Kaniwa: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Kaniwa may well be the next superfood to hit the headlines. Botanically known as (Chenopodium pallidicaule), this South American seed is loaded with high-quality protein, flavonoids, and a whole range of vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa vs Kaniwa
Chances are you've already heard of quinoa, the darling of superfood fans. Kaniwa (sometimes spelled canihua) is closely related to quinoa, and it has a nutty flavor similar to quinoa. Both are also native to the Andes Mountains in South America. Also in terms of nutritional value and health benefits, kaniwa resembles quinoa. However, as the rest of this article shows, there are also some interesting differences between kaniwa and quinoa in terms of nutrient composition.
Tip: If have trouble finding kaniwa in the shops in your area, check out our tips on where to buy quinoa and kaniwa online.
Treasure Trove of Flavonoids
Flavonoids are among the most intensively-studied antioxidants, and kaniwa has been shown to contain exceptionally high levels of flavonoids, particularly isorhamnetin and quercetin. In fact, kaniwa has been shown to contain even more flavonoids than quinoa, its close relative.
In addition to providing anti-aging benefits for the skin, flavonoids may help prevent cardiovascular diseases, inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and viruses, and reduce the risk of certain inflammatory diseases.
Nutrient-Rich, Gluten-Free Substitute for Wheat
Whole-grain wheat is an excellent source of B vitamins and essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, phosphorus and manganese. But wheat also contains gluten, a protein composite that can cause gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and flatulence in certain people. Also many other common grains, such as barley and rye, contain gluten.
Kaniwa, like its cousin quinoa, is naturally gluten-free; yet, it is supercharged with B vitamins and a wide range of minerals, including calcium, iron and phosphorus, as shown in the Nutrition Facts for Kaniwa table below. Provided that you use kaniwa that has not been cross-contaminated with wheat or other gluten-containing grains, you can safely use kaniwa as a substitute for gluten-containing grains.
Nutrition Facts for Kaniwa Seeds
As kaniwa is still a relatively unknown food, studies investigating its nutritional value are limited. As a result, kaniwa nutrition facts are only available for certain nutrients. The following table provides information about the approximate nutrient composition of kaniwa, both in terms of absolute amounts (in grams or milligrams) and as Percent Daily Values (in brackets). The values are based on a 100-gram (3.5 oz) portion of kaniwa seeds.
- Protein: 15.4 g (31%)
- Crude fat:6.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 61 g (20%)
- Crude fiber: 7.7 g (31%)
- Thiamin (B1): 0.7 mg (48%)
- Riboflavin (B2): 0.4 mg (25%)
- Niacin (B3): 1.4 mg (7%)
- Calcium: 134 mg (13%)
- Iron: 15 mg (86%)
- Phosphorus: 424 mg (42%)
Source of High-Quality Protein
Many of the famous nutritional and health benefits of quinoa have been attributed to its relatively high protein content. In addition, the protein in quinoa is considered to be of particularly high quality, providing significant amounts of all essential amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins).
As kaniwa is closely related to quinoa, it is not surprising that also kaniwa is loaded with high-quality protein that contains notable amounts of all essential amino acids, including lysine which is usually found only in small amounts in grains. In fact, kaniwa has been shown to contain even more protein than quinoa (around 16% compared with 13% reported for quinoa)!
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2. R. Gross etl al (1989). Chemical composition and protein quality of some local Andean food sources. Food Chem. 34, 25-34.
3. P. White et al (1955). Nutrient content and Protein quality of quinoa and canihua, edible seed products of the Andes mountains. J. Agric. Food Chem. 6, 531-534.
4. R. Repo-Carrasco, C. Espinoza and S. Jacobsen (2003). Nutritional Value and Use of the Andean Crops Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) and Kaniwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule). Food Rev. Int. 19, 179-189.
5. C. Collazos et al (1993). La Composicion de Alimentos de Mayor Consumo en el Peru. Minsterio de Salud. Insituto Nacional de Nutricion. Lima, Peru. / quoted by R. Repo-Carrasco-Valencia (2011)