Quinoa: complete your meal

May 3, 2018 6:48 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If you know anything at all about quinoa, you’ll know that it’s renowned for being a ‘complete protein’. As such, it’s often highly recommended for vegetarians and vegans, serving as a full replacement for the nutrients found in meat and fish. It’s also gluten-free, meaning that it’s a great source of protein for coeliacs too: a gluten-free diet, like a vegan diet, can lack protein, if you’re not particularly careful. Quinoa is a great meal choice for everyone, of course: it’s rich in fibre, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, calcium and iron, easy to cook and delicious to eat. It really will ‘complete’ your lunch, dinner or supper!

Quinoa is a complete protein: it works well for everyone.

Quinoa makes your meal complete!                  Image: Vi..Cult…

But what exactly is meant by it being a ‘complete’ protein? We thought we’d take a look.

What’s a complete protein?

Quinoa is the seed of a leafy plant that’s related to spinach. It mainly grows high up in the mountainous areas of South America (though can be grown in other places, too – we stock lots of UK-grown quinoa!). In the rarified mountain air, drawing in pure, fresh water, the plants produce seeds full of health-giving vitamins and minerals, producing a foodstuff that’s considered by nutritionists to be a complete protein.

We stock quinoa from South America and from the UK

Quinoa grows high up in the mountains of South America           Image: Maurice Chédel

Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids. Nine of these twenty cannot be produced by our bodies themselves – we have to take them in through food. They’re known as the ‘essential amino acids’ and we need all of them to stay healthy. Some of the names of these nine may be familiar: tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine + cystine, phenylalanine + tyrosine, valine, histidine.

A ‘complete’ protein contains all nine essential amino acids in roughly equal amounts.

Examples of complete proteins

Meat, eggs and dairy products are complete proteins, which is great news if you’re a meat-eater or vegetarian. Beans are not, however, and neither are nuts or seeds – which, on the face of it, is not so good for vegans. However, it’s important to stress that you can take in the range of amino acids from a variety of sources across the day: you don’t need all nine in each bite of food, or even in each meal you eat. If you have a wide and varied vegan diet, then you should easily cover your amino acid requirements: indeed, a simple meal of rice and beans pretty much covers all the bases.

Of course, though, it makes things even simpler if you can include complete protein sources in your diet. And it’s this that makes quinoa, with its superb amino acid profile, such a great and easy choice.

Click here to see all the quinoa we stock.

Buckwheat and soy, too!

Buckwheat doesn’t have its praises sung quite as often as quinoa, but it too is a complete protein. At Naturally Good Food, we’ve got plenty of buckwheat noodles and other products made from this pseudocereal. Buckwheat groats make a fine porridge, while buckwheat flour is ever-popular for wonderful thick pancakes.

Buckwheat and soy are also complete proteins

Buckwheat is also a complete protein

Soy, too, is a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids. It’s also one of the most versatile foodstuffs we stock. You can see our full range of soy products here.

With Naturally Good Food, it’s certainly possible to be completely happy – and completely healthy – as a vegan!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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