Ask the Diva: Is Quinoa Really As Healthy As They Say?
Q. I must eat a gluten-free free diet and have made quinoa a regular part of my diet over the last few years. Recently it's been gaining popularity and I hear a lot of talk about the health benefits it offers, like high protein and easy digestibility. How much of this buzz is true?
A. As is often the case, the “buzz” has some basis in truth but may be a bit exaggerated. Compared with other whole grains, quinoa is in the middle of the pack in terms of total protein content—but it’s a higher quality protein because of its specific balance of amino acids. Still, I wouldn’t consider quinoa a high-protein food. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 8 grams of protein, or around 15% of the Daily Value. (See also my show, How Much Protein Should You Eat?)
I’ve also seem claims about quinoa being highly digestible but I don’t know why and can’t find any explanation or evidence to back that up. If anyone has more specifics on that, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll update my answer in a future newsletter.
Meanwhile, here’s my recipe for Cold Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Pecans, a family favorite at this time of year.