The correct answer is…wait for it…KEEN-wah.
But no matter how you’ve been pronouncing the word, I hope you’ve been eating the gluten-free ancient grain, because it comes with a ton of health benefits.
1. Quinoa is packed with protein.
“Incorporating just one cup of quinoa a day into something like a grain bowl with other veggies or adding it to homemade soup will add eight grams of protein,” says nutritionist Maggie Michalczyk, M.S., RD.
2. …And fiber.
You’ll get five grams of the filling nutrient per each one-cup serving. “Most Americans aren’t meeting the daily recommended amount of fiber [that would be 25 to 28 grams per day for an adult woman, according to the Institute of Medicine’s dietary guidelines], so cooking with quinoa is a great way to get more,” says Michalczyk.
That fiber won’t just keep you, uh, regular, either. Since quinoa is low in fat and sugar and contains complex carbs, you’ll feel full without a ton of bloat to weigh you down.
3. Quinoa may help keep you at a healthy weight.
We’ve talked about how that protein plus fiber combo is super-satisfying—especially great if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, says Michalczyk.
Research also backs up a link between quinoa consumption and a lower risk of obesity, FWIW.
4. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, if that’s your thing.
If you have Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance, you don’t have to suffer through pasta envy anymore—quinoa is a legit way to indulge your carb habit (way better than corn or rice flour, which don’t have as much nutritional value, says Michalczyk).
5. …And it totally has you covered in the vitamins and minerals department.
Speaking of vitamins and minerals…quinoa comes with a dose of iron and magnesium. “Magnesium is important for muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as bone health, and iron is extremely important for your red blood cells because it helps to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body,” says Michalczyk.
She recommends soaking quinoa in water before you cook it so your body can absorb even more of these key nutrients.
6. Quinoa may even help regulate your blood-sugar levels.
Good news for your ticker: “Quinoa has a low glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly a food will raise your blood sugar,” says Michalczyk. And regular blood-sugar levels equal a lower risk for scary conditions like heart disease and diabetes, she explains.