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Quinoa: 5 reasons this ancient grain is the official superfood of the year

quinoaLast year, the United Nations officially dubbed 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. (Has the Secretary-General been reading Well+Good?!)

So, we thought it was the perfect time to pay tribute to this most-super of all superfoods by revisiting its many incredible benefits.

And, to encourage you to step up to the stove, we’ve created 10 Creative Quinoa Recipes from Healthy Celebrity Chefs, a free cookbook you can download here!

Here are five reasons this ancient grain is the official superfood of the year:

1. Quinoa fuels your workouts (and work schedule). Cooked quinoa contains approximately eight grams of protein per cup, according to the USDA nutrient database. It’s also one of the few vegetarian “complete” proteins, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs. So it will give you energy for heavy weight lifting and long meetings.

2. It promotes healthy digestion. A cup of quinoa contains a healthy serving of fiber (5 grams), and adequate levels of fiber in your diet contribute to better digestion, lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

3. It’s nature’s multivitamin. Nutrient-dense is an understatement: Quinoa’s an amazing source of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, folate (a B vitamin), and more. You may not be able to ditch your supplements altogether, but it will certainly help tick off a few boxes.

4. It’s a good carbohydrate. Because of quinoa’s high levels of protein and fiber, it’s better for you than other grains that more quickly convert to sugar in your body. It’s also naturally low in calories (222 per cup).

5. It’s versatile and delicious. You may think that all quinoa is good for is salads (it is!), but it’s really a grain of many hats. Try it in a Coconut Curry Bowl, shape it into a veggie burger, roll it in sushi, or eat it for breakfast as a porridge or with yogurt. That’s how tons of healthy celebrity chefs are serving it at their restaurants, as we mentioned: Get their creative recipes here!