Quinoa Nutrition and Benefits – What Is Quinoa?
Pronounced KEEN-wah, quinoa is a whole grain that’s slowly built a huge fan base thanks to its gluten-free qualities and high-protein content. Whether you’re looking to switch it up from brown rice or simply catch up on the trend, this easy base belongs in your pantry.
Serving Size: 1 cup (185 g) of cooked quinoa
- 222 calories
- 4g total fat
- 0g saturated fat
- 8g protein
- 39g carbohydrates
- 5g fiber
- 2g sugar
- 31 mg calcium
- 3 mg iron
- 118 mg magnesium
- 281 mg phosphorus
- 318 mg potassium
- 13 mg sodium
Read on for more of your top quinoa questions, answered.
What exactly is quinoa?
Quinoa is defined by the Whole Grains Council as a pseudo-cereal, but it’s been classified as a whole grain. The small seeds are cooked like rice or ground into flour. Produced mainly in South America, quinoa has been grown rapidly in its popularity due to its protein content. It can be found in breakfast cereals, side dishes, pasta, and other recipes.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
There are over 120 varieties of quinoa ranging in color and flavor, but it usually has a slightly nutty taste on its own.
Is quinoa good for you?
Quinoa is a grain rich in protein, fiber, moderate fat, and vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids in the necessary amount. This makes it a great choice for vegetarians, vegans and people trying to eat less meat.
What gives it the nutritional leg-up compared to other grains? It’s higher in B-vitamins than other grain alternatives like barley, rye, rice, and corn. B-vitamins contribute to the metabolic reactions going in your body all the time, converting the food you eat into fuel for energy. Eating quinoa may also help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a 2012 study.
Is quinoa better than rice?
Quinoa, although less popular than rice, can be a more nutrient-dense alternative. For a 100-gram serving, quinoa has double the amount of protein (14 grams versus 7 grams) for approximately the same amount of calories. It also has 2.5 times the amount of fiber than rice: 7 grams versus 3 grams, respectively.
Is it gluten-free?
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, so it’s safe choice for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Plus, it’s higher in folic acid than the refined grains like rice or corn. This crucial vitamin plays a role in neurological function and immunity.
How do you cook quinoa?
Quinoa found on supermarket shelves is usually pre-rinsed (indicated on the packaging), but it’s always a good idea to wash it yourself prior to cooking. This removes a natural pesticide found on the exterior of the kernels known as saponins. Prep as you would rice, using two parts liquid to one part dry quinoa.
Is quinoa the “best” grain?
There are tons of reasons to eat 100% whole grains: They’re fiber-full, more sustainable as a protein source than meat, and full of phytonutrients. That said, if you’re not a quinoa fan, don’t sweat it! Other whole grains like oats, teff, barley, farro, sorghum, amaranth, and buckwheat are also great choices having a major culinary “moment” right now, so you’ve got plenty of goodness to choose from.