Quinoa and rice both are naturally gluten-free
Quinoa and rice both are naturally gluten-free

Rice is the most commonly consumed grain on Earth for a long time and enjoyed due to its texture and taste. Quinoa also takes on a similar texture to the rice once it is cooked, but the nutritional value of quinoa is much higher than rice.

Quinoa and rice both are naturally gluten-free; therefore, both are great options for people who have an intolerance to gluten (a protein in grains like wheat). However, quinoa is reported as a superior grain than rice, wheat, and corn when considering nutrient composition.

Quinoa is better than white rice because of its higher nutritional benefits such as:

  • Quinoa has a lower glycemic index than white rice, which means it does not spike your blood sugar level quickly.
  • Quinoa is rich in both fiber and protein, contains a much higher amount of other nutrients, and has a similar fluffy texture to the rice. A cup of quinoa contains twice more protein and about 5 g more fiber than white rice.
  • Quinoa contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice.
  • Unlike rice, quinoa fibers help to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
  • Unlike rice, quinoa reduces your blood fat levels after a meal called triglycerides.
  • Quinoa has a higher amount of all essential amino acids. A higher amount of lysine and tryptophan (amino acid) in quinoa confers it with fascinating therapeutic properties.
  • Quinoa is much higher in mineral content such as calcium (three times), iron (five times), potassium (eight times), magnesium, phosphorus, zinc (absent in rice), and manganese (two times) than rice.

Brown rice is known as a healthier option than white rice. However, quinoa is more beneficial than brown rice because of the following reasons:

  • It contains higher amounts of protein and lower carbohydrates per servings than brown rice.
  • It contains all nine essential amino acids, unlike brown rice.
  • It contains phytochemicals, which are substances that protect the individual from anemia, osteoporosis, and high lipid level.

What are the benefits of quinoa?

There are several health benefits of quinoa. They are as follows:

  • Abundant nutritional health values because it contains
    • Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.
    • A higher amount of protein (15%).
    • All essential amino acids, including lysine.
    • Relatively low fat, such as omega-6 polyunsaturated fat.
    • Notable quantities of minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins.
    • High dietary fiber.
    • Flavonoids that have antioxidative properties.
    • Polyphenols that reduce inflammation.
  • Helps to maintain a healthy body weight
  • Controls diabetes
  • Safe to eat in gluten-intolerant diseases
  • Beneficial for heart and chronic diseases
  • Reduces high levels of blood fats called triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Enhances immune system functions
  • Slows down or prevents metastasis (cancer spread) together with Vitamin C

Are there any side effects of eating quinoa?

Quinoa is likely safe when it is eaten as food. People who are sensitive to other grains may have allergic reactions to quinoa. These may manifest as rashes, cramps, and loose motions. You must consult with your healthcare provider before starting quinoa consumption.

There is insufficient information regarding the safety of having quinoa in a larger amount as a medicine during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Is quinoa easy to digest?

The quinoa can be a little unpalatable. The bitter residue on it called saponin can be mildly toxic, which may cause mild gastric distress in some people. However, cleaning the grains thoroughly can make them more digestible. Additionally, the high protein content in quinoa may cause bloating in some individuals.

You can introduce quinoa gradually in your diet in salads and soups to prevent gases and cramping.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/16/2020
References
WebMD. Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, and How to Prepare Quinoa and Quinoa Flakes. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-quinoa#1

WebMD. Benefits of Quinoa for Low-Carb and GI-Friendly Diets. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/quinoa-benefits-low-carb-gi-friendly-diets

Varli SN, Sanlier N. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Quinoa (Chenopodium Quinoa Willd.) J Cereal Sci. May 2016;69. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301933573_Nutritional_and_health_benefits_of_quinoa_Chenopodium_quinoa_Willd

The Nutrition Source. Quinoa. Harvard T.H. Chan https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/quinoa/