Quinoa is the healthier alternative to rice. For example, it contains more high-quality proteins and fibers while it contains fewer carbohydrates and calories.
I found out for you what makes quinoa so vital and what the proven health benefits are.
What you will learn in this article:
- What is quinoa
- The nutritional value of quinoa
- Or you can lose weight with quinoa
- The 8 proven health benefits
- 6 delicious recipes
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is used as a grain but this is not really. It is therefore called a pseudo grain. It is namely the seed of the quinoa plant.
Because it is not grain, it also contains no gluten . It is therefore very suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance .
You pronounce quinoa as Kiel-no-a and it occurs naturally in South America. In particular, it is grown on the highlands of Bolivia and Peru and is an important source of food for the local population.
The population around the highlands of Bolivia and Peru do not eat quinoa because it is a health hype. They do this out of sheer necessity because not much else grows on the high plains (around 4000 meters above sea level).
6000 years ago, the Incas also cultivated quinoa on these high plains. Incidentally, the Incas also cultivated the superfood maca in the Andes Mountains, which they ate like we eat potatoes. It must have been a very vital people with these superfoods in the backyard.
A few years ago, quinoa became a popular alternative to rice. As a result, global demand rose enormously, which greatly boosted prices.
For comparison: for quinoa you pay prices in the supermarket from 0.83 euros per 100 grams while for brown rice this is 0.14 euros per 100 grams. It is therefore roughly 6 times more expensive than brown rice.
Since 2014, quinoa has also been grown on a large scale in the Netherlands to meet the large domestic needs.
Quinoa, incidentally, grows well in the Dutch climate. Originally it grows on the cold, nutrient-poor and dry highlands. The crop can therefore take a beating and night frost.
There are 120 types of quinoa and you have red, white and black quinoa. You often see the red in salads because it best retains its shape.
In terms of nutritional value, the color does not matter that much. The dark colors generally contain higher concentrations of antioxidants.
It is also a matter of taste or what you like in your dish that determine the choice for a certain type of quinoa.
Nutritional value of quinoa
A number of properties of quinoa make it a healthier alternative to rice. These are:
- It is rich in high-quality proteins
- It contains all 9 essential amino acids . This also in an almost ideal ratio !
- It is rich in dietary fiber
- It has a low glycemic index (35) through which the carbohydrates are slowly converted into glucose (more on that later)
|Nutritional value of quinoa||Per 100 grams|
|Of which sugars||0 grams|
|Including dietary fiber||7 grams|
|Egg whites||14 grams|
You can also buy pre-cooked quinoa. This has a different nutritional value. This can also differ slightly per brand.
Fatty acids from quinoa
Because quinoa are seeds, they contain more fatty acids than grains. There are 6.1 grams of fatty acids per 100 grams of which 0.7 grams are saturated fats. This is in particular palmitic acid.
Quinoa contains 1.6 grams of monounsaturated fatty acid, the majority of which are oleic acid (omega 9).
In addition, it contains 3.3 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acid, the majority of which is linoleic acid ( omega 6 ).
You don’t have to use it because of these fatty acids. You normally get this too much if not enough.
Linoleic acid (omega 6) in particular is more likely to get too much or too little because it is often added to margarines and is in large quantities in vegetable oils such as sunflower oil.
For optimum health, a ratio of 1: 1 between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids is required .
For many people this ratio is much higher, often as high as 20: 1, because so many foods contain or contain omega 6.
Protein in quinoa
Many people use quinoa because of the protein.
The special thing is that it contains all 9 essential amino acids in a good ratio .
This makes it particularly suitable as a vegetable protein source for vegetarians , vegans and strength athletes .
|Amino acids||Per 100 grams|
|Total proteins||14.1 grams|
|Asparic acid||1.13 grams|
Are you looking for high-quality vegetable protein sources? Then also look at hemp seed .
Minerals in quinoa
Quinoa also contains quite a few minerals and trace elements in nice quantities. It generally contains more minerals than brown rice.
|Minerals||Per 100 grams|
|Calcium||47 mg (5% RDA)|
|Iron||4.6 mg (25% RDA)|
|Phosphorus||456 mg (46% RDA)|
|Magnesium||198 mg (49% RDA)|
|Potassium||563 mg (16% RDA)|
|Zinc||3.1 mg (21% RDA)|
|Manganese||2.0 mg (102% RDA)|
|Copper||0.6 mg (30% RDA)|
|Selenium||8.5 mcg (12% mcg)|
Vitamins in quinoa
Quinoa contains many vitamins, especially the B vitamins are well represented. In the table below you can see which they are.
|Vitamins||Per 100 grams|
|Vitamin A||14 IU|
|Beta carotene||8 mcg|
|Vitamin E||2.4 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0.4 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.3 mg|
|Vitamin B3||1.5 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.8 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||0.5 mg|
|Vitamin B11 (folic acid)||184 mcg|
Can you lose weight with quinoa?
Quinoa is definitely a food that fits within a diet that is aimed at losing weight. This is because it has a number of beneficial properties that are useful if you want to lose weight .
Lose weight thanks to slow carbohydrates in quinoa
Quinoa is often used as a substitute for rice. If we compare quinoa with rice, it is first and foremost noticeable that quinoa contains fewer carbohydrates. 64 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams compared to 78 grams for rice.
The most important thing here is that the carbohydrates from quinoa are slowly digested and converted into glucose.
The glycemic index (GI) is used to indicate how quickly carbohydrates are converted into glucose and affect blood sugar . The higher this value, the faster blood glucose will rise.
The GI of quinoa is only 35 while the GI of white rice is 70.
Because quinoa contains fewer carbohydrates and also has a lower GI than rice, the glycemic load (GL) is really a lot lower than that of rice. The GL is the effect of a certain amount of food on blood glucose.
Now you may wonder what all this has to do with losing weight? If you want to lose weight it is very important that your blood sugar level remains as stable as possible .
If you get peaks in your blood glucose, then it will also drop sharply, after which your blood sugar will become low. This low blood sugar level induces the feeling of hunger so that you want to eat or snack between meals ( source , source ).
At a peak in your blood glucose your body will have to produce a lot of insulin . This is necessary so that the cells can absorb the glucose from the blood and thus be supplied with energy.
If there is a lot of insulin in the blood, this is a sign for your body that a lot of energy is available. At that moment the signal is issued to store and hold fat. Insulin is therefore often referred to as thickening hormone.
If you want to be able to lose weight, it is therefore important that the blood glucose remains as stable as possible. Quinoa is a carbohydrate source that does not give rise to the dreaded spikes in blood sugar.
An additional advantage of this is that you will have long-term energy after eating quinoa because the glucose is gradually released into the blood.
Lose weight thanks to proteins in quinoa
Another good characteristic of quinoa for weight loss are the proteins.
Proteins digest more slowly than carbohydrates and therefore give a satisfied feeling longer after a meal. This also helps to prevent eating between meals.
Proteins also have hardly any influence on blood sugar levels and because digestion costs more energy, your resting metabolism literally goes up ( source ).
Another good feature of quinoa is that it is ‘real’ food. It is rich in amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Because you really nourish your body with it, you will less likely need to eat more.
If you want to lose weight then quinoa is definitely a responsible source of carbohydrates.
However, within a low- carbohydrate diet you will have to eat quinoa in moderation. After all, they remain carbohydrates. In any case, it is a much better choice than potato, rice or pasta.
Health benefits of quinoa
Everyone can say that quinoa is so healthy, but I always want to see the proof of it. I delved into the scientific publications and researched it for you. Below I share my location.
Health advantage 1: contains a lot of fiber
Dietary fiber is also important if you want to lose weight . This is because they provide a feeling of fullness that means you eat less. Fiber also plays a role in the production of certain hormones that play a role in weight loss ( source ).
Health benefit 2: contains all essential amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and muscle tissue. They are also involved in all kinds of processes in your body.
There are 22 amino acids that the human body uses. Of these 22, 9 are essential and the other 13 are not essential.
Your body can create the non-essential amino acids from other amino acids. Your body needs to get the essential amino acids through food.
Animal protein sources such as egg, meat, fish and dairy are a good source of essential amino acids.
Vegetable protein sources often lack some essential amino acids or have them in unfavorable proportions. If you eat vegetarian or vegan food or just want to eat less meat, that is a problem. This can be detrimental to your health in the long term.
Quinoa not only contains more proteins than other cereals, but also has a much better amino acid profile ( source ).
Quinoa is rich in the amino acid lysine, which is rare in vegetable foods. The amino acid profile is similar to that of caisene protein from dairy products ( source ).
Health organizations recommend replacing animal protein sources (in part) with vegetable protein sources ( source ).
By making more use of vegetable protein sources such as quinoa, lentils, beans and hemp seed , you can reduce the consumption of meat and poultry.
Health benefit 3: rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are important to protect our bodies against free radicals. If we have too many free radicals in our body, oxidation occurs in body cells and tissue, which can cause chronic diseases.
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which slows down aging and we are better protected against various diseases.
Quinoa is very rich in antioxidants and it contains more antioxidants than the foods that we can replace with it such as grains ( source ).
By germinating the quinoa seed you can increase the amount of antioxidants even further ( source ).
One of the antioxidants in quinoa is quercetin . This is one of the most powerful antioxidants from mother nature. This antioxidant has a cholesterol-lowering effect ( source ) and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer and osteoporosis ( source , source , source ).
As already indicated in the introduction, quinoa is available in around 120 varieties. As a rule of thumb you can maintain that the quinoa with the most bitter taste contains the most antioxidants. These are often the dark-colored variants.
Health advantage 4: gluten free
In this study of 4 years ago, it was found that 30% of Americans ate less or no gluten at all. This percentage had never been this high. It is a trend that people are becoming increasingly aware of their health and nutrition.
Many people also include gluten-free food. Gluten is a protein that occurs in many grains such as wheat, rye and spelled.
Only a small part of the population (less than 1%) ( source ) must eat gluten-free because they have celiac disease .
In celiac disease your immune system attacks gluten proteins and you get severe complaints if you get a minimal amount of gluten. A few cookie crumbs may be enough to trigger the symptoms. If you have celiac disease, your intestines will be damaged if you do not actually eat 100% gluten-free.
Many people do not have celiac disease, but they are hypersensitive to gluten ( source ). This is called gluten sensitivity. If you have gluten sensitivity then you feel a lot better with a gluten-free diet.
With gluten you can suffer from abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, chronic fatigue, joint pain and muscle pain. By following a gluten-free diet, these symptoms disappear.
Nowadays there are quite a few gluten-free foods for sale in the supermarkets. However, the problem with some gluten-free products is that they are not always healthy.
Gluten-free white bread is still white bread that contains refined carbohydrates for example. And gluten-free cake, for example, is also not healthy because of the sugars, refined carbohydrates and (trans) fats.
Quinoa is a perfect gluten-free replacement for many carbohydrate sources. It is pure and unprocessed food that is rich in nutrients.
Studies have shown that by using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free ingredients such as tapioca, potato, rice flour and corn, you get considerably more nutrients and antioxidants ( source , source ).
Health advantage 5: rich in magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral and probably also the most important.
Magnesium is involved in a huge number of processes in the body. For example, you need it for building body proteins, building your bones, nerve impulses to the muscles and the production of enzymes.
Magnesium also plays a role in the breakdown of body fat. Magnesium is therefore also important if you want to lose weight.
With a portion of quinoa you already have almost half of your daily magnesium requirement!
Quinoa, however, contains phytic acid (an anti-nutrient) which binds magnesium and other minerals, making it less effective for the body to absorb ( source ).
By soaking it first , or by allowing it to germinate before you cook it, the phytic acid largely breaks down to 98% ( source ).
As a result, the minerals are better absorbed and you optimally profit from all minerals in quinoa.
Health advantage 6: rich in copper
One portion of quinoa gives you around 30% of your daily requirement for copper. Copper is a trace element that you often get too little with the Western diet. Copper is important to keep the heart healthy ( source ).
Health advantage 7: rich in phosphorus
One portion of quinoa provides nearly half of your daily phosphorus requirement.
This is important because our Western diet (in which more and more processed food is consumed) means that there is less and less phosphorus in our diet.
If you do not get enough phosphorus, the quality of life will deteriorate and it is bad for the health of your bones ( source ).
Health advantage 8: anti-inflammatory
Chronic inflammations are at the root of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes type and cancer ( source ).
The antioxidants in quinoa help to reduce ( source ).
Quinoa contains saponins . This is a substance that is believed to be produced by plants to protect against insects, bacteria and fungi.
Saponins act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. The saponins in quinoa increase the production of anti-inflammatory substances in the body ( source ).
Quinoa contains a number of anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients interfere with the absorption of nutrients. These are:
- Phytic acid
- Oxalic acid
We have already mentioned at Health Benefit 5 about phytic acid which binds the minerals in quinoa. Soaking or germinating the quinoa reduces the amount of phytic acid.
Phytic acid is found in many types of grains, seeds and nuts ( source ). It is in the outer shell to prevent the crop from germinating.
The substance saponin to which quinoa owes its anti-inflammatory properties (see health benefit # 8) can also act as an anti-nutrient.
It reduces the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc.
You can also solve this by soaking or germinating the quinoa and by rinsing well with water.
Another anti-nutrient that occurs in quinoa is oxalic acid.
Oxalic acid can bind with the calcium that is in quinoa. This can cause kidney stones ( source ).
If you are not sensitive to kidney stones you don’t have to be afraid of that but if you get kidney stones easily then you should not eat quinoa.
How do you prepare quinoa?
You can prepare quinoa seeds in different ways. You can first let it soak or germinate.
You need 50 to 70 grams of uncooked quinoa seeds per person. That may not seem like much, but because it absorbs moisture it becomes heavier and it gets more volume during cooking. Just like rice.
Prepare quinoa by soaking it
Before you start cooking quinoa you will first have to wash and soak them. This is to break down the phytic acid.
You do this by putting the quinoa in a sieve and holding it under the tap. Then let it soak for at least 10 minutes in a bowl of water. After this you rinse it again under the tap using a strainer.
After this you add the seeds to a pan with boiling water. Let it boil for 10 to 12 minutes or as long as it is indicated on the package. For the taste you can add salt if you want to cook rice.
Then remove it from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes with the lid on the pan. After this, stir it and let it rest for another 5 minutes. Then you drain it and they are ready to eat.
Prepare quinoa by allowing it to germinate
By first germinating quinoa seeds, the phytic acid is better broken down than by soaking it alone. This requires a little more planning. Germinate by sprouting through the seeds.
First soak the quinoa seeds for 2 to 4 hours. After this you can have them germinate for 12 to 48 hours. This is best done in a special germ or nut milk bag. But an empty pot or a deep plate is also sufficient.
You should rinse the seeds a few times in between.
Now that you know how to prepare quinoa, it’s time for some delicious recipes.
Which quinoa do I recommend and where do I order it?
The quinoa that I use myself is the one from the vitamin store. This quinoa comes from controlled organic cultivation.
Quinoa has a slightly nutty taste. The taste can vary from something sweet to something bitter. The black species are usually somewhat bitter and also contain more antioxidants.
You can eat quinoa hot or cold. The cold food is done by allowing it to cool down after you have cooked it. For example, you can do it through the salad to provide your salad with some protein and carbohydrates.
Recipe 1: quinoa pancakes
These pancakes are ideal as a power lunch.
Proteins, carbohydrates, fats and dietary fiber are all well represented while these pancakes only contain 227 kcal each.
Ingredients (for 2 people):
- 350 ml of water
- 125 grams of quinoa
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 large proteins
- 100 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 100 grams of fresh spinach leaves
- 4 tablespoons salsa (optional)
- Boil water in a pan. Add the quinoa, the garlic and the salt. Cook the quinoa as described above or according to the instructions on the package.
- Drain the quinoa and put it on the fire for 2 minutes while you stir it to let it dry.
- Put the quinoa in a large bowl and let it cool.
- Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius
- In the meantime, stir together the proteins with the Parmesan cheese, basil, pepper and quinoa.
- Put 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan and heat over a medium heat.
- Make 4 pancakes from the mixture and bake 2 in the pan. Bake for 3 minutes each side until golden brown.
- Then bake the last 2 pancakes with some olive oil.
- Serve with the spinach and some salsa.
Recipe 2: quinoa risotto
That quinoa is a good alternative to rice is proven with this risotto recipe. Risotto has never been so healthy and delicious!
It is important that you first soak the quinoa as described under ‘how do you prepare quinoa?’
With this you remove the bitter from quinoa which is important to get the somewhat sweet risotto taste of real risotto.
Ingredients (6 servings)
- 300 grams of quinoa
- 1.5 liters of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon of grass butter
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped roasted hazelnuts
- Wash the quinoa and soak it as described above.
- In a large pan, bring the water to the boil with the quinoa, salt, thyme and bay leaf. Cook it for 5 minutes and then remove the bay leaf and thyme.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion in it. Using a sieve spoon, scoop out the large pan and scoop into the frying pan. Bake for 2 minutes while stirring.
- Add a tablespoon of hot water from the large pan to the frying pan and cook until the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa. Repeat this until it no longer absorbs moisture.
- Add the white wine vinegar and stir it with it.
- Spoon the quinoa and garnish each portion with 2 teaspoons of Greek yogurt (or crème fraîche) and 2 teaspoons of crushed hazelnuts.
Recipe 3: Quinoa banana pudding
The quinoa banana pudding is ideal for exercising. This pudding is rich in carbohydrates and gives you the energy to fight it hard.
Kids also love these banana puddings.
- 125 grams of quinoa
- 500 ml coconut milk
- 350 ml of water
- 2 ripe bananas
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon grass butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- A pinch of salt
- Wash the quinoa and let it soak. Cook according to the instructions on the package.
- Put the bananas with the coconut milk in the blender. Add 3 tablespoons of honey, the butter, half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and a pinch of salt. And mix until a smooth whole is created.
- Add the mixture from the blender to the pan with quinoa. Bring it to the boil and let it thicken while you stir it constantly. After about 10 minutes the pudding should have the correct thickness.
- Pour the pudding into a bowl and let them cool in the fridge for at least an hour before you serve it. Garnish the pudding with some honey and sprinkle with some cinnamon powder.
Recipe 4: quinoa salad with sweet potato
This salad is rich in slow carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients for the salad:
- 500 ml of water
- 200 grams of quinoa
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 100 grams of sliced broccoli
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- Half a cucumber, peeled, pitted and diced
Ingredients for the dressing:
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- The juice of half a lemon
- The juice of half a lime
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 40 grams finely sliced coriander
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Wash the quinoa and let it soak. Cook it according to the instructions on the package. And let it cool.
- Cover the oven plate with baking paper and divide the sweet potato cubes on top and sprinkle the potato with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Let the sweet potato roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. And let it cool.
- Place the broccoli, yellow pepper, red pepper and cucumber in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and sweet potato and mix everything together.
- Use a small bowl to make the dressing. Put the olive oil, honey, lemon and lime juice and salt and pepper in the dish. Stir well with a fork.
- Mix the dressing with the salad and garnish with coriander leaves.
Recipe 5: quinoa burgers
The vegetarian burgers that you can buy in the supermarket usually contain soy, wheat and gluten. This in addition to additives such as dextrose, sugar, sunflower oil and yeast extract (E621); additions that do not immediately make you happy.
You simply make the best vegetarian burgers yourself because these vegetarian burgers are free of junk and super rich in high-quality proteins!
- 400 grams of cooked quinoa
- 4 eggs
- 1 large sweet onion
- 40 grams of appropriate Parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Put the ingredients, with the exception of the coconut oil, in a bowl and mix everything well together.
- Knead 6 to 9 hamburgers from the mixture.
- Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Bake the hamburgers 8 to 10 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Recipe 6 – Quinoa salad with avocado and tuna
This lunch gives you everything to get through the afternoon well; healthy omega 3 fatty acids, high-quality proteins, slow carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- 100 grams of quinoa
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- 200 grams of cherry tomatoes
- A can of tuna (approx. 100 grams) in water or olive oil
- 50 grams of feta
- 50 grams of fresh leaf spinach
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- A pinch of salt
- Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package and let it cool and a large bowl.
- For the dressing: put the olive oil in a bowl with the lemon juice, the white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Stir well with a fork. Add any ground black pepper to taste.
- Once the quinoa has cooled, add these remaining ingredients with the dressing. Mix everything together and you are ready to serve your salad.
Enjoy your meal!