Gaining in popularity over recent years, quinoa offers all sorts of nutritional benefits for health-conscious people. So much so, that it has earned its own day – National Quinoa Day! Celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of March, this day is dedicated to appreciating the ancient seed that has been rediscovered and embraced by modern society. Let’s delve into the history of quinoa, discuss its growing popularity as a health food, and explore the ways you can celebrate this special day.
History of National Quinoa Day
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-waa”) traces its roots back thousands of years as a staple food in Central and South American regions, now known as modern-day Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. In some ancient cultures, quinoa was considered a ‘magical’ food and was even worshipped by Emperors. Unfortunately, this reverence led to problems in the 1500s when the Spanish arrived, resulting in the destruction of quinoa plants and a ban on its cultivation for generations.
Fast forward to the 1970s, when quinoa was introduced to North America by two American students who learned about the seed from a Bolivian philosopher and teacher. They brought quinoa to the United States and started a company to produce and sell it.
Although not truly magical, quinoa is considered a ‘superfood’ due to its rich nutritional profile. In recognition of its importance, the United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, celebrating and acknowledging the Andean people who preserved this food throughout history.
Quinoa: The Nutritional Powerhouse
Quinoa functions like a grain but is actually a seed from the plant called Chenopodium quinoa, which is related to beets, spinach, and chard. This distinction makes it a safe option for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing health benefits of quinoa:
- Full of Fiber: Quinoa can lower cholesterol, aid digestion, possibly help with weight loss, and promote heart health.
- Packed with Protein: It is one of the few plants that provide a complete protein, including essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own.
- Anti-Inflammatory Benefits: Quinoa contains phenolic acids, cell wall polysaccharides, and vitamin E-family nutrients like gamma-tocopherol, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Promotes Heart Health: Quinoa is beneficial for the heart due to its high fiber, mono-unsaturated fat, and dietary flavonoids. It may also help lower free fatty-acid levels and triglycerides.
How to Celebrate National Quinoa Day
Here are some ways to make the most of National Quinoa Day:
- Learn More About Quinoa Health Benefits: Research quinoa’s nutritional value and discover new ways to incorporate it into your diet.
- Eat Some Delicious Quinoa: Quinoa can be enjoyed in various ways, from breakfast porridge to dinner side dishes. Head to a health food store or restaurant and try a quinoa-based meal.
- Share Fun Facts About Quinoa: Spread awareness about quinoa by sharing trivia with friends and family members. Did you know that quinoa plants can grow almost anywhere, even in mountainous areas and high altitudes?
- Try New Quinoa Recipe Ideas: Boost your healthy diet by experimenting with quinoa recipes, such as Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Apples, Quinoa Egg Bowl with Pecorino, Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf, and Moroccan Quinoa Soup.