Quinoa Nutrition Information - Is Quinoa a Super Food? Best Recipes, Use Tips

Quinoa is the latest fad food that is being proclaimed as a super food with incredibly nutrition and almost magical health benefits and other properties.

Quinoa is a tiny grain-like seed obtained from a Goosefoot family plant (family Chenopodiaceae) that is native to the highland plains of the Andes in South-America. It was part of the staple diet of the Incas who described it as the 'the mother grain'.

Though most Chenopods are weeds, several foods such as chard, spinach, beets and sugar beets are from the same family. Mostly of these are eaten as green vegetables rather than seeds.

The tiny Quinoa seeds resemble those of Amaranth, which was also a staple food of the Incas, and amaranth was thought to have provided up to 80% of the caloric consumption of Incas. Amaranth belongs to a different plant family. Most grains and cereal drops are grasses.

When cooked Quinoa resembles Couscous which is made from Semolina, which is derived from the endosperm or heart of the durum wheat kernel (starch removed).

Couscous is made by mixing two parts semolina, with one part durum wheat flour (starch added back).

This article reviews the nutritional values of Quinoa and compares them with those for Amaranth, Couscous and a variety of other common seed and grains used in cooking.

Qunioa used in Stuffed Bell-pepper Recipe
Qunioa used in Stuffed Bell-pepper Recipe | Source
Quinoa is a reed or rush like plant with tiny seeds rather than a cereal crop like corn
Quinoa is a reed or rush like plant with tiny seeds rather than a cereal crop like corn | Source
Source
Tiny seeds full of goodness
Tiny seeds full of goodness | Source

Quinoa a Natural Wholefood Super Food

Why is Quinoa Regarded as a Super Food

The key nutrition values for 100g of raw Quinoa are summarized to the table below, which also includes data for Amaranth, Semolina and Couscous. Other tables provide nutrient comparisons with the major grains and cereals: Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Oats, Rye, Wheat and Bulgur. Nutrients are also compared with major seeds and nuts: Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts.

The outstanding nutrient attributes for Quinoa are:

  • Relatively low calories counts of 368 calories per 100 g
  • Most of the Calories are derived from carbohydrate and protein, rather than fat (in contrast to many of the seeds and nuts).
  • Quinoa grains provide 15-18 g of vegetable protein per 100 g. Quinoa supplies all the essential amino acids need for the for the human body, especially in lysine, which is missing or in very low supply in many grains such as wheat, rice and corn (maize). This make it very value for vegetarians, especially vegans that have to get all their protein and amino acids from Quinoa.
  • Quinoa is gluten-free and Cholesterol Free. Gluten is the protein found in wheat and many other grasses that causes stomach upsets and diarrhea and triggers celiac disease.
  • The Fat to Protein ratio is very low (0.5) compared with most other seeds and grains
  • Quinoa seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber with 7 g of protein in each 100 g, which is equivalent to about 18% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. However, the fiber levels are moderate compared with other seeds and grains.
  • Quinoa grains are an excellent source of a wide range of vitamins, especially the B-complex group and vitamin E. The level of folate is also relatively high (184 micro g per 100g; about 45% of recommended daily intake for folates). The levels are two to three times that for most seeds and grains.
  • Quinoa is an excellent source of a wide range of minerals including like iron, potassium, manganese, copper, calcium and magnesium.
  • Quinoa is also a valuable source of essential fatty acids.

How Does Quinoa Compare with Similar Foods with Similar Uses?

The table below compares the nutrients in Quinoa with Amaranth, Semolina, Couscous The key points are:

  • Amaranth and Quinoa are very similar for most nutrients
  • Quinoa has about the concentration of folates and B-group vitamins such as Niacin and Thiamin.
  • The minerals in Amaranth and Quinoa are very similar
  • Semolina and Couscous have higher levels of fat, higher carbohydrate levels and more calories
  • Protein levels are about the same
  • Niacin levels are higher in Semolina and Couscous, but most other vitamins are lower
  • Quinoa has about twice the fiber levels of Semolina and Couscous
  • Minerals are higher in Quinoa

Conclusion: Quinoa appears to be a healthier choice than semolina or couscous because of the lower calories, higher levels of vitamins, especial folates, rich levels of minerals and higher fiber. These advantages are offset to some extent by the higher level of fat.

Comparison of Nutrients in Quinoa with Similar Foods that it Could Replace

 
Quinoa
Quinoa
Amaranth
Semolina
Couscous
Nutrients - Serving Size 100 g
Nutrient Value
Percentage of Recommended Daily Allowance
Nutrient Value
Nutrient Value
Nutrient Value
Energy
368 Cal
18.50%
371 Cal
359 Cal
376 Cal
Carbohydrates
64.2 g
49.00%
65.7 g
72.84 g
76.70 g
Protein
14.1 g
35.00%
13.6 g
12.67 g
12.54 g
Total Fat
6.1 g
20.00%
7.0 g
1.05 g
0.55 g
Cholesterol
0 mg
0.00%
0 mg
0 mg
0 mg
Dietary Fiber
7 g
18.50%
6.7 g
3.83 g
4.63 g
Vitamins
******
******
******
******
******
Folates (B9)
184 mcg
46.00%
82.0 mcg
71.86 mcg
50.49 mcg
Niacin (B3)
1.520 mg
9.50%
0.9 mg
3.31 mg
3.25 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.318 mg
24.00%
0.2 mg
0.08 mg
0.09mg
Thiamin (B1)
0.360 mg
30.00%
0.1 mg
0.28 mg
0.21 mg
Vitamin A
14 IU
0.50%
2 IU
0
0
Vitamin E
2.44 mg
17.00%
1.2 mg
0
0.42 mg
Electrolytes
******
******
******
******
******
Sodium
5 mg
<1%
4 mg
0.00
16.83 mg
Potassium
563 mg
12.00%
500 mg
186.82 mg
193.55 mg
Minerals
******
******
******
******
******
Calcium
47 mg
5.00%
159 mg
16.77 mg
25.25 mg
Copper
0.590 mg
65.50%
0.5 mg
0.19 mg
0.14 mg
Iron
4.57 mg
57.00%
7.6 mg
1.22 mg
1.26 mg
Magnesium
197 mg
42.00%
248 mg
47.90 mg
25.25 mg
Manganese
2.003 mg
87.00%
3.3 mg
0.62 mg
0.26 mg
Phosphorus
457 mg
65.00%
557 mg
136.52 mg
71.53 mg
Selenium
8.5 mcg
15.00%
18.7 mcg
 
90.89 mcg
Zinc
3.10 mg
28.00%
2.9 mg
1.05 mg
0.84 mg

Quinoa Nutrients Compared with Other Foods

How Does the Nutrients in Quinoa Compare with the Common Grains and Cereals?

The table below shows that the nutrients in Quinoa are similar to those in most of the grains and cereals. The key differences are:

  • Quinoa has higher protein and lower carbohydrate than most grains
  • Quinoa has slightly higher levels of fat
  • Calories are similar
  • Folate and B-group vitamins are higher except for Niacin, and Vitamin E levels are higher
  • Minerals are similar with Zinc and Iron levels higher than most
  • Protein levels are higher, except for Oats
  • Fiber levels in Quinoa are lower than most grains

Conclusion: Quinoa appears to be a healthier choice primarily because of the higher levels of protein, folate, B-group vitamins and higher levels of Zinc and Iron. These benefits are offset by higher amounts of fat and lower levels of fiber in Quinoa

How Does the Nutrients in Quinoa Compare with the Common Seeds and Nuts?

The table below shows that Quinoa is far healthier than most seeds and nuts for the following reasons:

  • Quinoa has much lower fewer calories
  • Protein levels are lower in Quinoa, but it had much lower levels of fat so that he fat to protein ratio is 2-10 times lower
  • Fat levels are much lower in Quinoa, which has virtually no saturated fat.
  • Fiber levels in Quinoa are moderate compared with the seeds and grains

Preparation and Serving Methods for Quinoa

The raw quinoa seeds have a thick outer coat (hulls). This must be removed as it is unpalatable and contains the compound saponin that has a soapy and bitter taste and can interfere with nutrient absorption.. Most grain sold has been de-hulled and pre-washed ready for cooking. Look for firm dry grains about he size of pearl millet. All the various colors are suitable. It is wise to remove the Quinoa from the pack an to wash thoroughly and sieve to ensure it is clean. Quinoa is cooked in a similar way to rice or buckwheat. Generally use three cups of water to each cup of dry quinoa. Test for doneness by examining and tasting the grains. They should be fluffy and translucency with a slightly chewy taste.

Cooking Quinoa Using The Rice Absorption Method

Add 1 cup of quinoa and a pinch of salt to 1 1/2 cups water and bring to the boil in a pot, stirring frequently. Turn the heat to very low and cover with a lid. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. All the water will have been absorbed into the quinoa, which will be translucent and soft. Rest for about 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Cooking Quinoa in a Rice Cooker

Rinsed the quinoa well and drain through a sieve. Transfer to a rice cooker with 2 cups of water. Cook in the rice cooker for about 15 minutes (you may have to experiment to find the right setting).

Cooking Quinoa in a Microwave Oven

Measure out the required amount using a ratio of 1 part Quinoa (well rinsed) to 2 parts water into a microwave suitable dish with a lid. Cook in full power for about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 1 minute. Stir and then return to the oven for another 3 minutes. Remove and let stand on the counter for about 2-3 minutes to finish cooking. Drain off any excess moisture.

Best Use and Serving Tips for Quinoa

Quinoa floor or cooked and cooled quinoa grains can be combined with wheat, maize and other cereals flours for bread and other baked good. This boosts the overall protein level and quality of the meal, adding the essential amino acid lysine.

Quinoa grains can be added to porridge, soups, curries and stews. ooked grains can be added to muesli and granola. Cooked grains are also a very health addition to homemade granola and protein bars.

Quinoa can be substituted for couscous as a side serve for a variety of meals.It can also be added to stir-fries and may Asian dishes

Quinoa can replace some or all of the cereal in slices, pies and desserts.

Cooked Quinoa can be added to protein shakes and blended with fruit and other ingredients to boost the protein levels.

Nutrients in Quinoa Compared with Various Grains and Cereals (100g)

Nutrient - 100g
Quinoa
Barley
Buckwheat
Corn
Millet
Oats
Rye
Wheat
Bulgur
Calories (kcal)
367
352
344
364
378
390
338
342
343
Protein (g)
14.12
9.92
13.25
9.42
11.02
16.90
10.34
11.31
12.29
Total Fat (g)
6.07
1.16
3.41
4.75
4.22
6.90
1.63
1.71
1.34
Total Carbs (g)
64.16
77.72
71.51
74.27
72.84
66.28
75.86
75.90
75.86
Fiber (g)
7.06
15.60
9.88
7.23
8.40
10.51
15.15
12.29
18.29
Sugar (g)
 
0.80
 
0.65
 
 
0.97
0.42
0.40
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vitamin C (mg)
 
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
Thiamin (mg)
0.36
0.19
0.10
0.39
0.42
0.76
0.32
0.39
0.23
Riboflavin (mg)
0.32
0.11
0.43
0.20
0.29
0.14
0.25
0.11
0.11
Niacin (mg)
1.52
4.60
7.02
3.63
4.72
0.96
4.27
4.38
5.11
Pant. Acid (mg)
0.77
0.28
1.23
0.42
0.85
1.35
1.46
0.95
1.05
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.49
0.26
0.21
0.62
0.38
0.12
0.29
0.37
0.34
Folate (mcg)
183.53
24.00
30.59
19.28
84.00
56.41
37.87
37.50
25.71
Vitamin A (IU)
14
22
0
214
0
0
12
8
9
Vitamin E (mg)
2.45
0.02
 
0.48
0.06
 
0.85
1.00
0.06
Vitamin K (mcg)
0.00
2.20
 
0.24
1.00
 
5.92
1.88
2.00
Minerals
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Calcium (mg)
47.06
28.00
18.82
7.23
8.00
53.85
23.67
31.25
34.29
Iron (mg)
4.56
2.50
2.21
2.70
3.00
4.72
2.63
4.56
2.46
Magnesium (mg)
197.65
80.00
230.59
127.71
114.00
176.92
108.88
93.75
162.86
Phosphorus (mg)
456.47
220.00
345.88
209.64
284.00
523.08
331.36
354.17
300.00
Potassium (mg)
562.35
280.00
461.18
286.75
196.00
428.21
508.88
431.25
411.43
Sodium (mg)
4.71
8.00
0.00
36.14
4.00
2.56
2.37
2.08
17.14
Zinc (mg)
3.11
2.12
2.40
2.22
1.68
3.97
2.65
3.33
1.94
Copper (mg)
0.59
0.42
1.10
0.31
0.75
0.63
0.37
0.36
0.33
Manganese (mg)
2.03
1.32
1.30
0.48
1.63
4.92
2.58
3.82
3.05
Selenium (mcg)
8.47
37.80
8.24
15.42
2.80
 
13.96
 
2.29
Fatty Acids
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sat. Fat (g)
0.71
0.24
0.74
0.67
0.72
1.22
0.20
0.28
0.23
Monounsat. Fat (g)
1.61
0.15
1.04
1.25
0.77
2.18
0.21
0.20
0.17
Polyunsat. Fat (g)
3.29
0.56
1.04
2.16
2.13
2.54
0.77
0.75
0.54

Comparison of the Nutrients in Quinoa with Common Seeds and Nuts

Food ( 100 g )
Cals
Tot. Carb
Fiber
Total Fat
Sat. Fat
Mono Fat
Protein
Fat to Protein Ratio
Quinoa
367
64.16
7.06
6.07
0.17
1.61
14.12
0.43
Amaranth
371
65.70
6.70
7.00
1.50
1.70
14.00
0.5
Pumpkin Seeds
533
17.64
3.88
45.86
8.47
14.11
24.34
1.28
Sesame Seeds
564
23.28
11.64
61.73
6.70
18.69
24.69
2.77
Sunflower Seeds
578
19.75
8.47
56.44
4.23
18.34
25.40
2.48
Walnuts
646
13.40
6.70
91.71
6.00
8.82
10.58
4.22
Pine Nuts
663
13.05
3.53
67.02
4.94
18.69
13.76
4.2
Pistachios
550
27.51
10.23
42.33
5.29
22.93
24.69
2.2
Peanuts
561
15.87
8.47
59.96
6.70
23.99
31.75
1.89
Cashews
547
32.45
3.17
56.44
7.76
23.63
18.69
2.44
Almonds
568
21.52
11.99
59.96
3.53
30.34
27.16
2.35
Brazil Nuts
649
11.99
7.41
81.13
14.81
24.34
19.40
4.63
Pecans
681
13.76
9.52
81.13
6.00
40.21
10.58
7.8
Hazelnuts
621
16.58
9.52
59.96
4.59
45.15
18.69
4.12
Madadamia Nuts
709
14.11
8.47
88.18
11.99
58.20
10.58
9.27

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 1 comment

heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

We just tried some quinoa pasta and loved it. Thanks for all the great info! Voted up!

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