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Vitamins, Minerals, Fat Content of Quinoa - High Fiber, No Gluten

Updated on November 17, 2015

Quinoa - The Whole Grain

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Quinoa? What the heck is that stuff, even, anyway? Unless you’re pretty knowledgeable about your health foods and your whole grains, then that may be your response when the subject of quinoa comes up in conversation. Or even when you spot it on the shelves of your favourite local health-food store.

Sure, it’s in amongst the grains – the brown rice, wheat berries, pearl barley and buckwheat etc. – so you can count that as some kind of a hint. And if you don’t squint too close, it even looks pretty much like a grain – pale, round, and tiny, packaged up in clear bags.

Should you try it? How do you cook it? What is it good for? And again, what the heck is it?

Feel The Health!

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Quinoa is not, in fact, technically a grain, as you may have suspected if you’ve had a good look at it up close. It is actually the product of a seed-bearing plant not related to the grain family gramineae, however hard it might be to credit.

All About Quaint Unusual Grains

What do you know about quinoa?

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Quinoa For Nutrition and Health?

According to the Nutritiondata website, boiled quinoa has thirty-nine grams of carbohydrate, eight grams of protein, (pretty good for a grain), four grams of fat and five grams of fiber per one hundred and eighty-five gram serving. That's a pretty impressive result and could make it a useful ingredient if you're trying to follow a low-fat or high-fibre diet. The glycemic load of boiled quinoa is approximated on nutritiondata at eighteen. This could be a very useful parameter to know about for those with blood sugar problems or diabetes. If you are interested in the effects of low glycemic index foods on your blood sugar levels then your doctor is the person to ask.1

Do you need to know what micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients etc.) quinoa is rich in? It is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, and also has a respectable amount of iron and B vitamins such as thiamin and folate.

The fiber content of quinoa, at five grams per one hundred and eighty five gram serving, can be compared quite favourably with the NAS daily recommended quantity (twenty-five grams for the ladies, twenty-eight for the fellahs). That's not a bad contribution, huh? Maybe worth making it a 'regular' contribution to your diet!

In appearance quinoa looks like a small, flat round seed with a glossy strip around its outermost rim. I have sprouted it previously but found the results to be a little bland and insipid. You can cook quinoa just like any other ‘grain’: in my experience it does tend to absorb a lot of liquid, though, so just bear that in mind when judging amounts. I prefer it boiled like rice: it has a curious resilient, almost rubbery texture when cooked, and is a good addition to salads, and also soups and stews. For porridge or muesli you may also be able to find quinoa flakes in your local wholefood store – they're not usually cheap, though! (And whole grain quinoa itself can often be a little pricey to start with!)

If you're lucky you may even be able to locate quinoa pasta - but I haven't come across any myself. Let me know if you find it!

Quinoa For Gluten Intolerance?

How about the concerns of the gluten and wheat sensitive and the true celiacs amongst us? Does quinoa contain any gluten? You'll be pleased to hear that it doesn't (although you might want to check out the small print to find out whether it's the product of a gluten-free production line or not).2 Hooray! Another item to add to a gluten-free shopping list.

Feeling a little experimental in the culinary area? Wanting to try out a healthy new addition to increase the variety in your diet? Why not make it quinoa: maybe you can learn how to pronounce it and enlighten the rest of us!


1 Nutritiondata. "Quinoa, cooked." 2009. (27/05/2010). <>

2 Harpham, Zoe (ed.). "Eat well live well ... with gluten intolerance: gluten-free recipes and tips" Millers Point: Murdoch Books, 2006.

3. O'Brien, Arin. "Quinoa: A South American "Supergrain"". Vegetarian Times. Oct 1996, p112.


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