The Magical Seed: Quinoa and it's Benefits for Hair

The Magical Seed: Quinoa and it's Benefits for Hair

Who doesn't want their hair to be rich, smooth, and healthy? For many people, having thick, beautiful hair that shines brightly is still a dream. However, nowadays, people are more concerned with the colour and style of their hair than with the health of their hair. And it's because of this that their hair becomes fragile, thin, and dry as a result of their regular use of styling equipment and hazardous colourants. Instead of going for these costly hair treatments one must focus more on the nourishment of hair with respect to nutrition that can improve the health of hair to a larger extent as compared to heat styling treatments.

And when we talk about nutrition we often think of something that is nutritious and can provide most of the nutrients to our body. One such example is Quinoa. When cooked, this pseudo-cereal, which is mostly white in colour, becomes fluffy and nutty. Quinoa, whether white, red, or black, has unquestionably established itself as a must-have ingredient in Indian dishes and in our kitchens, because of its high protein, dietary fibre, and mineral content, as well as B vitamins. 

Quinoa is a plant that belongs to the amaranth family. It's a seed-bearing plant that's planted for its tasty seeds. So, when we talk about the benefits of quinoa, we always talk about the seeds. Because it’s the seeds that we consume when it comes to quinoa. 

Quinoa is a seed that’s gluten free which makes it a boon for people suffering from gluten sensitivity. The pseudo cereal is similar to wheat and rice in composition and is consumed in the same way like other grains. It can also be ground into flour like wheat.

Nutritional value of quinoa

Quinoa, a pseudo cereal, is a source of all the nine essential amino acids. The seeds are highly nutritious. Fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and other minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus are abundant in the seeds. They also include two essential plant chemicals, quercetin and kaempferol. Quinoa's high iron and magnesium content can have a positive impact on a person's metabolic health. Antioxidants are abundant in the seeds, preventing oxidative damage.

The seeds are gluten free and have a low glycemic index which makes it an ideal food for the diabetics. The seeds take more time to digest which releases the glucose in the body slowly and thus a rapid increase in blood glucose levels is prevented.

Quinoa is richer in lysine (which encourages hair development) than wheat, and is comparable to buckwheat and amaranth. Quinoa seeds contain a balanced amino acid profile that is beneficial to both animal and human nutrition. Quinoa also has a lower salt content and more minerals than barley, corn, or wheat. Minerals and amino acids have been shown to help with hair and skin conditioning. Quinoa flour is used in baked goods and processed foods as a starch extender in combination with maize meal, cereals, and wheat flour. This versatile plant is also used to make cereal products, soups, and alcohol.

Benefits of Quinoa for Hair

Quinoa promotes hair health in the same way it promotes skin health. Quinoa's protein feeds and protects hair follicles from its roots. Indeed, the hydrolyzed protein derived from this whole grain is used in a variety of hair products. Quinoa has a lot of minerals and amino acids, which help to nourish your hair and skin.

  • Promotes hair growth

Quinoa is high in 9 important amino acids, which help to naturally build hair follicles and restore hair by nourishing and moisturising the scalp. According to studies, humectant, a natural chemical, forms a protective layer on the scalp against pollutants and dust. It’s rich in protein and thus acts as a building block for the development of hair.

  • Treats Dandruff

Quinoa is high in minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphorus, which help to seal moisture in the scalp and prevent dandruff. Quinoa's protein also aids in the treatment of split ends. Quinoa also contains tyrosine, which helps to keep your hair's original colour. You can also mash  quinoa and apply the paste on your hair and scalp. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing as usual. This can be done to treat your hair with dandruff problems.

  • Strengthens hair follicles

We must consider the protein composition of quinoa in this case. Quinoa hydrolyzed protein functions as a natural and mild coating that protects and nourishes hair follicles from the inside out. High-quality hair products are made with the protein derived from this grain. Quinoa's nine essential amino acids work as natural strengtheners and conditioners for the hair shaft. They also repair damaged hair and promote hair growth.

  • Conditions your hair

Quinoa proteins are essential for hair washing and nourishment. Quinoa's amino acids condition and protect your hair from breakage. Quinoa hydrolysate creates a protective layer around the hair shaft while also promoting lustre. Quinoa also collects moisture from the air and hydrates your hair, giving it a well-defined curl pattern and a bouncy appearance.

  • Detangles frizzy hair

Quinoa softens, glosses, and volumizes dry, frizzy hair. Quinoa's vitamin E regulates your hair's natural oil production, leaving it silky smooth and simple to brush. It also conditions the hair which makes hair less prone to frizziness and thus protects it from the environmental damage.

  • Prevents split ends

Split ends can make your hair appear even drier. Quinoa is also excellent for sealing broken ends in your hair. Quinoa proteins reach the hair cortex and promote elasticity and porosity by passing through the cuticle and penetrating the cortex. This aids in the removal of split ends. With this it also protects the hair from breakage.

  • Protects hair from pollution

Quinoa also includes humectants, which help to nourish and hydrate the scalp. Quinoa's humectants build an invisible film over the hair, protecting it from many environmental circumstances that can damage it, such as pollution. Thus quinoa serves as a super food which not only improves the body’s health but also promotes the growth of hair.

How To Use Quinoa for Hair

Quinoa is a readily available source of vegetable protein that gently cleanses and nourishes your hair. Its amino acids aid in the recovery of hair shaft damage, while its proteins cover, fortify, and protect the hair. Quinoa, which is high in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, can help hair grow while reducing breakage. This healthy plant is being used in a lot of new shampoos and conditioners. Look for quinoa protein that has been hydrolyzed.This mixture is thought to create a protective barrier around the hair shaft while also promoting lustre. Its humectants draw water from the air while also hydrating your hair, resulting in a defined curl pattern and a seductive head of hair.

How To Include Quinoa for Hair

Quinoa is a versatile grain that may be used in a variety of dishes, from breakfast to dinner. Quinoa has a nutty, earthy taste to it. It goes well with savoury dishes like soups and curry. It gets fairly fluffy and chewy after cooking and has a really lovely flavour. The fluffiest quinoas are milky white or light yellow, whereas the red and black quinoas are more compressed.

Quinoa has a thick outer covering that needs to be peeled off before eating. The seeds are protected from flies by this covering. The bitter, soap-like flavour of the outer layer can produce severe stomach pain, gas, and laxative diarrhoea if ingested. Soak quinoa for 2 hours before cooking after carefully washing it. Then change the water and soak it again before rinsing it. It should be washed several times until the foam is totally gone. Agricultural residue, phenolics, and bitterness will be removed through this process.

Quinoa can be prepared in the same way as other common grains such as buckwheat, rice, and barley. In most of the regions, its seeds are used to make porridge, soup, and stew, as well as flour for bread, alcohol, noodles, flakes, cookies, biscuits, pasta, cakes, buns, and even cold drinks. To boost the protein content of a meal, combine quinoa flour with wheat, oats, and maize flour. Quinoa is ideal for salads because of its grassy flavour and texture, which complements lettuces and other leafy greens. Quinoa can be used to lend a unique flavour to baked items such as muffins and pancakes.

To make the healthiest quinoa, combine one part grain with two parts water and cook for 20 minutes. The white germ partially detaches from the grains, making them transparent. Quinoa can also be roasted before cooking to improve the taste and give it a crunchier texture. Place the beans in a frying pan and roast for 5 min on low to moderate heat, stirring regularly.

Try this healthy quinoa recipe: Quinoa Upma

Steps to make:

  • Take 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine strainer and rinse very well in running water. Keep aside.
  • Heat 1.5 tbsp oil in a pan. Add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds.
  • Once the mustard seeds begin crackling, then add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp urad dal and 1/2 tsp moong dal or chana dal.
  • Stir and saute on a low flame.
  • Saute till the urad dal and moong dal turn golden.
  • Then add 1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger, 1 tsp chopped green chilies, chopped, 1 dry red chili and a pinch of asafoetida (optional). Saute for about half a minute. For a gluten-free upma, skip asafoetida or use gluten-free asafoetida. 
  • Next add 1/3 cup finely chopped onions and 5 to 6 curry leaves.
  • Stir and saute on a low to medium flame. Saute till the onions become brown.
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrots, 1/4 cup finely cut french beans, and 1/3 cup frozen peas, fresh peas are then added. You can use any vegetables you like. To ensure that they are cooked by the time the quinoa is ready, cut them finely. If you're going to use fresh peas, steam or boil them separately. Once the upma is finished, add them.
  • Mix well and saute for 2 mins and then add quinoa. Mix again properly.
  • Then add water. For 1/2 cup of quinoa, 1 cup of water can be added. And put on the lid.
  • Add salt as per taste. When all the water has been absorbed and the grains appear translucent and cooked well, remove the lid and switch off the flame. It will take about 20 to 22 minutes for the quinoa to cook.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

So try this healthy grain once and if you like it then make this magical grain a part of your healthy recipes as it offers multiple benefits for hair.

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A post-graduate in Food Science and Nutrition, Yaman Sharma is our nutrition whisperer! He also believes ‘motility (exercise) is magic’. His specialization is to help you heal with food.

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