Is Quinoa healthy for dogs?
Quinoa was known by the Incas as Chisiya (“Mother Grain”) and was considered sacred.
One of the best complete protein foods available, Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a 7,000-year-old plant that originated in the mountainous regions of South America. While it is commonly known as an “ancient grain,” quinoa is technically not a grain or cereal grain, but a seed, and does not contain gluten.
It’s somewhat rare for a plant food to have the complete profile of all 20 amino acids, including the 10 essential acids our dog’s bodies do not produce and so must be provided in their diet. Quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol. These are potent plant antioxidants with numerous health benefits. The quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than in other high-quercetin foods like cranberries.
It may improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and even aid weight loss.
A food so healthy that NASA hopes we’ll grow it on interplanetary space flights and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization hails it as “the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins and contains no gluten”. And “a crop with high potential to contribute to food security in various Regions worldwide”.
Quinoa is a sustainable food, with a carbon and water footprint between 30 and 60 times lower than beef.
11 Science Informed Reasons to Include Quinoa in Your Dog’s Diet:
- Very Nutritious – the United Nations (UN) declared 2013 “The International Year of Quinoa,” due to its high nutrient value and potential to contribute to food security worldwide. (4)
- Contains the Plant Compounds Quercetin and Kaempferol – Quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol. These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies. Quinoa contains more Quercetin than Cranberries. (5, 6,7, 8, 9, 10).
- Very High in Fibre, Much Higher Than Most Grains – one study found 17–27 grams of fibre per cup (185 grams). Most of the fibre is insoluble, but one cup of quinoa still contains 2.5 grams of insoluble fibre.
- Gluten-Free – naturally gluten-free. Using it instead of typical gluten-free ingredients can increase the antioxidant and nutrient value of your diet when you’re avoiding gluten. (16, 17)
- Very High in Protein with All the Essential Amino Acids – Quinoa is high in protein compared to most plant foods. It also contains all the essential amino acids that you need, making it an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans. (18)
- Has a Low Glycaemic Index which is Good for Blood Sugar Control – eating foods that are high on the glycaemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity linked to many of the common, chronic, diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (19, 20, 21, 22)
- High in Important Minerals Like Iron, Potassium, Zinc and Magnesium – these minerals are essential for your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
- Has Beneficial Effects on Metabolic Health – studies show that quinoa can improve metabolic health, by reducing blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels. However, more research is needed. (26, 27)
- Very High in Antioxidants – Quinoa is very high in antioxidants, which are substances that neutralize free radicals and are believed to help fight ageing and many diseases. (28)
- May Help Your Dog Maintain or Lose Weight – Quinoa is high in fibre, protein and has a low glycaemic index. These properties have all been linked to weight loss and improved health. (30, 31, 32)
- Sustainable Food – carbon and water food print 30 – 60 times lower than beef. (33)