Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd), from Nutritional Value to Potential Health Benefits: An Integrative Review
Abstract, Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, 2016
Chenopodium quinoa Willd, known as quinoa, has been cultivated and consumed by humans for the last 5,000-7,000 years. Quinoa was important to pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, as the Incas considered it a gift from their gods. Quinoa has potential health benefits and exceptional nutritional value: a high concentration of protein (all essential amino acids highly bioavailable), unsaturated fatty acids, a low glycemic index; vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds; it is also gluten-free; furthermore, quinoa is a sustainable food, as plants exhibit a carbon and water food print that is between 30 and 60 times lower than that of beef. Quinoa is easy to cook, has versatility in preparation, and could be cultivated in different environments. For these reasons, quinoa, previously considered a food of low social prestige, is now the focus of attention of many countries worldwide. However, few studies exist on quinoa or quinoa compounds, in vitro, in vivo and clinical trials, for assessing its potential clinical applications supported by strong scientific evidence; thus, there is a need for well-designed clinical trials and increased scientific research in this field.