Despite its relative youth with the North American health food(ie) crowd, quinoa’s history dates back thousands of years. Originally grown in the Andes in South America, the Incas revered quinoa as the mother of all grains. In fact, it was so integral to their culture that the Spanish conquistadors forbade the growing of it as a way to control and suppress them. Lucky for us, quinoa love has come full circle and the UN has actually declared 2013 as the international year of quinoa.
You may be wondering why this unassuming little grain is such a nutritional superstar, but the answer is because it’s actually not a grain at all. Quinoa is the seed of a plant belonging to the same family as other favored super-veggies including spinach, swiss chard, and beets.
So, what’s so great about this tiny seed? To start with, it’s one of the most nutritionally dense foods available. Unlike most vegetarian forms of protein, quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids, and plenty of them! It also contains twice the fiber of most other grains. Foods high in fiber and complete proteins help your digestion and your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar, which means a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Read the rest of this story on Shine from Yahoo