Quinoa: Another Whole Grain to Promote a Healthy Blood Pressure

by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN - wah) has become a hot commodity the past few months according to a National Restaurant Association survey.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa is not technically a grain, but the seed of a large plant called Chenoposium quinoa or Goosefoot plant. Quinoa is available in many colors (ivory, pink, red, white, brown, black) and forms (grains, flakes, cereals, pastas).

Nutrient Analysis

From a health perspective, quinoa is unique because it is a plant that supplies essential amino acids and can be classified as a "complete protein". Most plant proteins are incomplete and must be paired (such as red beans with rice) to form a complete protein. The USDA Nutrition Data gives quinoa a protein score of 106. A protein score greater than 100 indicates a complete or high quality protein.

A 1 cup serving of cooked quinoa provides:

222 calories
4 grams of fat
8 grams of protein
5 grams of fiber
13 milligrams of sodium

The low sodium content makes it an ideal meal addition if you struggle with high blood pressure and the low fat, high fiber makes it a great tool to promote a lower cholesterol level.

Quinoa provides calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and several B vitamins.

How to add quinoa to foods

Wash the quinoa seeds prior to cooking to remove a bitter resin-like coating called saponin. The saponin will produce soapy looking "suds: when you rinse the seeds.

There are many options for adding quinoa to your diet. Here are just a few: You

can add cooked quinoa to casseroles, soups, and stews. Seeds typically cook in ~15 minutes. You can use quinoa in dishes as you would barley or brown rice. Toast the quinoa seeds on a pan in the oven or "sprout" the quinoa seeds and eat raw as a snack or in salads.

Due to the oil in quinoa, it should be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator and used within 3 months.

Additional Benefit

Also, for those dealing with a gluten-intolerance, quinoa is a great option because it is gluten free.

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
Meet Our Writer
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so you can live life and enjoy your family for years to come. Lisa's passion for health comes from her own family history of heart disease, so she doesn't dispense trendy treatments; Lisa practices what she teaches in her own daily life. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques.