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What is quinoa? | Health Benefits – Recipes – Nutrition Facts

What is quinoa? Find out all about this amazing superfood, how to cook with quinoa, discover healthy quinoa recipes, and learn about quinoa nutrition facts! 

Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can eat! It is a pseudo-cereal (usually considered a grain) which contains a high amount of proteins and essential amino acids. It is also known as “super food”. The plant is usually about 1-2 m high. The seeds of this plant are about 2 mm in diameter, and they are of various colors from white to black or red.

This popular superfood is extremely rich in fibers, minerals, and proteins. However, it does not contain any gluten in it, so this is definitely a bonus! If you are vegan, then you must remember that quinoa is a good source of protein for you!


  • About 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, quinoa was domesticated in its originated region of Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Columbia.
  • It belongs to the amaranth family – Amaranthaceae.
  • Quinoa is deemed as a grain, but it is not a grain at all. As a matter of fact, it is relative to beets, spinach, and chards.
  • Quinoa is gluten-free and even the leaves of this plant are edible.
  • It is a complete source of protein – it has all 9 essential amino acids stored in it.
  • There are about 120 known types of quinoa. The black, red and white are the most commercialized types.

Quinoa Nutrition Facts

Want to know what nutrients can be found in quinoa? Here is the nutritional content for quinoa, per 1 cup (~185g). As you can see, quinoa is low in calories but high in essential nutrients. Only one cup of cooked quinoa will offer you 8g of protein, 58%DV Manganese, 30%DV Magnesium, 28%DV Phosphorus, 19%DV Folate, lots of other vitamins, especially from the B complex, and other important minerals.

Protein in quinoa / 100g: 4g

Carbs in quinoa / 100g: 21g

Calories in quinoa / 100g: 120kcal

More details can be found here.


When it comes to dietary fiber, quinoa has 2 times the amount as compared to white rice. Also, in a single serving, quinoa has 4x the amount of iron as compared to brown rice.

By eating quinoa, 29% of daily magnesium needs are taken care of in merely a single serving! It can be cooked in under 15 minutes, compared to brown rice which takes more than 30 minutes.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa is an amazing plant with so many health benefits! Here are the health benefits of quinoa and the reasons why you should add it to your diet:

  1. Nutritious: The first reason for adding quinoa to your diet is that it is extremely nutritious. Although it is a seed (pseudo-cereal to me more exact), it is eaten like a grain. There are 3 kinds of quinoa: red, white and black. It is rich in several nutrients and therefore you should add it to your diet.
  1. Bioactive substances: Not only does quinoa contain vitamins and minerals, but it also contains bioactive substances such as flavonoids. The two flavonoids that are found in quinoa are Quercetin and Kaempferol. They have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antiviral and antidepressant properties.
  1. High in fiber: Quinoa is rich in fibers so your digestion will be perfect!
what is quinoa

This is how the quinoa plant looks like. Photo source:

  1. Gluten-free: Quinoa is gluten-free, so people who cannot tolerate gluten can also eat it.
  1. Contains essential amino acids: Quinoa contains essential amino acids that our body requires for growth, unlike the other plant sources of protein. Therefore, it is a great addition to your diet.
  1. Minerals, such as magnesium: Quinoa contains many minerals that people usually lack in their diets such as magnesium, zinc, iron, and potassium.
  1. Antioxidants: Quinoa is rich in antioxidants, which helps combat the aging process and many harmful diseases.

After reading these great health benefits of quinoa, I am sure you’ll want to add it to your diet! Here are some recipes of quinoa which you can try:

What is Quinoa Good For?

A recent study shows that quinoa consumption has many beneficial physiological effects, including decreased weight gain, improved lipid profile and improved capacity to respond to oxidative stress.

Also, frequent consumption of quinoa reduces the burden of chronic disease.  It also reduces type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

How to cook quinoa

Cooking quinoa is just as easy as cooking rice. Thoroughly wash quinoa with water before cooking so it won’t taste bitter. Then, you just use the 1:2 ratio: 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water. Put both of the items in a saucepan and let them boil. Reduce the heat and cook until it’s soft. You’ll see that most of the liquid will absorb in about 15 to 20 minutes.


Though there are over 120 varieties of quinoa, the most cultivated are:

  • White Quinoa (also called as Ivory quinoa)
  • Red Quinoa (considered best for salads and other recipes)
  • Black Quinoa (it is a bit sweeter and earthier than white quinoa)

Black and red quinoa’s grains do not stick with each other and they have a crunchier texture, while the white quinoa cooks up fluffier than the others.

Here’s a great video that shows you how to cook quinoa perfectly, every time!

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Easy Quinoa Recipes To Try

  1. Quinoa Tabbouleh

This is a high protein meal with delicious flavors. You can prepare this recipe within a few minutes and it tastes great.

vegan gluten free quinoa

  1. Stuffed Zucchini with quinoa and lentils

This is a low calorie, low fat, budget friendly recipe that you must try if you are a vegan. It has a delicious taste and contains a lot of protein.

Stuffed zucchini with quinoa lentils

  1. Quinoa patties

You can prepare this amazing recipe in just half an hour. The quinoa patties are crunchy and delicious. They are also very healthy.

Quinoa Patties with Sweet Corn Burger

Protein-Rich Beans and Quinoa Sliders

Make these quinoa sliders as quick snacks or appetizers for a party and every guest will love you! ?They’re great for lunch too.

Protein Rich Red Beans and Quinoa Sliders

You should definitely try these quinoa recipes which are healthy, delicious and budget-friendly! All in all, quinoa is a perfect rich diet that is full of protein and tastes utterly good at the same time.