Health Benefits Of Quinoa

What is Quinoa ?

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) is an ancient pseudoceral or pseudograin known to its extremely nutritional value. It originates from the region in Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia back in 3,000 to 5,000 BC.(1)

It is a gluten-free, rich in proteins, B vitamin complex,vitamin E, calcium, and consists of all 9 essential amino acids. It contains small amounts of omega-3-fatty acids.

There are three known types of quinoa : white, red and black.

Types Of Quinoa

Quinoa is high in essential minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium.

It is abundant in fiber, phosphorus and various beneficial antioxidants. The majority of fiber in quinoa are insoluble, therefore might not be of same value as soluble ones. In spite of that fact, they are still valuable in the reduction of blood glucose levels, cholesterol. Fibers also increase the sense of satiety.(2)(3)

Quinoa also contains a substance named phytic acid, that may bind mineral, thus reducing their absoption.

Quinoa is abundant in phytonutrients that act antiinflammatory. Thus, it is of great value for the prevention and treatment of various chronic diseases.

antiinflammatory effect

  • It is comprised of small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fat.
  • It is rich in oxalates that decrease the absorption of calcium. Oxalates might lead to the onset of kidney stones. (4)
  • Quinoa consists of all essential amino acids, therefore it is an exceptional source of proteins.
  • A protein carbohydrate proportion is high in quinoa. It is therefore recommended by NASA as an ideal space flight meal ingredient.
  • Quinoa contains a physiologic quantity of fatty acids. They are 25% in the form of oleic acid, monounsaturated fat, whereas 8% are in the form of alpha-linoleic acid.
  • There are numerous flavonoids present in quinoa that are extremely benefitial in the prevention of various chronic disease.
  • The most important flavonoids in quinoa are kaempeferol and quercetin. (5)
  • Kaempferol (3,5,7-trihydroxy-2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one) has strong antioxidant, antiinflammatory and chemopreventive attributes. It regulates important enzymes involved in metabolism, oxidation and cancerogenesis (catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione-S-transferase).
  • Quercetin (3,5,7,3,4 – pentahydroxyflavone) represent a polyphenolic flavonoid with chemopreventive properties.


These flavonoids have significant antiinflammatory, antiviral, anticancer and antidepressant activity. (6)(7)(8)

Gluten Intolerence

Quinoa is gluten-free. The incorporation of quinoa in regular diet instead of common gluten-free nutritients (potato, corn , rice flour) could increse the nutritional and antioxidant value of the diet. (9)

health benefits of quinoa Gluten Intolerence

1. Diabetes

Quinoa is shown to have a low glycemic index (53), thus it is recommended in diabetic patients. (10)

Quinoa is good at stimulating hunger and may lead to obesity in certan individuals. (11)

It is as well high in carbohydrates, therefore not recommended in a low-carb diet.

2. Obesity

There are certain compounds in food that may either facilitate the weight loss or reduce apettite. Dut to its high protein content, it may increase metabolism, and reduce apettite. (12)

It is high in fibers, that are capable to reduce the calorie intake.

3. Lowers Cholesterol levels

Due to high amounts of dietary fibers, quinoa, as kale, is helpful in binding the bile acids in the intestine. Thus, it activates the cholesterol deposits and reduces its concentration in the blood, mostly LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).


Lowers Cholesterol levels

4. Cardiovascular Effect

Due to high concentrations of magnesium and benefitial antioxidative substances, quinoa may prevent cardiovascular disorders. (13)

5. Anemia

Quinoa is rich in iron, thus it is recommended in individuals that are iron deficient

6. High Blood Pressure

Quinoa is rich in magnesium, that is essential in maintaining the physiological levels of blood pressure.

7. Digestive Effects

Quinoa is a good source of nonsoluble and soluble fiber, therefore it is good for digestion system. It retains water in the large intestine, improving bowel movements and absorption.

Due to high amount of insoluble fibers, it could prevent diverticulosis or hemorrhoids.

8. Enhances Weight Loss

Quinoa is rich in dietary fibers so it is recommended in obese individuals. It promotes peristalsis and enhances the degradation and elimination of unnecessary substances in the gastrointestinal tract.

9. Colorectal Cancer

The incidence of colorectal cancer is lowering in individuals consuming beans with high proportion of dietary fibers, such as quinoa.

10. Improves Metabolic Reactions

Researchers have concluded that quinoa is far more benefitial in comparison to gluten-free breads. Quinoa markedly decreases blood glucose concentration, insulin and triglyceride level. (14)

11. Bone Metabolism

It is high in magnesium which prevents diseases associated with magnesium deficiency, such as osteoporosis. (15)

12. Antioxidative Effect

Quinoa is very rich in antioxidative substances that neutralize free radical molecules. Such reactions are of great value to delay aging and the onset of many diseases. (16)

Antioxidative Effect

In quinoa there are high amounts of antioxidative molecules such as polyphenols, phenolics and anthocyanins that contribute to the elimination of free radicals.

13. Antiinflammatory Properties

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Inflammatory Bowel disease

Quinoa may be helpful in the reduction of inflammatory processes in various autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.

Such mechanism is supported by substances named saponins(17). Other antiinflammatory compounds are flavonoids, polysaccharides, phenolic acids, and vitamin E such as gamma-tocopherol. (18)

14.Antiseptic Effects

Since ancient times, quinoa has been used in the treatment of skin injuries. The active component is saponin. Due to their antimicrobial attributes, saponins may be used in the treatment of an injured or sensitive scalp.(19)

Possible Side Effects

1. Kidney stones

Quinoa is abundant in oxalates that are capable of decreasing the absorption of calcium. This reaction could lead to the higher recurrence of kidney stones.

Kidney stones

2. Digestive disorders

Due to high amount of oxalic acid, it may lead to certain digestive impairments in young children.

In case of high intake of fibers, bloating, gas and stomach pain could be present.


  1. Abugoch James LE.Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.): composition, chemistry, nutritional, and functional properties.Adv Food Nutr Res. 2009;58:1-31.
  2. Weickert MO, Pfeiffer AF.Metabolic effects of dietary fiber consumption and prevention of diabetes.J Nutr. 2008 Mar;138(3):439-42.
  3. Britt Burton-Freeman.Dietary Fiber and Energy Regulation. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences
  4. Voss S, Hesse A, Zimmermann DJ, Sauerbruch T, von Unruh GE.Intestinal oxalate absorption is higher in idiopathic calcium oxalate stone formers than in healthy controls: measurements with the [(13)C2]oxalate absorption test.J Urol. 2006 May;175(5):1711-5.
  5. Peñarrieta JM, Alvarado JA, Akesson B, Bergenståhl B.Total antioxidant capacity and content of flavonoids and other phenolic compounds in canihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule): an Andean pseudocereal.Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jun;52(6):708-17.
  6. Stewart LK, Soileau JL, Ribnicky D, Wang ZQ, Raskin I, Poulev A, Majewski M, Cefalu WT, Gettys TW.Quercetin transiently increases energy expenditure but persistently decreases circulating markers of inflammation in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet.Metabolism. 2008 Jul;57(7 Suppl 1):S39-46.
  7. Murakami A, Ashida H, Terao J.Multitargeted cancer prevention by quercetin.Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):315-25.
  8. Yan Hou et al. Anti-depressant natural flavonols modulate BDNF and beta amyloid in neurons and hippocampus of double TgAD mice. NeuropharmacologyVolume 58, Issue 6, May 2010, Pages 911–920
  9. Lee AR, Ng DL, Dave E, Ciaccio EJ, Green PH.The effect of substituting alternative grains in the diet on the nutritional profile of the gluten-free diet.J Hum Nutr Diet. 2009 Aug;22(4):359-63.
  10. Belinda S Lennerz et al.Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. 2013 American Society for Nutrition
  11. David S. Ludwig,High Glycemic Index Foods, Overeating, and Obesity.Pediatrics
  12. March 1999, VOLUME 103 / ISSUE 3
  13. Westerterp-Plantenga MS.Protein intake and energy balance.Regul Pept. 2008 Aug 7;149(1-3):67-9.
  14. Bo S, Pisu E.Role of dietary magnesium in cardiovascular disease prevention, insulin sensitivity and diabetes.Curr Opin Lipidol. 2008 Feb;19(1):50-6.
  15. Berti C, Riso P, Monti LD, Porrini M.In vitro starch digestibility and in vivo glucose response of gluten-free foods and their gluten counterparts.Eur J Nutr. 2004 Aug;43(4):198-204. Epub 2004 Jan 6.
  16. Sara Castiglioni, Alessandra Cazzaniga, Walter Albisetti, and Jeanette A. M. Maier. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Nutrients. 2013 Aug; 5(8): 3022–3033.
  17. Ranilla LG, Apostolidis E, Genovese MI, Lajolo FM, Shetty K.Evaluation of indigenous grains from the Peruvian Andean region for antidiabetes and antihypertension potential using in vitro methods.J Med Food. 2009 Aug;12(4):704-13.
  18. J. M. Gee et al .Saponins of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa): Effects of processing on their abundance in quinoa products and their biological effects on intestinal mucosal tissue. Science of Agriculture. Volume 63, Issue 2. 1993 . Pages 201–209
  19. José Bernardo Solíz-Guerrero.Quinoa Saponins: Concentration and Composition Analysis. Solíz-Guerrero, J.B. D. Jasso de Rodriguez, R. Rodríguez-García, J.L. Angulo-Sánchez, and G. Méndez-Padilla. 2002. Quinoa saponins: Concentration and composition analysis. p. 110–114. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.