Kañiwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule) is a remarkably nutritious grain from the Andean highlands. Its protein content and quality is exceptional and it is also rich in micronutrients such as iron and calcium. It is grown on Andean highland plateaus. For people who live on subsistence agriculture in the altiplano, kañiwa is extremely important as a main source of calories and good quality protein. When all other crops fail, kañiwa still provides food for highland farmers, thus securing their survival.
This small dark nutritious grain is in the same family as Quinoa. Kañiwa has a higher protein content than quinoa (15 to 19 percent compared with quinoa’s 12-18 percent). It is a complete protein, which means it contains the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies cannot synthesize. Unlike Quinoa which contains bitter tasting saponins and has to be washed before cooking, kañiwa can be used directly as a food without washing as its saponin content is very low. Kañiwa is relatively rich in oil containing mainly unsaturated fatty acids.
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