Many Health Benefits of Quinoa

Many Health Benefits of Quinoa




Quinoa is an ancient grain that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its excellent nutritional profile and quinoa health benefits. Here is an overview of why you may want to consider incorporating more quinoa into your diet.

An overview of quinoa

Quinoa health benefits stem from its stellar nutritional makeup. Here are some key facts about quinoa:

  • Quinoa is not technically a grain, but rather a seed of the goosefoot plant. However, it is prepared and eaten similarly to grains.
  • There are over 120 varieties of quinoa, but the most common is white quinoa. Other colors include red and black.
  • It was first cultivated over 7,000 years ago in the Andes Mountains of South America. The Incas referred to quinoa as the “mother grain.”
  • Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, making it a good option for anyone avoiding gluten.
  • One cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately:
    • 222 calories
    • 8 grams protein
    • 5 grams fiber
    • 39 net carbs

Now let’s explore quinoa health benefits in more detail.

Highly nutritious

One of the top quinoa health benefits is its stellar nutrient profile (1).

Nutrient % Daily Value per 1 Cup Serving
Manganese 58%
Magnesium 30%
Phosphorus 28%
Folate 19%
Copper 18%
Iron 15%
Zinc 13%
Thiamin 13%
Riboflavin 11%
Vitamin B6 11%

Quinoa contains more nutrients per calorie compared to other common grains. It’s particularly high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.

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High in fiber

One of the standout quinoa health benefits is its high fiber content. One cup of quinoa contains 5 grams of dietary fiber, meeting 20% of the recommended daily intake (2).

Fiber has been shown to help:

  • Improve digestive health
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Regulate blood sugar levels
  • Aid weight loss

The fiber in quinoa is mostly insoluble, which helps promote fullness and consistency of bowel movements (3).

Quinoa also contains smaller amounts of soluble fiber to help feed the healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome (4).


Another one of the popular quinoa health benefits is that it is a naturally gluten-free food. This makes it a suitable option for anyone following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or another health reason.

Some researchers have suggested that going gluten-free when you don’t have celiac disease may have downsides. However, swapping gluten grains for whole foods like quinoa is generally considered safe and healthy for those without celiac disease (5).

Plus, quinoa has a very low glycemic index, which means it won’t lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels like some other gluten-free foods (6).

High in protein

Most plant foods are low in one or more essential amino acids needed to form complete protein. However, quinoa is an exception and contains all nine essential amino acids (7).

With 8 grams of high-quality protein per one cup serving, quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source and one of its top health benefits (8).

Quinoa protein resembles the nutrient profile of milk protein and has a comparable protein quality to beef (9).

For anyone looking to increase protein intake on a plant-based diet, quinoa is a great option.

May aid weight loss

With its stellar nutrition profile, quinoa can be a smart choice for anyone looking to lose excess weight. It is high in fiber and protein, both of which have weight loss benefits.

The protein in quinoa increases feelings of fullness, delays stomach emptying and boosts metabolism (10).

Meanwhile, the fiber keeps you feeling satisfied between meals. One study found that eating 50 grams of fiber per day from high-fiber foods like quinoa reduced calorie intake by 10% and led to 4.6 pounds of weight loss over 4 months (1100312-1/fulltext)).

Quinoa is much lower on the glycemic index scale than typical grains, with less of an impact on blood sugar. This helps avoid energy crashes that can lead to overeating (12).

Rich in antioxidants

Quinoa also provides an array of beneficial antioxidants including phenolic acids, tannins and flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol (13).

These antioxidants have anti-inflammatory benefits and play an important role in preventing chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Some lab studies indicate quinoa antioxidants may have anti-cancer effects against breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and colon cancer cells (14).

However, these are preliminary findings that need to be confirmed with human trials before conclusions can be made. Still, incorporating antioxidant-rich foods like quinoa into your diet provides excellent health protective benefits.

Easy to incorporate into your diet

Lastly, one of the simplest quinoa health benefits is that it very versatile and easy to enjoy in a variety of dishes from breakfast to dessert.

Quinoa has a mild nutty taste and light, fluffy texture when cooked. It works well in everything from salads to casseroles to porridges.

Here are some simple ways to enjoy quinoa:

  • Breakfast porridge – cook quinoa in milk and top with fresh fruit, nuts and honey
  • Veggie quinoa salad – mix with roasted vegetables, greens and vinaigrette dressing
  • Stuffed bell peppers – combine quinoa with sauteed veggies and herbs
  • Quinoa pilaf – saute quinoa with veggies and seasonings for a flavorful side dish
  • Quinoa egg muffins – combine quinoa with eggs and veggies then bake
  • Dark chocolate quinoa bars – mix quinoa flakes into a sweet treat

The possibilities are endless for integrating this super grain into your routine. Quinoa offers maximum nutrition in an easy-to-eat form.

Potential downsides

While quinoa offers some excellent nutritional health benefits, there are a couple potential downsides to consider:

  • Phytates – Quinoa contains phytic acid or phytates, which may impact mineral absorption to a small degree (15). However, quinoa also contains vitamin C which counteracts this effect.
  • Oxalates – For people prone to kidney stones, oxalates in quinoa could be a concern. However quinoa is still low-oxalate, so smaller servings should not pose an issue ([16](


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