Mr Wondercrop played a main role in the diets of Andean civilizations in north-western South America as early as 3-4 millenia ago. The crop was held in such high regard by the Incas that they deemed it sacred and baptised it chisaya mama, meaning "mother of all grains", and a ceremony for the first planting of the season was presided by none other than the emperor himself to honour its worth.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations proclaimed 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. The use of this crop can definitely be proclaimed a growing trend in Western cuisine, leading to a staggering increase in crop production, as well as an expansion of its cultivation beyond South American borders into North America and over to Europe.
So what exactly qualifies quinoa as a superfood? Lets run through the components that make this gluten-free food an exceptional source of nutrients.
Magnesium. According to Dr Mercola, Magnesium plays a significant role in the body's detoxification process, benefits blood pressure and aids in contrasting other conditions such as cardiovascular disease and premenstrual syndrome.
Phosphorus. One cup of cooked quinoa contains nearly 30% of the recommended daily value of phosphorous, which works together with calcium to provide you with strong bones and aids in mental activities such as concentration and memory.
Manganese. Manganese has a number of health benefits, including antioxidant properties, a contribution to controlling the sugar levels in our bloodstream, and a regulation of our body's metabolism, just to name a few. It also plays an important role in the development of bones.
Folate. Another feature that makes quinoa a superfood is its folate content. Folate includes a variety of health benefits, many of which concern women: it can reduce osteoporosis and aid in the development of a healthy fetus. There is also evidence which links depression to a shortage of folate.
Protein. Though it contains less protein than many legumes, the fact that it includes all essential amino acids makes it "a complete source of protein", a status that is shares with eggs, milk, fish and meat.
Iron. Another great nutrient found in quinoa seeds is iron, which helps strengthen our immune system and contributes to the production of hemoglobin as well as muscle function.
Fibre. A cup of cooked quinoa will provide you with 8 grams of protein against the 5 grams contained in brown rice and the 4 grams in Oatmeal. Not bad!