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10 Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa isn’t just some hipster food, it’s actually incredibly nutritional and versatile. It’s a grain that’s grown and the seeds are eaten. It’s not quite a grass and not quite a cereal, but it’s related to other healthy vegetables like spinach and beetroot.

A common ingredient in vegetarian food, there’s no reason why carnivores and herbivores alike can’t enjoy quinoa. It can be served alongside meat, used in a wide range of cuisines, and it has a huge number of benefits. Here are the top ten reasons why you should start eating quinoa today.

1. It has an amazing nutrient breakdown
Ever wondered what quinoa actually offers you? This is a breakdown of the nutritional value of quinoa. Each percentage relates to your recommended daily allowance and the quantity is just one cup.

  • Potassium – 9%
  • Zinc – 13%
  • Iron – 15%
  • Copper – 18%
  • Folate – 19%
  • Phosphorus – 28%
  • Magnesium – 30%
  • Manganese – 58%

The same cup also contain five grams of fiber and eight grams of protein. All of this is much more than you’d get with a lot of other foods and it even gives you a vitamin boost containing vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E.

2. It’s low in calories
Not only is it good for you, it’s really low in calories, too–this makes it ideal if you’re trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthy body weight. One cup of quinoa is just 22 calories and contains only four grams of fat.

3. It’s versatile
Quinoa being versatile means it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. It goes well with pretty much any food you imagine and, just like couscous, you only need to cook it with water. Two cups of water and one cup of quinoa boiled for around 20 minutes will give you a healthy snack and it can be combined with any spices and vegetables you like to create a satisfying meal. It even works as a great side dish with steak and other meats.
Because it contains protein, it’s also fantastic for weight lifting and body building.

4. It keeps your blood cells healthy
With such a large amount of iron, quinoa can help keep your red blood cells healthy. Iron is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and the iron itself carries oxygen from cell to cell. Without it, brain function would suffer, muscles would suffer, and we would suffer with overall poor health. In short, quinoa gives you access to a mineral that is essential for your whole body to function properly and if you’re lacking iron in your current diet incorporating quinoa into your food will solve that problem and help give your body access to all the oxygen it needs.

Quinoa

5. It contains more fiber than many other grains
Out of all the grains that people regularly eat, quinoa is one of the best for its fiber content. Fiber is an essential nutrient that does much more than regulate your bowel movements–it actually keeps the heart healthy by reducing the risk of developing diabetes and helping reduce your blood pressure. It even lowers cholesterol and helps manage levels of glucose in your blood. It’s an essential part of our diet and quinoa gives you access to more of it than most other grains. A simple switch from one grain to quinoa can significantly improve your health with very little effort at all.

6. It’s rich in magnesium
Magnesium doesn’t seem like something we should have in our bodies, but it performs an essential function–relaxing our blood vessels. This allows blood to flow freely throughout the body, it reduces the chances of developing high blood pressure (which is not helped by restricted blood flow and vessels), and can even prevent migraines–which is great for those looking for a natural solution.
As if that all isn’t enough, magnesium helps prevent diabetes (Type 2), it improves transmission of nerve impulses, it aids detoxification within the body, and assists with the growth of healthy bones.

7. It’s full of antioxidants
Antioxidants prevent oxidizing damage within the body and quinoa is loaded with them. These essential antioxidants within quinoa help prevent aging allowing us to live healthier for longer. They also assist the body in the fight against a great range of diseases and, out of most cereals and legumes, quinoa wins on the levels of antioxidants it offers.

8. It helps you lose weight
By being so low in calories, and so filling, quinoa helps you lose weight. It’s high in protein which increases your metabolism and allows the body to break down foods more efficiently by separating what it needs and what it doesn’t. The protein also means that quinoa makes you feel full and reduces your appetite meaning you’ll be less likely to binge on chocolate and cakes after a meal.

9. It has a low glycemic index
This probably doesn’t mean much to a lot of people–so, in short, this means that it can help maintain your blood sugar levels. This is why quinoa is so great for preventing Type 2 diabetes, as we have already discussed. When you eat foods that are higher up on the glycemic index, your body feels the need to eat more–however, the lower it is, the less likely you will continue to feel hungry after eating.
A lot of the junk food we love is right up at the top which is why it’s so easy to binge eat without even thinking about it.

10. It’s gluten free
If you’re gluten free, quinoa is perfect for you. Many people are gluten intolerant now and quinoa is a grain that these people can eat without worrying about stomach upsets. Foods that are gluten free by their nature are better for you than foods that have been designed to be gluten free–so ditch the man-made gluten-free foods and choose quinoa instead.

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You may be a pizza-holic: Research says some foods addicting

By Carina Storrs, special to CNN     Mon October 26, 2015

(CNN) Pizza, French fries and ice cream may be the kinds of foods many of us love to indulge in after a night of drinking. But research earlier this year suggests we can actually have benders on these foods all by themselves, and it may even be a sign of an addiction.

Researchers have wondered whether we can become addicted to food for more than a century. There have been reports of people losing control over how much they eat, and experiencing withdrawal when they are cut off, just like with drug and alcohol addiction. By now, many agree that food addiction can be a real problem for at least some types of foods.

For the first time, a team of researchers looked at exactly which types of foods could be the most addictive. They asked a group of 120 undergraduates at the University of Michigan, and another group of nearly 400 adults, about 35 different types of food – from pizza to broccoli – and whether they think they could have problems controlling how much they ate of each one. Eighteen of the items were processed foods, meaning they contained added sugars and fats.

Topping the list were pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies, ice cream, French fries, cake and soda, all considered processed foods. They were followed by cheese and bacon – both unprocessed foods, but high in fat and salt.

Fruits and vegetables (strawberries, carrots and broccoli, for example) were at the bottom of the list.

“In a similar manner that drugs are processed to increase their addictive potential, this study provides insight that highly processed foods may be intentionally manufactured to be particularly rewarding through the addition of fat and refined carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar,” said Erica Schulte, graduate student of psychology at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study, which was published in February in PLOS One.

cheese

The researchers found that the most problematic foods tended to be those with a high glycemic load, meaning they contained a lot of sugar and caused a spike in blood sugar. The authors wrote that these qualities could make foods more difficult to stop eating in a similar way as drugs that are highly concentrated and rapidly absorbed into the body are more addictive.

The researchers also found that, among the adults in their study, those with a high BMI and those who were at risk of having any kind of food addiction were most likely to have difficulty controlling themselves around a particular food item.

The researchers assessed food addiction risk using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which was developed by the study’s lead author, Ashley N. Gearhardt. (You can test your risk of having a food addiction by taking a short version of this survey.)

Although not all foods have the potential to be addictive, “it is critical to understand which ones do,” said Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at Wesleyan University, who was not involved in the current study.

“We are all pressed for time, and food is becoming more and more available,” but we need to think about what we are grabbing on the go, Robinson said. Although a handful of almonds and a milkshake might have the same number of calories, they will have a different effects on your brain and your reward system, and you will be much more likely to go back to get more of the milkshake, he added.

Many of the symptoms of food addiction look like drug addiction, including that people need more and more of the food item to get the same effect. They also accept negative consequences to obtain it and feel the anxiety or agitation of withdrawal when they can’t have it. Although food withdrawal is not as intense as heroin withdrawal, neither is cocaine withdrawal. “It varies by the drug,” Robinson said.

Just like any addiction, the first step to recovery is to acknowledge there is a problem, Robinson said. “I think in the majority of cases when we have a problem with a substance, whether it’s a food or drug…we will ignore it,” he said.

Robinson suggests avoiding foods if you have trouble controlling how much of them you eat. “We are not in a situation where we will have dietary deficiencies (and) whenever possible we should be aiming to cook foods for ourselves,” he said.

source: www.cnn.com


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What is The Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index is an indication of how quickly a specified amount of food will cause a rise in blood sugar level. The amount of food is the portion that contains 50 grams of carbohydrate (200 calories from carbs). So it is really an indication of how one carb compares to another.

Certain foods cause a spike, or rapid rise, in blood sugar level. This spike causes an insulin response and may over time lead to health problems such as diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and other issues. Maintaining a more even blood sugar level appears to be beneficial in many ways.

Only foods that contain carbs cause this spike, proteins and fats do not. They provide calories but do not cause an immediate rise in blood sugar levels. Meat and eggs contain no carbs at all, they can be considered to have a zero glycemic index. However this is not strictly true as the test cannot be carried out on them: no amount of eggs will give the required 50 gm of carbs.

The test is carried out on volunteers who have been fasting for a period of time. They are fed a portion of food containing 50 gm of carbohydrate and their blood sugar level monitored over a 2 hour period. This data is drawn on a graph and the area under the curve measured, the larger the area, the higher the glycemic index (GI). Glucose is used as the standard with a value of 100 and all other foods are compared to this.

Many factors influence the GI for foods. The index of the carbs available, the amount of non carb food in the serving, and the amount of fiber and ash (yes ash!) present. Protein and fat in the food will tend to lower the GI because they reduce the body’s ability to digest the carb quickly. Soluble fibre (inulin) has the same effect, insoluble fibre (bran) does so to a lesser extent.

The irony here is that a serving with more calories can have a lower GI, but exactly the same type and amount of carbs. This also shows the danger of consuming significant amounts of refined carbs (even fruit juices) on their own as they can produce a rapid blood sugar spike. Again balance is best in all things.

One might assume because of this that the answer is to avoid all carbs, and certain diets (Atkins for example) do go in this direction. However the body needs a good balance of protein, fat and carbs for health. So the answer appears to be the correct choice and amount of carbs. The Glycemic index and the Glycemic Load are useful tools in the achievement of this end.

Glycemic Load

The glycemic load (GL) is the glycemic index multiplied by the amount of carbs in the serving. So in a way it represents the actual effect the serving of food will have on blood sugar level.

The Glycemic Index on it’s own can be a little misleading because portion sizes are not taken into account. Foods that contain low quantities of carbs can still score highly because large amounts are required for the test.

To produce the required 50 grams of carbs about 12 carrots are necessary but only 3 slices of bread. So the GI for carrots is almost 50, for bread it is 70, not a huge difference. In reality nobody eats 12 carrots at a sitting.

This is where the glycemic load comes in. The GI for carrots is 50, the amount of carbs per serving is 4. So the GL is 2 (50 by 4 divided by 100). The glycemic load for a serving of bread is 10. This is a much more realistic indication of the effect carrots and bread have on blood sugar levels.

Rating System for Glycemic Index:
Below 55 – low GI.
56 to 69 – medium GI.
Above 70 -high GI.

Rating System for Glycemic Load:
Below 11 – low GL.
11 to 19 – medium GL.
Above 19 -high GL.

For sweeteners the glycemic index is useful as in most cases they consist of pure carbohydrate. Thus the GI offers a fair comparison between them. Natural sweeteners can contain soluble fiber and other substances that tend to slow metabolism and reduce the effect of blood sugar.

Glycemic Index for Sweeteners

The glycemic index for sweeteners is a function of three things:

1. The amount of carbohydrate present.
2. The type of carbohydrate present.
3. The presence of other substances (soluble fiber for example) that slow metabolism of carbohydrates.

Glucose has a glycemic index (GI) of 100 and fructose is 25. Sucrose (Ordinary sugar) which is made up of a combination of these two has a GI of 65.

The search for a low GI natural sugar based sweetener is somewhat futile as they all contain combinations of the above, or similar sugars.

 sugar
Sweetener
Type
Glycemic Index
Maltodextrin Sugar 110
Maltose Sugar 105
Dextrose Sugar 100
Glucose Sugar 100
Splenda Artificial Sweetener 80
Trehalose Sugar 70
HFCS-42 Modified Sugar 68
Sucrose Sugar 65
Caramel Modified Sugar 60
Golden Syrup Modified Sugar 60
Inverted Sugar Modified Sugar 60
Refiners Syrup Modified Sugar 60
HFCS-55 Modified Sugar 58
Blackstrap Molasses Sugar Extract 55
Maple Syrup Natural Sugar 54
Honey Natural Sugar 50
Sorghum Syrup Natural Sugar 50
Lactose Sugar 45
Cane Juice Sugar Extract 43
Barley Malt Syrup Modified Sugar 42
HSH Sugar Alcohol 35
Coconut Palm Sugar Natural Sugar 35
Maltitol Sugar Alcohol 35
HFCS-90 Modified Sugar 31
Brown Rice Syrup Modified Sugar 25
Fructose Sugar 25
Galactose Sugar 25
Agave Syrup Modified Sugar 15
Xylitol Sugar Alcohol 12
Glycerol Sugar Alcohol 5
Sorbitol Sugar Alcohol 4
Lactitol Sugar Alcohol 3
Isomalt Sugar Alcohol 2
Mannitol Sugar Alcohol 2
Erythritol Sugar Alcohol 1
Yacon Syrup Natural Sweetener 1
Oligofructose Sugar Fiber 1
Inulin Sugar Fiber 1
Brazzein Natural Sweetener 0
Curculin Natural Sweetener 0
Glycyrrhizin Natural Sweetener 0
Luo Han Guo Natural Sweetener 0
Miraculin Natural Sweetener 0
Monellin Natural Sweetener 0
Pentadin Natural Sweetener 0
Stevia Natural Sweetener 0
Thaumatin Natural Sweetener 0
Acesulfame K Artificial Sweetener 0
Alitame Artificial Sweetener 0
Aspartame Artificial Sweetener 0
Cyclamate Artificial Sweetener 0
Neotame Artificial Sweetener 0
Saccharin Artificial Sweetener 0
Sucralose Artificial Sweetener 0

Although fructose has a fairly low GI, it has other harmful effects and must be considered unsafe to take in large quantities. Agave Syrup has a low GI because it is mainly fructose. Agave has been delisted and banned by the Glycemic Research Institute of Washington DC because serious side effects were observed in clinical trials.

Coconut Palm Sugar contains mainly sucrose and one would expect a GI of about 65. However it scores well in the glycemic index for sweeteners list. Tests have indicated a GI of only about 35. This may be partly because of other substances in it such as soluble fiber. However, the testing was very limited. More testing may well produce a higher GI.

Yacon Syrup, scores best in the Glycemic Index for Sweeteners that are sugar based. It derives it’s sweetness from Fructo-oligosaccharides, a type of sugar with a very low GI. It is probably the only truly raw, organic, natural, low calorie, and low glycemic sweetener available.

Sugar alcohols tend to have very low GIs. In particular Erythritol has a GI of only 1, and it is a safe low calorie sweetener that occurs naturally in some fruits and mushrooms. While many of the other sugar alcohols also have low GIs they can have side effects such as abdominal cramping if taken in even moderate quantities.

Both the natural zero calorie sweeteners such as Stevia, and the artificial ones such as Saccharin have no glycemic index. They do not raise blood sugar at all. This brings up another issue: The human body is programmed to react to the taste of sweet things.

Studies have shown that insulin is secreted by the pancreas soon after the sweet taste is experienced on the tongue, whether the substance contains calories or not. The body is fooled by the zero calorie sweetener. It expects glucose to hit the bloodstream and it gets none. This may result in increased appetite soon after.

Some studies have indicated that zero calorie sweeteners do not help reduce weight, and this may explain the reason. However this does not take into account several useful aspects of zero calorie sweeteners:

1. They do not cause a blood sugar spike and this alone is beneficial to health.
2. They are suitable for diabetics who would otherwise have a limited choice of sweet things.
3. They are harmless to teeth.
4. All things being equal they contain no calories and should be of assistance in a diet plan.

Perhaps the best use of zero calorie sweeteners would be to reduce the sugars in food and beverages, not eliminate them. Say a person drinks a bottle of cola each day. This contains about 12.5 spoons of sugar and 200 calories. If they drank a reduced sugar cola made with half stevia or saccharin they would halve the amount of sugar, yet still receive a glucose boost. Indeed the lowering of the sugar intensity could provide a more steady supply of glucose to the bloodstream and dramatically reduce or eliminate the insulin load.