Quinoa vs. Rice: a Health Comparison

Brown rice has traditionally been considered one of the healthiest sources of carbohydrates, but over the past decade, the popularity of quinoa has risen considerably. Everyone from celebrity chefs to gourmet delis now tout its substantial health attributes. Alongside chia seeds, goji berries and acai, quinoa is considered one of the world’s nutritious foods – above all because it contains all nine essential amino acids – an attribute that few plant-based foods can lay claim to. If you love both of these foods but wonder to what extent their nutritional attributes differ, you’ll be interested in discovering why there is room for both in your diet if you want to achieve lasting health and wellbeing. Since health is the focus, the information below will discuss brown rice exclusively, since white rice is devoid of significant nutritional value. it has a higher nutritional profile.

Fiber Content

Fiber is a crucial component of a healthy diet, with one of its most important functions being that of promoting the growth of healthy gut microbiota. Both brown rice and quinoa contain around a fifth of the recommended daily amount of fiber. Brown rice is the winner in this race, with a little over six grams per cup compared to five grams for quinoa. Of course, the difference isn’t significant, and you can always make it up by adding a serving of vegetables to your favorite quinoa dish. When comparing quinoa to other grains, bear in mind that it contains almost twice the amount of fiber as other grains. Because fiber makes you feel full, it helps prevent cravings for unhealthy foods.

Protein for Muscle Building

Who said that the only source of good protein was lean meat? Quinoa is right up there with the best protein sources, since as mentioned above, it contains all the essential acids the body needs to build muscle, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. The USDA nutrient database reports that one cup of cooked quinoa has around 8.14 grams of protein (around 1/6th or 1/7th of the recommended daily amount). One cup of cooked brown rice, meanwhile, has only 5.5 grams. Quinoa is by far the more protein-rich grain!

Both Quinoa and Brown Rice 

One interesting nutritional fact that quinoa and brown rice share is that, unlike many other plant-based foods, they are not high in amines. Amines are chemicals that occur naturally in food, caused by bacteria that break down amino acids. Amines can cause migraines when consumed in excess or by someone with an amine sensitivity since they can cause the heart to work harder than usual and lead to blood vessel constriction. Some foods high in amines include cheese, chocolate, wines, fish, bananas, tomatoes, broad beans, and avocados.  

Carbohydrate Count

If you are trying to cut down the amount of carbohydrates you consume, rejoice to know that one cup of cooked brown rice has around 52 grams of total carbohydrates, while quinoa has just 39 grams.

Although low-carbohydrate diets vary in the amount of total carbohydrates permitted, a Tulane University review defines low-carb diets are generally those allowing no more than around 225 grams of carbohydrates per day. While both brown rice and quinoa can help you maintain a low carb diet, quinoa is significantly lower in carbohydrates than its counterpart. Although both brown rice and quinoa can be eaten as part of a low carb diet, quinoa is significantly lower in carbs, making it easier for you to stay under your daily carbohydrate goals. 

Calorie Counts

Quinoa and brown rice are both excellent additions to a healthy nutritional regime, since they are relatively low-calorie considering how fantastically full they can help you feel. One cup of brown rice has around 248 calories per serving and just two grams of fat. One cup of quinoa, meanwhile, has 222 calories and 3.6 grams of fat. 

In addition to the above facts, the micronutrient and vitamin contents of each food is also important to consider. Quinoa is rich in Vitamin B6, thiamin, potassium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, magnesium, folate, and riboflavin. Brown rice, meanwhile, has Vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, thiamine, and selenium.

While both rice and quinoa have many nutritional similarities, adding quinoa into your daily routine could make it easier for you to reach your protein goals, and maintain a healthy level of vital nutrients. 


Written by Ali Rennoll.