Looking for a food that provides a little extra boost in the fourth quarter? Look no further than the ancient Incas for inspiration.
To the Incas, a South American civilization that thrived from the 13th to the 16th Century, quinoa was such an important crop that it was held sacred. The Incas called it the "mother grain," and they grew it for its edible seeds, which provided warriors with stamina and quick recovery.
The Incas knew that quinoa gave them energy, but they didn't know why. Today, we understand that quinoa provides all the essential nutrients for muscle recovery. One cup of quinoa delivers minerals, fiber, antioxidants, enzymes, all nine essential amino acids and nine grams of protein, making it one of the most complete foods in nature.
One essential amino acid in quinoa that is particularly relevant for athletes is lysine. For off-season athletes working on strength, lysine can help repair and grow muscle tissue faster.
Another quinoa nutrient of great value to athletes is iron. Iron helps the body produce energy and helps the blood deliver oxygen to muscles. It is especially critical for female and endurance athletes. Many female athletes are iron-deficient, which can hinder their athletic performance. For endurance runners, the iron in quinoa can help prevent fading in those last few miles.
Good news for athletes who want to incorporate more quinoa in their diets: the super grain can be included in any meal. For breakfast, sprinkle quinoa on your cereal or cook it with maple syrup and nuts. For lunch, put it in your salad. Have quinoa with your dinner by stuffing it in vegetables or creating a veggie burger.
Add the Incas' mother grain to your diet and unleash the warrior within.
Try quinoa for yourself and post your results to our Facebook wall or tweet us at @STACKMedia.