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Monday, July 09, 2012

Quinoa vs. Brown Rice - which is better?

Question:

I've heard that Quinoa is better for you than brown rice? is this true? Should I switch? Is there different kinds of quinoa that are better than others?

 Answer: YES

With regard to the question of whether quinoa is, in fact, more healthy than brown rice the answer is not 100% cut and dry.

If we do a side by side comparison of the nutrition analysis for the two foods, we will see that quinoa does appear to be more nutritionally dense than brown rice for a number of different nutrients.

Quinoa is higher in:

  • protein
  • fiber
  • calcium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • zinc
  • riboflavin (one of the B Vitamins)
  • folate

In this regard, quinoa is arguably “more healthy”.

That being said, both grains are whole grains having positive health benefits for the body and would be nutritionally sound food choices. It is also important to note that depending on your past medical history, increased amounts of certain nutrients may not be beneficial. An example would be for a person with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD). Patients with CKD may need to monitor and limit the amount of potassium and phosphorus in the diet and due to the fact that quinoa has higher amounts of these nutrients than brown rice, it may not be as desirable for this particular population of patients.  If you have any questions regarding your past medical history and diet concerns, it is always a good idea to consult with your Physician to clarify clinical goals. As far as whether it is necessary to switch from one food to the other entirely, balance and moderation will take you far and can help provide diversity in the diet that will allow you to sustain your healthy eating habits. 

The differing varieties of quinoa all offer slightly different nutritional value but overall are not substantially different. Golden quinoa is a softer fluffier variety with a more subtle flavor. Black and red quinoa varieties tend to have a more crunchy texture and bolder flavors which make them more prominent components of a dish or recipe. Red quinoa is approximately 1 gram higher in fiber per ¼ Cup than the golden variety. When considering use of grains in the diet, it is recommended that half of all grains be whole grain products. Both brown rice and quinoa are wonderful selections in addition to whole wheat, whole rolled oats, bulgur, wild rice, buckwheat, barley, amaranth and rye among others.

Nutrition Infomation:

Brown Rice - Per ½ Cup

  • 71.26 g Water
  • 108 Calories
  • 2.52 g Protein
  • 0.88 g Fat
  • 22.39 g Carbohydrate
  • 1.8 g Fiber
  • 0.34 g Sugar
  • 10 mg Calcium
  • 0.41 mg Iron
  • 42 mg Magnesium
  • 81 mg Phosphorus
  • 42 mg Potassium
  • 5 mg Sodium
  • 0.61 mg Zinc
  • 1.49 mg Niacin
  • 0.141 mg B-6
  • 4 mcg Folate
  • 0.176 g Saturated Fatty Acids (heart unhealthy)
  • 0.31 g Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Quinoa - Per ½ Cup

  • 66.24 g Water
  • 111 Calories
  • 4.07 g Protein
  • 1.78 g Fat
  • 19.7 g Carbohydrate
  • 2.6 g Fiber
  • 0 g Sugar
  • 16 mg Calcium
  • 1.38 mg Iron
  • 59 mg Magnesium
  • 141 mg Phosphorus
  • 159 mg Potassium
  • 6 mg Sodium
  • 1.01 mg Zinc
  • 0.102 mg Riboflavin
  • 0.381 mg Niacin
  • 0.114 mg B-6
  • 39 mcg Folate