a great source of riboflavin

Quinoa has loads of vitamins but it has one in particular that is really useful in maintaining energy levels. This is vitamin B2 and is also known as riboflavin. It can help to break down the carbohydrates and fats. If you get enough vitamin B2, you will be more energetic and also have better skin, sharper vision and stronger nerves.

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4. High levels of magnesium

This marvelous grain has high levels of magnesium. If you suffer from cramps in bed, like I do, then lots of magnesium is the answer. This happens to me in hot weather and the reason is that my levels of magnesium are depleted through sweating. This affects the nerves, which contract the muscles. You need anything from 300mg to 600mg of magnesium a day. Just another reason to add quinoa to your diet on a regular basis.

5. Helps in the weight-loss battle

As I mentioned above, the high fiber content makes you feel fuller on a lower number of calories.

One typical serving of quinoa has about 170 calories, which compares very favorably with a serving of pasta at about 370 calories. You can keep the calorie count low by adding salad or vegetables. You can still get up from the table feeling reasonably full but with a much lower energy intake. You are getting all the nutritional value of quinoa as well in that its range of vitamins and minerals is second to none.

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6. Keeps your blood sugar levels steady

In order to avoid getting diabetes, it is imperative that you keep your blood sugar (glycemic index) levels low. It is shocking to realize that 6 million out of the 24 million  Americans who have diabetes, are completely unaware that they have this disease.

Simple carbohydrates (like bread, cakes and pasta) will increase your blood sugar levels and you will get cravings for more sweet things. But if you use a whole grain like quinoa, then the fiber content slows down the whole process and there are no spikes in blood sugar. That means that the insulin process is under no strain. Your chances of getting diabetes are therefore reduced.

7. It improves memory

Our brains love sugar and fat to keep them going. In fact, the brain is made up of 60% fat, but we need to feed it the right types of fat (olive oil, fish and nuts) and other minerals to keep dementia and loss of memory at bay. But the best brain-protecting compounds are flavonoids. Fortunately, quinoa was found to have a very high levels of this vital brain food. Add quinoa to your diet to keep your memory sharp.

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Have you tried quinoa yet? What did you think of the grainy, nutty flavor? Let us have your favorite recipes too in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Quinoa, Black Beans and Mango Salad/Tomatoes and friends via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2020

Kickstart Your Morning Workout With These 10 Simple Habits

Kickstart Your Morning Workout With These 10 Simple Habits

Benjamin Franklin said it like this: “Early to bed, early to rise, will make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” He knew from his own experiences and watching others that the ones who got up early were healthier and more successful. That’s why a morning workout can be so important.

One 2017 study found that:[1]

“after controlling for such factors as age, sex, smoking habits, and others…night owls, were found to have a 10 percent greater risk of dying from any cause compared to morning types.”

This is a great reason to tap into some morning motivation and get your morning workout done.

Circadian Rhythm for morning workout

    As you can see in the above graph, your blood pressure begins to rise between 6 and 7 in the morning[2]. That means this is a great time to get your body moving and your heart pumping, even if it’s just for 20 minutes of exercise in the morning. 

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    Here are some tips on how to find the motivation for a morning workout.

    1. Remember Your Why

    It starts with remembering why you want to get up for a morning workout. If you don’t set a goal and establish your reasons for accomplishing a health and fitness goal, then you definitely won’t get up early.

    Getting up early isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it, right? Your goal for your health and fitness must be so strong, and the WHY behind it must be so powerful, that nothing will stop you from accomplishing that goal.

    2. Go to Bed Early

    If you want to get up early for a morning workout, it’s going to be important to get to bed earlier. Falling asleep at midnight and trying to get up at six just won’t work in your favor.

    This will likely be very difficult for a few days while you adjust your sleeping habits. However, as you get into an exercise routine in the morning, this will naturally make it easier to fall asleep earlier and faster at night.

    3. Make a Commitment

    I sometimes tell my Facebook community of my plans to work out, and we all keep each other motivated by posting our runs, our workouts, etc. This is a way to develop accountability. By publicly announcing your intentions, you increase your chances of actually carrying out your plans.

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    Another way to do this is to find an accountability partner who has similar goals for morning workouts. You can check in with each other to make sure you’re sticking to your plans. If that doesn’t work, hire a personal trainer for a few weeks to get you started.  

    You can learn how to find a good accountability partner here.

    4. Find a Friend

    If you can find a friend that is motivated like you are, and you can hold each other accountable daily to working out, then you will accomplish your fitness goals. Many people prefer working out with friends to working out alone. Whether it’s a chat while hitting the treadmill at the gym, or having someone to spot you while weightlifting, working out with friends is sometimes just more enjoyable.

    Texting each other the night before with a simple statement is best. Don’t ask: “Are we still working out in the morning?” With this kind of question, if they were thinking about not working out, you just gave them an opt out.

    Make a statement instead: “Can’t wait to see you in the morning!” This implies that they will be there, and they will feel more obligated to show up.

    5. Treat Yourself

    We all have to treat ourselves every now and then. After a morning workout, plan to treat yourself with a colorful, healthy breakfast or a delicious morning smoothie. This will help you look forward to something and push through to the end of your workout.

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    You can learn more on rewards and punishments here.

    6. Change your Mindset

    Many people throw away the idea of a morning workout by simply saying, “I’m not a morning person.”  Instead of using this excuse, decide to try to become a morning person by shifting your mindset.

    When you look into the benefits of waking up early and getting some exercise in before your day starts, you’ll feel more positive about your life overall.

    7. Plan Your Day

    You know you’re going to be busy. Try time blocking to plan all the things you need to do on a given day, and make sure you add in your morning workout[3]. If you have a plan laid out, you’ll be more likely to follow it and get done everything on your list done.

    Time blocking

      8. Reflect on How You’ll Feel After

      Starting a morning workout is hard, but visualizing how you’ll feel after can help you find motivation. Think about the extra energy you’ll have and how proud you’ll feel knowing that you were already so productive. No matter what you do the rest of the day, at least you squeezed in your exercise!

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      For me, I live in an area where there are a lot of runners. When I am heading home in the evening or sitting out on the patio at one of my favorite restaurants, and I see the runners go by, it makes me feel so accomplished that I got mine in that morning and I can enjoy the evening.

      9. Lay out Your Workout Clothes

      Setting out your workout clothes the night before makes it impossible for you to start to run late because you couldn’t find something to wear. Tap into the determination you have before bed in order to convince your less-than-motivated morning self that you need to get up and get your morning workout in. When you wake up and see your outfit laid out next to you, it’ll push you to get up and get moving.

      10.  Set Multiple Alarms

      Many people miss their morning workout simply because they hit the snooze button so many times. In order to make this more difficult for yourself, set a series of alarms. That way, if you keep hitting snooze, you’ll have three or four alarms going off every ten minutes, which will be annoying enough to get you out of bed.

      Also, put one alarm at least a few feet from your bed so that you’re forced to get up to turn it off.

      Final Thoughts

      About three years ago I went from being the person that says I will never be an early riser to a person that loves to get the day started as soon as possible. Without the distractions that begin to come around 8 or 9 in the morning, you’ll find that you’re more productive and more likely to squeeze in that morning workout.

      Take some of the actions above and find the best morning workout routine to start your day and feel good.

      More Tips on Morning Exercises

      Featured photo credit: Tomasz Woźniak via unsplash.com

      Reference

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