Is eating quinoa bad for you? - Side effects, facts and more

Is eating quinoa bad for you? - Side effects, facts and more

It’s the food so many of us can’t quite pronounce - “keen-wah”. It is a popular go-to for many foodies and in recent years has climbed up the ranks as a wheat-free alternative. Some might even call it a superfood, but before we declare that title, we’ve decided to look into it a little further. What are the benefits of quinoa?
  • Quinoa can improve insulin control, reducing the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream. This, in turn, can help reduce those pesky cravings.
  • It contains all nine essential amino acids - including lysine - which plays a crucial role in muscle recovery.
  • In comparison to other grains, it tops them all protein wise - weighing in at six grams of protein per cup.
  • Per serving you will find 2.5 grams of fiber, helping you feel fuller for longer.
  • Quinoa is high in a range of different minerals, including copper, manganese, phosphorus and iron.
It comes as no surprise that with these benefits, many dieters are adding quinoa into their healthy eating plans. But is there a catch? Is quinoa good or bad?

Side effects of eating quinoa

We’re going to put the question out there: Is quinoa bad for you? Some claim that quinoa can have negative effects on our health - so let’s explore the topic further. Quinoa contains chemicals called saponins - which are naturally occurring phytochemicals coating the outside of unwashed quinoa. Plus, it can leave a bitter taste in your mouth. So what’s the point of these saponins? Well, believe it or not, they serve an important purpose while quinoa is still growing - it deters pests. While it may keep pests away, when quinoa is left unwashed and consumed by humans, it can be a potential health risk. Quinoa isn’t the only food suspected for having toxins, however, as saponins are considered a well-known digestive irritant. Some believe that this phytochemical can cause small holes in the intestinal lining - potentially leading to a leaky gut. Leaky gut is just as it sounds. Yep, it allows undigested food particles, bacterial toxins and germs to pass through the gut into the bloodstream via a “leaky” bowel. This can have a knock-on effect throughout your body, causing inflammation. The effects of saponins can differ from person to person, however, some people report bloating, gas or diarrhea as a result of consuming quinoa toxins. For others, the repercussions could be more severe, especially long term or for those with an allergy to quinoa. So, if you’re looking to add quinoa into your healthy food diet, it’s imperative to do so safely.

What are the side effects of saponins? How can you avoid them?

For some, eating quinoa can cause stomach aches, hives, skin irritations and other common food allergy symptoms. This is due to what many call - quinoa toxins - aka, saponins. However! If you’re a lover of quinoa, don’t worry, we’ve got the solution! There’s no need to eliminate quinoa from your diet just yet - especially if you were feeling concerned about saponins. The answer is easy, you just need to ensure they are removed during cooking. That’s right, simply rinse before cooking to remove saponins safely (and quickly!). A telltale sign is the frothy water you may be familiar with seeing when you cook quinoa. Yep, this is an indication of the saponins! If you’ve already given them a good rinse prior to cooking, boil the kettle and use clean boiling water to repeat the rinse - much like cooking rice.

So, is quinoa really that dangerous?

Well…No, you just have to handle it properly. The common foodie will be well acquainted with washing rice, salad, vegetables and fruit, so what’s another food on the list! While it might seem like an inconvenience when you’re hungry, quinoa’s health benefits definitely outweigh an extra rinse to remove saponins. There are so many ways to add quinoa into your meals, adding not only a nutritional boost to your diet but great taste too!
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