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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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