If you suffer from IBS then you will know that high FODMAP foods can cause or worsen this chronic condition.
So you will want to eat foods that are low FODMAP. But you may have wondered, is quinoa low FODMAP?
We take a look at this ancient grain and find out how it fits into the FODMAP diet.
What Is FODMAP?
FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.
That is quite a mouthful, so we’re grateful that it’s been shortened to FODMAP. But what is FODMAP?
Those very long words actually represent short chain carbohydrates which resist being digested. Instead of passing into the bloodstream they carry on into your intestines.
When they meet gut bacteria they start cooking up a cocktail that produces hydrogen gas.
This gas causes all sorts of digestive symptoms many of which are associated with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
Some of the foods which contain FODMAP are lactose, fructose, fructans, galactans, and polyols.
To be more specific, lactose is a carbohydrate found in dairy products, and fructose is the sugar found in fruits and vegetables.
Fructans are found in grains like barley, spelt, rye and wheat.
Galactans can be found in large amounts in legumes. Polyols are sugar alcohols found in some fruits and vegetables and often used in sweeteners.
What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa is an ancient grain that has been around for thousands of years. It originated in South America, specifically the Andes and was a staple food of the Incas.
It is a complete protein which means that it has the correct balance of all the essential amino acids, something that is unusual in a plant food.
Quinoa also has good levels of fiber, iron and zinc, per serving.
There are three main types of quinoa, white, red and black. However, there are more than 3,000 varieties which are categorized by where they are grown.
This could be salt flats, highlands, subtropical zones, valleys or at sea level.
The dry grains of quinoa are coated in a bitter substance called saponin. This should be thoroughly rinsed off before cooking.
Quinoa & The Low FODMAP Diet
So where does quinoa fit into the FODMAP diet? According to Monash University quinoa is allowed on the low FODMAP diet.
It tested cooked portions of white, red and black quinoa as well as quinoa flour, pasta, flakes and milk.
The quantities tested were one cup for each of the different quinoa products except for the flour of which they tested ⅔ cup.
Monash did note that white quinoa becomes high FODMAP at very high servings, 5 and a half cups to be exact.
However, for regular servings quinoa is still a low FODMAP food.
Any processed quinoa foods such as pasta or milk will need to be examined for ingredients that may be high FODMAP.
Some gluten free foods made with quinoa flour may have fructose or inulin added. Inulin is a type of prebiotic.
Quinoa & IBS
It is estimated that between 10-15% of the world’s population suffers from IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
IBS is a chronic condition with symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, or alternating episodes of them both.
This disorder affects the motility of the large intestine. If it is too fast it causes diarrhea or too slow it causes constipation.
There is also increased sensitivity to pain as well as bowel urgency, bloating and a buildup of gas.
As the symptoms of IBS can be caused or exacerbated by high FODMAP foods, having a low FODMAP diet is recommended to relieve some of the pain and discomfort.
Quinoa has been shown to be a low FODMAP food so by including it in your diet you can relieve some of your IBS symptoms.
Benefits Of Quinoa On The Low FODMAP Diet
The benefits of quinoa are many. It is a complete protein, and it is high in iron and fiber.
Quinoa is also vegan, naturally gluten free and low on the glycemic index.
On a practical level it is very easy to cook and will keep for several days in your refrigerator. With all of these benefits it is a great food to include in your low FODMAP diet.
It has been tested and passed as a low FODMAP food and so can take the place of some foods that are likely to cause you digestive problems.
Examples are pasta, legumes and beans.
You can have quinoa pasta and the quinoa flour can be used in place of wheat flour which is another high FODMAP food.
Quinoa milk can replace normal dairy milk which can trigger IBS symptoms.
Nutrition Benefits Of Quinoa
As well as being high in fiber, quinoa is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.
It provides many vitamins and minerals which are important for a healthy diet.
Quinoa will deliver copper, iron, thiamine, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, lysine, magnesium, and manganese. All of these are essential for a healthy body.
Fiber is a very important nutrient for those following a low FODMAP diet which restricts the kinds of food normally consumed for fiber.
So quinoa is a great addition to the list of low FODMAP foods due to its high fiber content.
How To Cook Quinoa?
Quinoa is very easy to cook. The most important step is rinsing it to get rid of the saponin on the grain’s surface. Saponin has a soapy and bitter taste.
Add quinoa to boiling water at a ratio of 2:1 and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pot. When all the water is absorbed, let it sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
A low FODMAP diet can relieve painful IBS symptoms so having something as healthy as quinoa in this diet is a great bonus.
It’s healthy, tasty and full of nutrients.
We hope that this guide to quinoa and low FODMAP has been helpful to you.