Quinoa and the Super Grains

Articles
May 19, 2010

Quinoa and the Super Grains

As a majority of consumers have shifted from white to wheat across various categories, and understand the health benefits of consuming whole grains, it’s time to introduce, promote, and educate shoppers about other nutritious whole grains.

As a majority of consumers have shifted from white to wheat across various categories, and understand the health benefits of consuming whole grains, it’s time to introduce, promote, and educate shoppers about other nutritious whole grains.

Quinoa (keen wa), an ‘ancient grain' happens to be one of the most impressive foods on grocery shelves and yet many consumers and grocers still don't know how super this food really is. Technically speaking, quinoa is not actually a grain, but it is in fact the seed of a dark green leafy plant. Quinoa is commonly referred to as a grain because of its similar texture and versatility. Originally cultivated over 5,000 years ago in the South American Andes and known as “the gold of the Incas” and the “mother of all grains,” quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein as well as a great source of various minerals, and it’s gluten free. To top it all off, preparing quinoa is exactly like preparing rice except it only takes about fifteen minutes!

Quinoa in particular is a very good source of both magnesium and iron. Magnesium is important for muscle relaxation, building and strengthening bones as well as benefiting the circulatory system. Iron plays the essential role of helping to carry oxygen to the heart, lungs and brain as well as throughout the body. Iron plays a large part in keeping our immune system healthy and helps us stay alert and energized. Along with magnesium and iron, quinoa boasts a whole host of other nutrients and bioactive compounds as well as fiber. Quinoa can be used in place of couscous, rice or other grains in recipes, and some CPGs are using quinoa flour to enhance the nutritional profile of various foods, including baked goods and pastas.

There are a handful of other ‘super’ whole grains out there including kamut, millet, buckwheat, and spelt that consumers and grocers alike should take note of. Kamut for example contains up to 40 percent more protein than wheat as well as an impressive amount of magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. Buckwheat, among other things, contains various flavonoids that provide powerful antioxidant protection against free radicals in the body.

There are a lot of exciting new innovations in food, but do remember many consumers are looking for less processed foods, with fewer ingredients and more bang for their buck in terms of nutrition. Direct your customers towards these ‘super grains’ and suggest recipes or recipe substitutions. CPGs should look into incorporating ‘super’ grains (most can be ground and used similarly to flour) to improve the nutritional profile of current SKUs. Consumers will thank you and they may even remember eating some of these grains as a kid - for example, buckwheat or kasha, is a popular breakfast porridge consumed in Russia. Alerting consumers to the various health benefits and hearty nutritional profiles as well as the ease of cooking, can help market these grains and will certainly help bring variety to the American diet!