Quinoa provides high protein quality and is a good source of essential amino acids including lysine and isoleucine. It provides antioxidant phytonutrients including ferulic, coumaric, hydroxybenzoic, and vanillic acid, and antioxidant flavonoids including quercetin and kaempferol. Quinoa is a good source of nutrients like folate, zinc, and phosphorus, and a very good source of manganese, copper, and dietary fiber.
Most grains are considered to be inadequate sources of total protein sources because they are lacking in amino acids like lysine and isoleucine. Quinoa has significantly greater amounts of both lysine and isoleucine (especially lysine), and these greater amounts of lysine and isoleucine allow the protein in quinoa to serve as a complete protein source. Unlike other grains, quinoa also provides many members of the vitamin E tocopherol family including important amounts of gamma-tocopherol.
Quinoa contains anti-inflammatory polysaccharides, and recent studies are expanding the list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa. The unique combination of anti-inflammatory compounds in quinoa may be the key to understanding preliminary animal studies that show decreased risk of inflammation-related problems (including obesity) when animals are fed quinoa on a daily basis. In comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic acid. Quinoa also provides small amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Recent studies show that quinoa does not get oxidized as rapidly as might be expected given its higher fat content; this finding is great news from a nutritional standpoint. The processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to significantly compromise the quality of quinoa's fatty acids, which means even after cooking quinoa maintains this nutrient benefit.
The diverse nutritional benefits of quinoa make it unique among grain-related foods. The overall high level of nourishment provided by quinoa puts in in a “high health benefit” category.