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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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