Breaking Down Quinoa Part II – The Goodness of Iron

As we near the end of June, we are finishing our quinoa planting, and are keeping our fingers crossed for ideal weather conditions for all of the farmers out there! We are working with a number of producers across Ontario to increase our acreage for quinoa this year. We were overwhelmed at the interest we received over the past eight months, and are constantly looking to establish new partnerships with growers. If you are interested in trying to grow quinoa with us, please e-mail service@katan.ca.

As we shared with you in our last post, preliminary nutrient analyses on our local Ontario Quinta Quinoa showed higher zinc content when compared to commercially available quinoa imported from Peru and Bolivia. The same holds true for another key nutrient, iron.

Iron is a necessary component of two major proteins in our body, hemoglobin and myoglobin. In hemoglobin, iron helps transfer oxygen from our lungs to our tissue, while in myoglobin the transfer of oxygen is to our muscles to help support metabolism. Because iron is an essential mineral, other functions include growth, development, cellular function, and some synthesis of hormones and connective tissue.

Because women are susceptible to greater losses of iron through monthly menstruation, recommended daily intakes vary greatly between men and women of different ages. Iron is also required in higher doses during pregnancy and lactation. For adults aged 18-50, daily iron requirements range from 8-18mg (27mg for pregnant females), so the best way to figure out what your body needs is to consult a Recommended Dietary Allowance Tableor talk to your local health care provider.

It’s important to be aware of the amount and availability of iron in vitamins and supplements. Many iron supplements deliver % Daily Values of iron far greater than what is required, which can lead to gastrointestinal side effects. If you are a healthy adult, meeting your daily requirements for iron through food (like quinoa!) is the best way to ensure your body is getting what it needs!

Imported quinoa, mainly from Peru and Bolivia, on average contains 20-30 ug/g of iron (See graph below). At Katan Kitchens, we’ve been growing and researching quinoa in Ontario for the past four years, and through preliminary nutrient analyses of our crop, have discovered quinoa grown in Ontario has a more complete nutrient profile than quinoa grown in South America. This is especially so with iron where our Quinta Quinoa grown across Ontario is up to four and a half times higher in iron (140 ug/g)!

We are loving the fact that we are developing a variety of quinoa that grows well in Ontario and makes quinoa even more of a superfood than we first thought! We believe the higher mineral content is due to a combination of our climate, the amazing nutrient-rich Ontario soils, as well as the unique, non-GMO, natural-breeded variety of quinoa seed we are growing.

Well now we’ve seen that Ontario-grown Quinta Quinoa provides superior amounts of zinc AND iron compared to commercially available imported quinoa. But there’s still more to discuss. Next we’ll talk about a not so commonly known nutrient… Copper.

 Sources:

http://www.fao.org/quinoa-2013/what-is-quinoa/nutritional-value/en/
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/
http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/06732.pdf
http://www.wiley.com/college/pratt/0471393878/instructor/structure/myoglobin_hemoglobin/index.html
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/nutrition/cons/dv-vq/index-eng.php