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We LOVE quinoa. It is even called a “super-food” but even with this sudden love of quinoa in the US, there are still some misnomers and confusion over what exactly it is. We all love that it’s easy to prepare, is delicious, cooks up like rice or couscous, and has some great health benefits, but what exactly is it? Why is it good for our dogs? And why did it make it into Smart Cookie Dog Treats? Well, we wanted to shed some light on this mysterious ingredient and help answer some questions we’ve received from our customers…
What exactly is quinoa? Quinoa is the seed of a species of goosefoot (“Chenopodium quinoa” to be exact). A goosefoot is a type of plant that is aptly named for its leaves that are shaped like the foot of a goose. It is a chenopod, which means it is closely related to beets, chard, and spinach.
Is quinoa a grain? No. Quinoa is actually a seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant. Quinoa is considered a “pseudo-cereal” which is a phrase given to any food that looks and cooks like a grain and has a similar nutrient profile, but a different botanical make-up. Other pseudo-cereals include amaranth and chia. So if your dog is on a grain-free diet, quinoa is OK! (Of course, check with your veterinarian for any specific dietary restrictions).
OK, so what is a grain? Grains are any cereal or cultivated crop used as food – typically from wheat, corn, oats, barley or rice.
Is it pronounced “Keen-oh-ah” or “Keen-wah”? The word “Quinoa” is from Quechua, a native language of South America, primarily spoken in the Andes (particularly Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia). That is where “keen-wah” originates from!
What are the health benefits? The health benefits of quinoa for both dogs and humans are very vast and similar. Quinoa is one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is also gluten free which is great for those with gluten sensitivities, and it’s also very high in fiber, which means you will stay fuller longer, and help balance out blood sugar levels. Quinoa is especially good for active dogs (or active humans for that matter) because it contains lysine, which aids in tissue repair, which is why it is one of the chosen ingredients for our signature Functional Treats, The Sports Dog.
Have more questions about quinoa or any of our other ingredients? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a post on our Facebook page!
References: wholegrainscouncil.org, choosemyplate.gov, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary