By Victor Marchione, MD
In the annals of food cures, one whole grain rises to the top of the pile. Its name is quinoa, and here, in the final part of this short series, are three more compelling reasons why nutrition experts consider it a “superfood.” Read part one of this series for the first four common health problems solved by quinoa.
1. Quinoa vs. Heart Disease
Eating quinoa five or six times a week is an excellent way for older adults who might be at higher risk of heart disease because of elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure. One good study found postmenopausal women with heart disease were able to cut down the buildup of plaque in their arteries and stop their arteries from narrowing so quickly. Thus, quinoa could free up your arteries and help your heart function.
2. Quinoa vs. Migraines
Want to slash the pain of migraines by helping prevent them from striking? Add quinoa to your diet. Inside the nutritious shell of quinoa is a heaping pile of magnesium, which works inside your body to minimize the risks for a migraine. For example, it relaxes the blood vessels leading to your brain, and stops them from constricting during a migraine attack. Studies have proven that getting more magnesium in one’s diet could reduce the frequency of migraines. One such study had 80 patients take placebo or 600 mg of magnesium a day for three months. With other studies backing up the results, this study found that magnesium significantly reduced the amount of migraines—by 40%. Also, the vitamin B2 in quinoa could help prevent migraines by improving the way energy is used and created within the cells of the brain and muscle.
PLUS: Some good news for migraine sufferers.
3. Quinoa vs. High Blood Pressure
That blood vessel relaxation we just mentioned, due to magnesium’s great presence in quinoa, helps people lower the pressure inside blood vessels. So, for anyone with hypertension, or perhaps prehypertension, eating quinoa on a regular basis could lower blood pressure a little bit all by itself, and also reduce your risk of ischemic heart disease and heart arrhythmias. This, combined with the first item in this list, makes quinoa a major league whole grain for your circulatory system.
4. Quinoa vs. Gallstones
Painful stones that build up in the gallbladder can be prevented by eating such high-fiber foods as quinoa. In one telling study, gastroenterological experts studied the fiber intake of 70,000 women over 16 years. They found that those who ate fiber-rich whole grains had a 13% lower risk of developing gallstones. Those who ate the most fiber had a 17% lower risk than those who ate the least.
Quinoa helps prevent the stones because its insoluble fiber allows for healthy digestion and quicker movement of food through the intestines, but most of all because it reduces the amount of bile acids that are secreted.
5. Quinoa vs. Type 2 Diabetes
Quinoa is very high in magnesium, a mineral that runs part of the show in your body’s insulin secretion and glucose production. Eating quinoa will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, a condition that has gone through the roof over the past 20 years. One study lasted eight years, and included more than 41,000 women. It helped confirm that eating foods with higher levels of both magnesium and calcium was associated with less likelihood of type 2 diabetes.
Women who ate whole grains high in magnesium were 31% less likely to get the condition than those who ate the lowest amount of magnesium-rich foods. All by themselves, whole grains such as quinoa led to a 20% reduced risk. Quinoa has a special role here, potentially shielding you from a difficult disease.
6. Quinoa vs. Osteoporosis
Quinoa is exceptionally high in the trace element manganese. Alongside calcium and vitamin D, this element is needed for healthy bones. Because it plays a role in the metabolism of bone, it’s been suggested for treating osteoporosis. Its positive effect, though, is tapered a bit due to the fact it is seen only when manganese is combined with minerals. When taking manganese is taken with other calcium and zinc, bone density has improved in people, particularly women. You don’t hear about this one that often, but don’t ignore it. Manganese is the most abundant element in quinoa.
7. Quinoa vs. Obesity
One good-quality study investigated whether eating quinoa, buckwheat, or oats could make one feel fuller than eating rice or wheat. This would translate into a reduced risk of eating more food later on, which would keep the weight down for many of us. Lots of the foods that we eat are not satiating enough, and a few hours later, we are hungry for more—or we eat more servings than we need, and the calories pile up. Researchers found that quinoa has a potential impact on the way we eat, is full of functional nutrients, and is very satisfying—unlike, specifically, white bread.
Quinoa is one food that you can stock up on and eat, worry-free. Check out some recipes; it is being used more and more in delicious ways.
Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The Food Doctor newsletter. Dr. Marchione has also served as Principal Investigator in at least a dozen clinical research projects relating to serious ailments such as bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).