Is Quinoa a Grain?

Is it a seed or a grain? This is the first question that people always ask in order to know in which category this type of food falls. The most important thing about quinoa, and one of the things that we all could agree on, is the fact that it is nutritious and beneficial for several reasons since it helps with different diseases and is considered healthy for the whole body including the hair, the skin, and the teeth. It is important to know whether quinoa is a grain or a seed, but the most important thing to focus your attention on is the several nutrients that it carries and through which it could provide the body with several benefits.

Quinoa Grain or Seed

As a satisfying yet confusing answer, we could say that quinoa is both; a seed and a grain. Quinoa is a plant seed and is even considered the only plant seed that carries complete protein, but at the same time, it is usually dealt with and recognized as a grain because it carries all the same benefits. Quinoa goes back to the Incas who used to sacrifice it and it is considered native to the Bolivians who used to call it “the mother of all grains”.

Given such a name says a lot about how quinoa is considered part of the grain family, it is even referred to as pseudo-cereal for being prepared in the same way as cereals and for its ability to substitute them while carrying the same taste and the same crunchy texture. Being a seed or a grain should not be a big deal for you because in both cases you will still consume it in order to benefit your body and prevent it from some diseases.

There are a lot of those people who ask whether quinoa is a grain or a seed because their diet plans should be free from grains, and even in some cases quinoa still does not agree with their diets; generally speaking, we could say that quinoa is healthy for all the different members of the family – of course except those who are less than 8 months old. The reason behind this confusion goes back to the fact that quinoa is known as a “whole grain” and sometimes referred to as an “ancient grain” and these names are even related to the places you could find quinoa in when it comes to the grocery stores and supermarkets.

Is Quinoa a Whole Grain?

The whole grain quinoa is actually not a type of grain; it is a seed that is just referred to as one. Being a seed, quinoa is gluten free, which means that it does not carry any wheat or gluten in it and this makes it safe for those who are suffering from celiac disease or those who are sensitive to gluten. Another good thing about quinoa is that it is a good source of complete protein and is one of the high protein grains out there since it carries all the essential amino acids that the body does not produce and thus will be waiting to receive from other foods.

There are different varieties or colors of quinoa, the most famously known ones are the black, the red, as well as the white, but actually quinoa does not only limit itself to those colors because there is still the purple, the green, the yellow, as well as all the shades that go between them. All these varieties of quinoa carry almost the same benefits and are cooked in the same way, but sometimes it is better to use some types over other ones according to the dishes being prepared. For example, quinoa is known to be a good alternative for rice, couscous, and pasta, but in order to do so, it would be considered better to use the traditional ivory one that is known as white quinoa in order to substitute these things with it. On the other side, the red and the black quinoa are considered suitable when they are added to cold salads because they have this ability to hold their shapes when they are being cooked.

Quinoa is a nutritious and a beneficial seed or grain; one cup of quinoa carries 8 grams of complete protein with all the essential amino acids, 5 grams of fiber, 15 percent of iron, 30 percent magnesium, 19 percent folate, 4 grams of fat, 13 percent of carbohydrates, as well as heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The existence of these nutrients and minerals give quinoa the chance to provide the body with several benefits, such as being important for maintaining the blood sugar, important when it comes to the glucose and cholesterol levels, essential for the health of the heart and thus for beating diabetes, and it is also needed for a healthy skin, hair, and teeth.

High Protein Grains like Quinoa

Although quinoa might be considered the healthiest grain out there, we should never deny the fact that all the other grains are still considered important and do have their own benefits as well. Grains in general are known to be good sources of calories, carbohydrates, B-vitamins, and protein, and the whole unrefined grains provide more protein for each carb and this is because the bran and germ of the grains contain the most protein per carb.

In addition to the quinoa grain, there are other important types of grains which could provide the body with high percentage of protein. From these different grains, we could find that:

  • Uncooked Wheat Germ: this type of grain is rich with protein since it carries 23.2 grams of protein in every 100 grams.
  • Cooked Oat Bran: the cooked oat bran carries 3.2 grams of protein in every 100 grams, making it another important grain to be mentioned when it comes to the ones that provide high protein.
  • Uncooked Rice Bran: the third type of grain is the uncooked rice bran which carries 13.4 grams of protein in every 100 grams.
  • Raw Oats: we all know that oats are healthy and they even help in weight loss programs, but talking about their share of protein, it is important to mention that they carry 16.9 grams of protein in every 100 grams as well.
  • Uncooked Wheat Bran: the last type of grain which a lot of people use and which is also considered a good choice when it comes to the high protein intake is the uncooked wheat bran which carries 15.6 grams of protein in every 100 grams.
  • Cooked Brown Rice: quinoa could substitute brown rice although they both carry the same nutrients but with different percentage and that is why quinoa might always win. The cooked brown rice is one of the high protein grains with 2.6 grams for every 100 grams.
  • Uncooked Rye Grain: one of the famous things that use the rye grain is the rye bread and which is known to be healthy. The uncooked rye grain carries 10.3 grams of protein in every 100 grams.
  • Cooked Couscous: we have already mentioned above that quinoa is a good alternative when it comes to couscous. Couscous is another high protein grain that carries 3.8 grams of protein in every 100 grams.
  • Cooked Bulgur: the cooked bulgur is important because it has the ability to give your body 3.1 grams of protein in every 100 grams you consume, and this is the reason why it falls in the category of the high protein grains.
  • Cooked Millet: the cooked millet is important for its protein intake because it carries 3.5 grams in every 100 grams.

There are different other high protein grains to be mentioned, such as roasted or cooked buckwheat groats, uncooked semolina, yellow and white corn grain, pearled and cooked barely, as well as rice noodles.

The Whole Grain Quinoa

Quinoa is usually cooked in the same way that the other grains are always cooked in, comparing it to the rice; you will most probably go through the same steps. The most important thing to know about quinoa when it comes to the cooking process is the chemical coat that usually comes with it and which is the main reason behind the bitter taste that it always has. This chemical coat, which is known as saponin, is usually rinsed by the manufacturers before the packaging and selling part but you should always repeat the same process one more time.

This coat is important for one reason, to protect the seeds from the pests and insects. In order to remove this bitter taste and get rid of the saponin coat, you have to place the seeds in a fine-mesh strainer and place them under cold water then rub them well between your both hands and before moving on to the cooking part, drain the seeds well and you could even taste to make sure that they are not bitter anymore.

The cooking process is probably known because you have moved through it with the other grains before; you will place water, the seeds, and a pinch of salt in a pot over medium heat and stir, then lower the heat, stir again, cover and simmer. This process will go for about 15 to 20 minutes before you turn off the heat and leave the seeds to cool down for about 5 minutes (the seeds should absorb the water and become tender).

We could say that quinoa is not only unique for being the only plant seed with complete protein, but it is also unique because it is a seed that is referred to as a whole grain and which carries the same benefits and is also prepared in the same way. Quinoa is beneficial and if it does not affect you or your health then you should start consuming it immediately.  

One response to “Is Quinoa a Grain?”

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