13 Benefits of Quinoa | A nutritional wonder


Nutritional Information: 1 Cup of Quinoa

quinoa calorias
quinoa proteina
quinoa manganeso
quinoa fosforo
quinoa h

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Nutritional Information: 1 Cup of Quinoa

quinoa calorias
quinoa proteina
quinoa manganeso
quinoa fosforo
quinoa h

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Quinoa is a great food to add to your diet. It's exceptionally high in many important minerals and vitamins, high protein, naturally gluten-free and can be used in all sorts of dishes [7]. There are many benefits to eating this grain, but it can be confusing when you're trying to figure out how much quinoa to cook or what type of quinoa you should buy. In this guide, we will cover everything - from the benefits of quinoa, the basics about cooking quinoa, types of quinoa available and some different recipes that use this versatile ingredient!

What is quinoa?

benefits of quinoa

Quinoa is an ancient grain that is part of the spinach family. It looks like a grain, tastes like a cereal and is cooked like rice or pasta. Because it is gluten-free, quinoa is very popular with people who are allergic to wheat products. The quinoa seed has been around for 8,000 years and is known to be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Today, quinoa is grown in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Nutritional data per 100g of quinoa

KCALProteinCarbohydrates SugarFibreFats
Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168917/nutrients

The benefits of quinoa

La quinoa suele denominarse “superalimento” por sus numerosos beneficios para la salud. Es rica en proteínas y contiene carbohidratos de buena calidad, fibra, vitaminas B, hierro, magnesio y zinc. A diferencia de la mayoría de los cereales, que se componen principalmente de hidratos de carbono, la quinoa se compone primarily composed of protein [1].

It's also an unusual plant in that it contains all nine essential amino acids, which makes it a very popular grain among vegetarians or vegans who are looking for a protein source that isn’t derived from an animal.

1. It's exceptionally high in protein

Quinoa contains around 8g of protein per cooked cup (185g), so if you eat a portion of two cups this will equate to approximately 16g of protein in just one meal [2]. This is a fantastic to satisfy your daily requirement of protein, which is around 0.8g for eash kilo you weigh [3].

To put that into perspective, one cup of cooked brown rice contains 4.52g of protein and white rice only 4.32g [4, 5].

2. It can help you lose weight

Quinoa is packed with protein and loaded with essential amino acids and fiber, so as well as being very nutritius will also help you feel fuller for longer. This means you'll be less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks in-between meals.

It's also relatively low in calories, One cup of quinoa contains only 222 calories, which is comparable to brown rice.

3. It contains healthy fats

The fats that are found in quinoa are mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats - good fats that are essential to a healthy diet. These types of fats - like Omega 3 and 6 - are beneficial for your health and can help to lower your risk of heart disease [6].

A cup of quinoa (185g) contains approximately 3.5g of fat.

How much fat should you have in your diet?

The WHO recommends that adults should get approximately 20%-35% of their daily calories from these healthy fats. So, if you're an adult woman that's between 400-700 calories. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, so on the low end, aim for 44g of fat (15 to 20 percent of your total calorie intake per day be from monounsaturated fats, 5 to 10 percent from polyunsaturated fats, less than 10 percent from saturated fats and 0 percent from trans fats) [7, 8, 9].

3. Helps relieve constipation

Quinoa’s a good source of magnesium and manganese, as well as dietary fiber. This makes it beneficial for vegetarians because these nutrients are not commonly found in low-fat plant foods. The dietary fiber makes quinoa helpful in maintaining regularity and preventing constipation.

One 100g portion of cooked quinoa contains 2.8g of dietary fiber [10]. The DRA of fiber is 25g for women and 38g for men, so a one-cup serving of quinoa equates to roughly 20% of a woman's daily recommended intake and 14% of a man's. - which is a lot! [11]

4. Can help strengthen your immune system

Quinoa contains a unique combination of antioxidants which can help our bodies stay healthy by fighting off free radical damage. This also helps the body eliminate harmful toxins that contribute to chronic diseases and infections, so it's great for maintaining good health! [12].

5. Can be suitable for celiacs or gluten-intolerant people

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, so can be suitable for celiacs or gluten-intolerant people. That said, not all quinoa is processed correctly. Depending on the brand, there can be some risk for contamination with wheat during the growth cycle of the plant.

if you are celiac or gluten-intolerant, you need to be careful about the brands you choose and how it is processed. Look for quinoa that is certified gluten-free by an organization like the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) or the Celiac Sprue Association. Also, make sure to read the ingredients list carefully to ensure that there is no wheat flour listed.

6. It has a unique combination of B-Vitamins

B-vitamins are critical in energy production, help form red blood cells and maintain healthy skin, muscle tone and brain function [13].

Quinoa contains all eight essential B-vitamins (pantothenic acid, pyridoxine [B6], thiamine [B1], riboflavin [B2], niacin, folic acid, cobalamin [B12] and biotin) but in moderate amounts [14].

For vegetarians, vegetarians who are ovo-lacto vegetarians or lacto vegetarians (no meat, fish or poultry), and others who do not eat eggs or dairy products, quinoa is especially useful because it's the only plant food that is a significant source of all eight of these vitamins.

All B-vitamins are heat sensitive; extended cooking will destroy the vitamin content of any food. To preserve these essential nutrients, it is recommended that quinoa be rinsed thoroughly under running water before cooking, and the pot should be covered at all times during cooking. After cooking, the quinoa can be simmered uncovered for a few minutes to evaporate any remaining liquid.

One cup of quinoa (185g) contains:

Vitamin% DRA for Adult Women - 185g of Cooked Quinoa)% DRA for Adult Men - 185g of Cooked Quinoa)
(185g de Quinoa Cocida)
Vitamin B218.5%15.7%
Vitamin B617.5%17.5%
Vitamin B117%17%
Fuente: USDA

Why are B-Vitamins important for our health?

Vitamina B2 | 18.5% CDR (mujeres) <> 15.7% (hombres)


Riboflavin helps boost energy and also functions as an antioxidant for the for the immune system to work correctly, as well as for healthy skin and hair [15].

The DRA of riboflavin for adult women is 1.1mg and for men it's 1.3mg [16]. One cup of quinoa contains 0.204mg of riboflavin, equating to approximately 18.5 of the DRA for women and 15.7% for men [17].

Vitamin B& | 17.5% DRA (men and women)


La vitamina B6 es responsable de más de 100 reacciones enzimáticas relacionadas con el metabolismo. La falta de vitamina B6 puede provocar problemas como fatiga, depresión y anemia [18] También es importante para el desarrollo del cerebro durante el embarazo y la infancia y ayuda a mantener un sistema inmunitario sano [19]. The DRA for adult men and women is 1.3mg [20].

One cup of quinoa provides 0.228mg of vitamin b6, which equals approximately 17.5% of our daily intake [21].

Vitamin B1 | 17% DRA (men and women)


The DRA for thiamin or vitamin B1 is 1.1mg for women and 1.2mg for men. Thiamine helps convert food into energy and is important for the correct functioning of the body's cells [22].

In a one cup serving of quinoa there is 0.198mg of thiamin, which is roughly 17% of our daily recommended intake [23]

7. Can help contribute to strong and healthy bones

Quina has a high level of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium and is very important for your health. Phosphorus and calcium work together to keep teeth and bones healthy and help muscles recover after being subjected to stress, reducing muscle soreness after a workout [24, 25].

A cup of quinoa provides 281mg of phosphorus. The DRA of phosphorus is 700mg for adult men and women, meaning that one serving is roughly 40% of your daily recommended intake [26, 27].

What about calcium?

Beware of articles overstating quinoa’s calcium content. In fact, 185g of quinoa cooked provides 31.2g of calcium according to the USDA, which equates to only 3.12% of an adult's daily recommended intake (the DRA of calcium for adults is 1000mg) [28, 29].

Si lo comparamos con lo que se consideran alimentos y bebidas con un “alto contenido en calcio”, como la leche de vaca entera, que aporta 300mg de calcio en una sola taza, no es muy significativo [30].

8. Has a high iron content

A lack of iron is often one of the most common nutrition deficiencies. Iron is essential to the formation of red blood cells that transport oxygen around our body, as well as proteins involved in cell growth and repair. It also helps produce neurotransmitters and hormones [31].

The daily recommended intake of iron for women is 18g, while for men it's 8g [32]. One 100g portion of cooked quinoa provides 1.48mg, so a one-cup serving size (185g) provides around 15% of the RDA for women [33].

9. It's a great source of manganese

% CDR para mujeres Adultos en 185g de quinoa cocida % CDR para hombres Adultos en 185g de quinoa cocida
Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Manganeso | 64% CDR (mujeres) <> 51% CDR (hombres)


Managanese is a little-known yet incredibly important mineral for your health. Your body uses manganese for energy production and to help protect your cells from damage. It's important for bone health, reproduction, blood clotting, and maintaining a healthy immune system [34]. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism [35].

The DRA for women is 1.8mg and for men 2.3g [36]. One cup (185g) of quinoa provides 1.17mg of manganese, equating to approximately 64% of the DRA for women and 51% for men [37].

10. It's high in folate

Folate | 19% DRA (men and women)


Our body uses folate to create new cells. Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate found in supplements commonly used during pregnancy. Folic acid plays an important role in fetal development [38].

The DRA of folate for adults is 400mcg. For pregnant women it is 600mcg [39]. One cup of quinoa provides 77.7mcg - 19% of the DRA for adults.

11. It's a good source of zinc

Zinc | 18% CDR (mujeres) <> 27.5% (hombres)


Zinc helps wounds heal, maintains a healthy immune system and helps your sense of taste and smell. It also helps produce DNA, RNA and proteins as well as cells needed for growth and repair [40].

The DRA of zinc for women is 12mg and for men 8mg [41]. One cup of quinoa contains approximately 2.02mg of Zinc - about 18% of the DRA for women and 27.5% for men [42].

12. It's high in copper

Copper | 39% DRA (men and women)


Copper is integral to wound healing and skin health, and plays a role in collagen production. It also carries out a number of other important functions in the body related to energy production, immune function and brain development [43, 44].

The DRA for adults is 900mcg. One cup of quinoa provides 355mcg of copper, which is 39.4% of the DRA for adults [45].

13. It's easy to add to your diet

Quinoa has a mild, nutty flavor and can be used in place of rice or other grains. You can also use quinoa in salads or as a side dish. You can also use quinoa flour to make pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods.

Types of quinoa

When you're shopping for quinoa, it's important to know what type you are buying because they all have different textures and flavors when cooked. There are three main types: white/ivory, red and black.

The Quinoa quinoa is the most commonly found in grocery stores and has a mild flavor. It is great for using in salads and side dishes or as part of a main meal when paired with other flavors like spices, vegetables and meat.

The Red quinoa has a slightly nuttier taste than white/ivory, but still cooks the same way.

The Black quinoa looks similar to blueberries when cooked which makes it a great alternative to white or red quinoa. It is good for making salads and desserts due to its slightly crunchy texture when cooked.

How to cook quinoa

There are so many ways that quinoa can be prepared and it's easy to add this grain to any meal, even breakfast!

The most popular methods to cook quinoa are either on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. Other ways include using a slow cooker and pressure cooker, but this isn't as common due to potential overcooking issues that may occur. It can also be cooked in the microwave.


Quinoa cooks much like rice, with a ratio of one cup quinoa to two cups water.

  1. Bring to a boil in a saucepan and stir in the quinoa.
  2. Hervir durante unos 15 minutos hasta que el germen se separe de la semilla. Una vez que esto ocurra, verás que se ha formado una “cola” en cada grano – se parecerá un poco a una pequeña cola blanca.
  3. Drain the liquid from the quinoa and place it in a pot or bowl, covered with a towel to allow it to steam for 5-10 minutes.

Quinoa recipes

Salads are a great way to enjoy quinoa, since the seed has a relatively bland flavor. The mild flavor of the seed pairs well with many different vegetables and dressings in salads. An easy way to get lots of quinoa into your diet is to use it to substitute rice with your favourite dishes.

Quinoa can be used in all sorts of dishes, but it's especially great for desserts! There are many recipes that include quinoa flour because this ingredient is gluten-free and lower carb than traditional wheat flours. This makes it a healthier alternative to use in cookies or cakes which taste just as delicious when they're baked with quinoa flour!

Quinoa's also easy to add to stews, soups and casseroles.

Quinoa salad

Salad ingredients:

  • Cooked quinoa
  • Salad onion, finely chopped
  • Red pepper, diced
  • Green pepper, diced
  • Green beans, cut in half and boiled for 5 minutes. Thoroughly drained.
  • Carrot, shredded
  • Cucumber

Dressing ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the salad ingredients together. Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. Pour dressing over the salad and enjoy!

Quinoa pesto


  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups of basil (fresh)
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2-1 tsp of chilli flakes (optional)

Cook the quinoa as per these instructions.Place the remaining ingredients ina food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste.
Stir in to your favourite pasta and voilá!


Caty is a blogger and ISSA-certified personal trainer. She loves writing about health and nutrition.

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