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Quinoa Cheat Sheet - Health Benefits and Fun Facts

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) (pronounced: Keen-Wah) is a small round shaped seed (not grain) which comes in a range of colors from yellow to red. Quinoa is a popular food among vegans as it provides the complete set of essential amino acids.

Quinoa has been popular in South America for over 5000 years but is only now becoming mainstream as people recognize its many health benefits. Quinoa is highly nutritious, gluten free, and has a low glycemic index, making it an ideal staple grain to add to your diet.

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Top 5 Health Benefits of Quinoa

1. Quinoa is Highly Nutritious and a Great Source of Protien

Quinoa is so nutritious it has been equated to the nutrient quality of dried whole milk by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Quinoa is a great source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B9, copper, protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B1 (1). Quinoa is also rich in phytosterols, phenolics, and betalains which are thought to boost metabolism and reduce cancer risk (2).

See the chart below for the top 10 nutrients in quinoa by daily value (%DV).

2. Quinoa Can Lower Triglycerides and LDL Cholesterol

In one study, subjects were given either 25 grams of corn flakes or 25 grams of quinoa flakes for 4 weeks. The group that ate quinoa flakes saw a significant reduction in triglycerides and LDL cholesterol over the corn group. For the quinoa flake group, average LDL cholesterol levels fell from 129mg/dl to 121mg/dl and triglycerides fell from 112mg/dl to 108mg/dl (3).

3. Quinoa has a Low Glycemic Load

Quinoa has a glycemic index less than 55, making it a low glycemic food. Quinoa is also high in fiber. Studies have shown that a low GI high fiber diet can help with weight loss, and the prevention of type II diabetes (4,4).

4. Quinoa is Gluten Free

Unlike wheat and a variety of other foods, quinoa is gluten free. Studies have shown that quinoa is a good source of vitamins and nutrients for patients with Celiac disease (5). For most people eating gluten does not necessarily carry health risks, however, consumption of gluten has increased worldwide, leading to a growing number of wheat allergies and people with Celiac disease. Alternative grains like quinoa provide a good balance to an otherwise gluten-loaded diet.

5. Quinoa is Lower in Phytic Acid than Other Grains

Phytic acid is a so-called anti-nutrient commonly found in grains that can bind to minerals like iron and calcium, preventing their absorption. Quinoa is superior to other grains since it has a much lower phytic acid level with ranges from 10.5 mg to 13.5 mg, in comparison with corn that contains 720 mg, wheat 390 mg, and rice 60 mg of phytic acid (2).

Purple quinoa plant

Quinoa Fun Facts

  1. Quinoa is actually a seed and not a grain, though it is often considered a grain in the culinary sense.
  2. The leaves of the quinoa plant can be eaten, like spinach.
  3. Quinoa means "mother grain" in the Inca language, and has been eaten for 5000 years by the natives who live on the mountain plateaus and in the valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile.
  4. Quinoa gets its curly appearance when cooked since the germ separates from the seed.
  5. Quinoa seeds can be black, red, pink, orange, yellow, or white in color.
  6. When originally grown, quinoa is covered with bitter Saponins. These chemicals evolved naturally in the seeds as protection from birds and insects. Today, most commercial varieties have the saponins already removed, but they can also be removed by soaking the quinoa.
  7. Mixtures of quinoa and fat created snacks called "War Balls" which nourished Incan armies as they marched over the Andies (6).
  8. Ashes of quinoa stems are called "lipta". Lipta is mixed with cocoa leaves by Andean farmers as an energy snack (7).
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How to Buy Quinoa the Ethical Way

With the growing popularity on quinoa, the price has gone up to the point that many of the people in South America who ate it for years, can no longer afford it. Buy quinoa grown either near your home, or away from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. This brand on Amazon is grown in California.

Quinoa can also be found in most supermarkets and health stores. Quinoa purchased outside North America needs to have the saponins removed. Saponins are a natural bitter coating found on quinoa. Soak quinoa for 1-2 hours, then change the water, soak again, and rinse. This process will remove the saponins, and their bitterness.

How do I cook Quinoa?

Quinoa can be cooked in much the same way as rice, or even in a rice cooker. Just add 2 parts water for every part quinoa. Be sure to wash and rinse any quinoa you buy, no matter the original or claims otherwise on the packaging. For more information, see our step by step guide on how to cook quinoa with photos.

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Click each heading below for more information from HealthAliciousNess.com

Quinoa has a nutty flavor and creamy texture that is best paired with a stew or spicy dish.

Quinoa Cooked1 Cup200 Calories100 Grams
Serving Size (Grams)185g167g100g
Macronutrients
Calories222200120
Fat (%DV)3.55g
(5%)
3.21g
(5%)
1.92g
(3%)
Saturated Fat (%DV)0.427g
(2%)
0.386g
(2%)
0.231g
(1%)
Cholesterol (%DV)0mg
(0%)
0mg
(0%)
0mg
(0%)
Carbs (%DV)39.4g
(13%)
35.6g
(12%)
21.3g
(7%)
Fiber (%DV)5.2g
(21%)
4.7g
(19%)
2.8g
(11%)
Net-Carbs34.2g30.9g18.5g
Sugar1.6g1.5g0.9g
Protein8.1g7.3g4.4g
Vitamins
Vitamin A (%DV)9.25IU
(0%)
8.35IU
(0%)
5IU
(0%)
Retinol Equiv.0μg0μg0μg
Retinol0μg0μg0μg
Alpha-Carotene0μg0μg0μg
Beta-Carotene5.55μg5.01μg3μg
Beta-cryptoxanthin0μg0μg0μg
Vitamin B1 (%DV)
Thiamin
0.198mg
(13%)
0.179mg
(12%)
0.107mg
(7%)
Vitamin B2 (%DV)
Riboflavin
0.204mg
(12%)
0.184mg
(11%)
0.11mg
(6%)
Vitamin B3 (%DV)
Niacin
0.762mg
(4%)
0.688mg
(3%)
0.412mg
(2%)
Vitamin B5 (%DV)
Pantothenic Acid
~mg
(0%)
~mg
(0%)
~mg
(0%)
Vitamin B6 (%DV)0.228mg
(11%)
0.205mg
(10%)
0.123mg
(6%)
Vitamin B9 (%DV)
Folate
77.7μg
(19%)
70.14μg
(18%)
42μg
(11%)
Folic Acid0μg0μg0μg
Food Folate77.7μg70.14μg42μg
Dietary Folate Equivalents77.7μg70.14μg42μg
Vitamin B12 (%DV)
Cobalamin
0μg
(0%)
0μg
(0%)
0μg
(0%)
Vitamin C (%DV)0mg
(0%)
0mg
(0%)
0mg
(0%)
Vitamin D (%DV)0IU
0μg
(0%)
0IU
0μg
(0%)
0IU
0μg
(0%)
Vitamin D2 (%DV)
Ergocalciferol
~IU
~μg
~IU
~μg
~IU
~μg
Vitamin D3 (%DV)
Cholecalciferol
~IU
~μg
~IU
~μg
~IU
~μg
Vitamin E (%DV)1.17mg
(6%)
1.05mg
(5%)
0.63mg
(3%)
Vitamin K (%DV)0μg
(0%)
0μg
(0%)
0μg
(0%)
K1 - Dihydrophylloquinone~μg~μg~μg
K2 - Menaquinone-4~μg~μg~μg
Choline
(% Adequate Intake)
42.55mg
(8%)
38.41mg
(7%)
23mg
(4%)
Lycopene0μg0μg0μg
Lutein+Zeaxanthin98.05μg88.51μg53μg
Minerals
Calcium (%DV)31.45mg
(3%)
28.39mg
(3%)
17mg
(2%)
Copper (%DV)0.355mg
(18%)
0.321mg
(16%)
0.192mg
(10%)
Iron (%DV)2.76mg
(15%)
2.49mg
(14%)
1.49mg
(8%)
Potassium (%DV)318.2mg
(9%)
287.24mg
(8%)
172mg
(5%)
Phosphorus (%DV)281.2mg
(28%)
253.84mg
(25%)
152mg
(15%)
Magnesium (%DV)118.4mg
(30%)
106.88mg
(27%)
64mg
(16%)
Manganese (%DV)1.167mg
(58%)
1.054mg
(53%)
0.631mg
(32%)
Sodium (%DV)13mg
(1%)
12mg
(1%)
7mg
(0%)
Selenium (%DV)5.18μg
(7%)
4.68μg
(7%)
2.8μg
(4%)
Zinc (%DV)2.02mg
(13%)
1.82mg
(12%)
1.09mg
(7%)
Carbs and Sugars
Starch32.62g29.44g17.63g
Sucrose~g~g~g
Glucose~g~g~g
Fructose~g~g~g
Lactose~g~g~g
Maltose~g~g~g
Galactose~g~g~g
Fatty Acids
Omega 3 to Omega 6 Ratio0.020.020.02
Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio64.9364.9364.93
Total Omega 3s28mg25mg15mg
18D3 Linolenic157mg142mg85mg
18D3CN3 Alpha Linolenic(ALA)~mg~mg~mg
18D4 Stearidonic (SDA)0mg0mg0mg
20D3N3 Eicosatrienoic~mg~mg~mg
20D5 Eicosapentaenoic(EPA)0mg0mg0mg
22D5 Docosapentaenoic(DPA)0mg0mg0mg
22D6 Docosahexaenoic(DHA)28mg25mg15mg
Total Omega 6s1802mg1627mg974mg
18D21802mg1627mg974mg
18D2CN6 Linoleic(LA)~mg~mg~mg
18D2CLA Conjugated Linoleic(CLA)~mg~mg~mg
18D3CN6 Gamma-linolenic (GLA)~mg~mg~mg
20D2CN6 Eicosadienoic~mg~mg~mg
20D3N6 Di-homo-
gamma-linolenic (DGLA)
~mg~mg~mg
20D4N6 Arachidonic (AA)~mg~mg~mg
22D4 Adrenic (AA)~mg~mg~mg
Essential Amino Acids
Histidine
(%RDI)
235mg
(34%)
212mg
(30%)
127mg
(18%)
Isoleucine
(%RDI)
290mg
(21%)
262mg
(19%)
157mg
(11%)
Leucine
(%RDI)
483mg
(18%)
436mg
(16%)
261mg
(10%)
Lysine
(%RDI)
442mg
(21%)
399mg
(19%)
239mg
(11%)
Methionine
(%RDI)
178mg
(24%)
160mg
(22%)
96mg
(13%)
Phenylalanine
(%RDI)
342mg
(39%)
309mg
(35%)
185mg
(21%)
Threonine
(%RDI)
242mg
(23%)
219mg
(21%)
131mg
(12%)
Tryptophan
(%RDI)
96mg
(34%)
87mg
(31%)
52mg
(19%)
Valine
(%RDI)
342mg
(19%)
309mg
(17%)
185mg
(10%)
More Amino Acids
Arginine629mg568mg340mg
Alanine339mg306mg183mg
Aspartic Acid653mg590mg353mg
Cystine
(%RDI)
117mg
(41%)
105mg
(37%)
63mg
(22%)
Glutamic Acid1073mg969mg580mg
Glycine400mg361mg216mg
Proline444mg401mg240mg
Serine326mg294mg176mg
Tyrosine
(%RDI)
154mg
(18%)
139mg
(16%)
83mg
(9%)
Hydroxyproline~mg~mg~mg
Other
Ash1.41g1.27g0.76g
Water132.48g119.59g71.61g
Alcohol0g0g0g
Caffeine0mg0mg0mg
Theobromine0mg0mg0mg
Fluoride~μg~μg~μg
Stats
Percent of
Daily Calorie Target
11.1%10%6%
Percent Water71.6%64.6%38.7%
Protein to Carb Ratio (g/g)0.210.210.21
* Percent Daily Values are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet.
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

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