Boost Your Brain Power With Quinoa

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 No Commented
Categorized Under: Nutrition

Quinoa has been getting a lot of attention lately for its health benefits and not without reason; these tiny seeds from the Chenopodium plant are packed with nutrients. In addition to other health benefits, including quinoa in your regular diet can help you achieve better mental clarity, focus, and function. The following nutrients found in quinoa can improve your mental performance:

Protein

Protein helps you feel full and stabilizes blood sugar levels. When you include protein in your meals, your energy levels are more consistent and you avoid getting a quick burst of energy only to “crash” a short while later. Quinoa’s 8 grams of protein per cup (cooked) is unusually high in protein for a “grain” food. In addition, quinoa includes all the “essential” amino acids in proper proportion to be considered a “complete” protein, which means that it provides all the building blocks our bodies need but aren’t able to produce on their own.

Iron

Iron plays a crucial role in generating energy for the brain’s neurons and is also involved in making neurotransmitters, which transmit messages within the nervous system, and the myelin sheath that insulates the nerves. Iron deficiency has been linked to feelings of fatigue and apathy and can interfere with the proper development of cognitive functions in young children. Quinoa is an excellent source of iron. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 35% of the recommended daily amount.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is crucial for energy production, including the proper metabolism of body fuels such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The brain has high energy demands and a diet rich in riboflavin helps keep the energy flowing and available to the brain. Quinoa is a naturally high source of riboflavin with 1 cup providing 15% of the daily recommended amount.

Copper

Copper plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, and preservation of the myelin sheath surrounding nerves. Quinoa provides a good source of copper.

If you find yourself feeling sluggish during the day or having difficulty concentrating, try including more quinoa in your diet. You can even kick start your day by cooking quinoa for breakfast. Quinoa breakfast porridge is a quick to make (about 15 minutes) and is easy to modify to what you have on hand. Simply add 2 parts liquid (water, milk, juice) to 1 part quinoa and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. You can also add dried or fresh fruit (raisins, currents, cranberries, apples), sweetener (honey or brown sugar), nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds), and other spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger). It is more nutritious than oatmeal and has a slightly more firm and crunchy texture.