Quinoa comes from South America and has been used by humans for 7,000 years. The seeds are often referred to as Inca grain or Inca rice, as they were the staple food of the Incas for a long time. Peru is currently the largest producer. Quinoa became popular in Europe in the 1990s.
In recent years, quinoa has experienced its hype in healthy and sustainable nutrition, as a superfood. The reason is not only the quinoa calories, but also the variety of nutrients that this superfood offers to the consumer.
Depending on whether you access light or dark seeds, the nutritional values and calories of quinoa differ slightly. Quinoa has a fairly neutral and fresh taste, which makes it easy to incorporate it into different recipes. It's filling and nutritious. Quinoa can also be flaked and contorted as an alternative to oatmeal.
the essentials in brief
- Quinoa is rich in important nutrients for humans and has positive effects on health. The specialists have called the seeds functional food.
- Other than the protein content, the calorie content of quinoa is not very high compared to other conventional grains. In addition, the superfood keeps you full for a long time and is easy to digest, so quinoa is very well suited for a conscious diet.
- Whether for desserts or salty dishes, the quinoa seeds can be used universally due to their mild taste. Each type of quinoa has a slightly different taste.
How many calories does quinoa actually have?: What you should know
Nowadays, the discussion about healthy eating is very dynamic and goes in many directions. For many, calorie content plays an essential role in their diet. Solutions for more sustainable nutrition are being sought.
When searching, more and more almost forgotten foods, such as ancient grains, are used. As a result, more and more attention has been paid to quinoa and its calories and nutrients.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is classified by most as a grain. You can also often find quinoa on the grain shelves in supermarkets. Or on the shelves with health food. But what exactly is quinoa? Quinoa are seeds that come from the plant of the same name, quinoa.
This plant has its origins in South America in the Andean regions and has been cultivated in the Andes for over 7000 years. It grows from sea level up to 4,500 m (15,000 ft)(1). One study showed that the growing area and climatic conditions of the quinoa plant can affect seed yield as well as the nutritional quality of the seeds(2).
Quinoa belongs to the foxtail family like spinach or beetroot.
Quinoa is often referred to as an ancient grain, but it belongs to the foxtail family. Because of the unusual balance between oil, protein and fat, quinoa is also known as a pseudocereal(1).
Inca rice can be used very universally as a pseudocereal. In addition, quinoa is high in nutrients and relatively low in calories. Due to the special taste, the superfood is integrated into countless recipes. (Image source: Rafael Ishkhanyan / unsplash)
Due to the mild and fresh taste, quinoa can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. Depending on the type of quinoa, you can incorporate it into starters, main courses, desserts and your snacks. There are over 120 species, the best-known species in Germany are white, red and black quinoa. The Inca grain is also commercially available in other forms, such as puffed quinoa or flakes.
What are the nutritional values of quinoa?
Quinoa is also called a superfood and rightly so. This food, which is thousands of years old, contains many valuable nutrients. In terms of calories, quinoa is on par with the same amount of rice, at around 360 kilocalories per 100 grams.
Quinoa stands out from many grains because of its complex carbohydrates and high protein content. The protein is very high quality thanks to the excellent balance of essential amino acids (3). One study confirmed that the amount of essential amino acids in quinoa is higher than in conventional grains(4).
- Carbohydrates: The quasi ancient grain has complex carbohydrates. These are easy to digest and keep you full for longer.
- Dietary fiber: The effects of dietary fiber also contribute to longer satiety and good digestion.
- Protein: Quinoa is high in protein at around 15%(5).
- Fats: The superfood contains a large proportion of unsaturated fatty acids.
- Mineral: Inca rice contains a wide range of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and copper(6).
- Amino Acids: Quinoa contains essential amino acids such as lysine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, histidine, and methionine(1).
- Vitamins: Since superfood contains some vitamins like vitamin C, A, B1, B12 or E.
In terms of nutritional values, preparation plays an important role. Scientists have found that different cooking methods improve nutritional quality, essential amino acid levels, fatty acid composition and glucose release(7).
Quinoa can also be ground as an alternative to traditional flour.
A study shows that milling quinoa seeds results in the elimination of seeds and embryos, resulting in a loss of 50% of minerals and 60% of protein content. That's why you should also think about the state in which you eat the superfood(8).
When it comes to the nutritional values of quinoa seeds, origin also plays an important role. Since the cultivation of the superfood has expanded geographically significantly in recent decades, the difficulty of quality assurance exists outside the Andes(9). The nutritional values of the different types of quinoa differ significantly in some cases due to their origin(10).
How many calories does quinoa have?
Basically, we could say that quinoa doesn't have many calories. With this superfood, the preparation influences its calorie content. The quinoa calories differ when raw and when cooked.
This is due to the fact that the seeds absorb a lot of water during cooking and thus become larger. The table below shows the average nutritional values of white quinoa, as this is the most common in Germany. The information relates to quinoa in its raw state.
|average nutritional values||per 100 grams|
|of which sugars||2g|
Basically, the calorie content of quinoa is not very different from that of other pseudocereals or grains. When cooked, quinoa has a much lower calorie content per 100 grams because it absorbs a lot of water during cooking.
Do All Types of Quinoa Have the Same Calories?
Long inconspicuous, quinoa has more than 120 species, according to botanists and nutritionists. The individual types of quinoa differ mainly in terms of colour, taste and firmness to the bite.
Quinoa has over 120 species. In addition to the three most well-known colors, white, red and black, the species cover various color mixtures in between. In addition to the color, there are also differences in the taste and the firmness of the seeds. (Image source: Pierre Bamin / unsplash)
The species in turn contain around 1,800 other varieties. The most well-known types in Germany are the white or light, red and black quinoa.
- White quinoa: This type is the best known in Germany. Compared to the red and black Inca rice, the white quinoa has significantly fewer calories per 100 grams. It has the mildest flavor that is slightly nutty. Thus, the white quinoa can be used well in savory dishes as well as in desserts. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to prepare.
- Red Quinoa: Red quinoa has a distinct flavor of its own. This one is nuttier and quite spicy. The red Inca rice is more aromatic than the white or black. The grains remain firm in structure even after cooking, which makes this type very suitable for risotto. This quinoa can also be combined with different dishes, and its stronger aroma makes it very suitable for salads or other cereals. Red quinoa takes about 5 minutes longer to cook than white quinoa.
- Black quinoa: Black quinoa is the most difficult to find in supermarkets. The chance is higher in delis or health food stores. Black quinoa is cultivated in smaller quantities. She just has an earthy taste. The special thing about these black seeds is that they remain al dente even after they have been cooked for a long time. Basically, the cooking time is about 20 to 25 minutes.
Each of the quinoa types mentioned has a different special feature. Whether you choose white, red, or black quinoa depends on your taste preferences and nutritional awareness.
Of course, the calorie content also plays an important role in a calorie-conscious diet. The following table gives an overview of how much the quinoa calorie content of the most well-known types in Germany is on average.
|average nutritional values||White quinoa||Red quinoa||Black quinoa|
|Calories per 100 grams||360 calories||402 calories||402 calories|
|of which sugars||2g||7.4g||7.4g|
The values in the table should serve as an overview. The information refers to the raw state of the Inca rice. The calorie, fat, carbohydrate or protein content varies depending on the country of origin. Since the different climatic conditions have a significant influence on the ingredients of the quinoa plants.
How healthy is quinoa?
More and more people pay close attention to what they eat and attach great importance to a healthy and sustainable diet. Old and almost forgotten foods are used and their benefits rediscovered. One of these is quinoa.
What makes this South American seed special is not only the wide range of nutrients it offers, but also the fact that it is alkaline. In this way, too, it is a very welcome addition to our over-acidified foods today.
Quinoa is often referred to as an ancient grain because of its long history, even though it is not a grain. As such, quinoa provides many important nutrients that positively affect health and the immune system. Amaranth and buckwheat, which are basically grains, are also called ancient grains. (Image source: Denise Johnson / unsplash)
This superfood is also gluten-free . Many gluten-free products available are of lower quality and nutritional value. Along with amaranth and buckwheat, quinoa is proving to be a healthy gluten-free alternative due to its higher protein, fat, fiber, and mineral content(11).
More and more studies are looking into the potential and effects of consuming quinoa on human health and well-being. Quinoa's calorie count is overshadowed by its nutrients. Since the food, which originates from Andean regions, is rich in nutrients, it has also been referred to as "functional food". Quinoa owes its name to its mineral, vitamin, fatty acid and antioxidant content(1).
The Inca grain improves the immune system, helps in muscle gain and protects against heart and circulatory problems (12). In addition, the consumption of quinoa has a significantly positive effect on metabolism and digestion(13).
Quinoa also has toxic ingredients.
It is important to note that the quinoa plant does not only contain beneficial ingredients. The seeds are protected from pests in a bowl. This contains bitter saponins that could damage the intestinal lining and blood cells.
Therefore, the grains must definitely be in a shelled state before eating. It is also important to wash quinoa very well before preparation so that any remaining saponins are washed away.
Can You Lose Calories With Quinoa?
When it comes to weight loss and a calorie-conscious diet, quinoa is a great choice. Inca rice contains complex carbohydrates that the human body has to break down. These are better utilized by the body than simple carbohydrates.
You'll also feel fuller longer after you've distorted it. Despite being full for a long time, quinoa is easy to digest. The calorie content of quinoa is not particularly different from that of other conventional grains and pseudo-grains.
Regarding the quinoa species, white quinoa has significantly less fat, carbohydrates and calories and compared to red and black seeds, it is more suitable for a calorie-controlled diet. The seeds of the quinoa plant contain a high protein content, which makes eating the superfood ideal alongside athletic performance.
What is the calorie content of other grains as an alternative to the pseudo-grain quinoa?
Due to the increasing awareness of quinoa, more and more people are turning to the superfood. It's a welcome alternative to rice.
Although quinoa is not significantly different from other grains and pseudo-grains, with about 360 calories per 100 grams, the Inca grain stands out due to its richness in nutrients. Nevertheless, it is important and interesting to have an overview of the calorie content of the alternatives.
|Groceries||Type||with / without gluten||Calories per 100 grams|
|couscous||Grain||with gluten||345 calories|
|bulgur||Grain||with gluten||358 calories|
|oatmeal||grain||with gluten||366 calories|
|basmati rice||Grain||gluten-free||363 calories|
|brown rice||Grain||gluten-free||352 calories|
As can be seen from the table, when raw, there are not very large differences in calories within the table. The calorie content is not the only important factor in relation to all the alternatives to the incircle mentioned. The nutrients of each grain also need to be considered. In addition, the origin of these foods is also important.
The Inca rice brings with it a number of benefits. Due to the wide range of important nutrients, the superfood is attracting more and more attention. Essentially, quinoa's calories are not high and are overshadowed by other benefits.
As can be seen from some studies, the composition of high protein content, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids has a positive impact on human health.
Quinoa can be universally integrated into the dishes. You can make sweet, salty or savory foods with the Inca grain. It is important to discover the right type of quinoa seeds for yourself, as they differ in taste and consistency.
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- Tang, Yao & Tsao, Rong. (2017). Phytochemicals in quinoa and amaranth grains and their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potential health beneficial effects: A review. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 61. 1600767. 10.1002/mnfr.201600767. Source
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- Abugoch James LE. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.): composition, chemistry, nutritional, and functional properties. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2009;58:1-31. doi: 10.1016/S1043-4526(09)58001-1. PMID: 19878856. Source
- Jenny Ruales, Baboo M. Nair: Content of fat, vitamins and minerals in quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, Willd) seeds. Food Chemistry. Volume 48. Issue 2, 1993. Pages 131-136. ISSN 0308-8146. https://doi.org/10.1016/0308-8146(93)90047-J Source
- Wu L, Wang A, Shen R, Qu L. Effect of processing on the contents of amino acids and fatty acids, and glucose release from the starch of quinoa. Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Jul 21;8(9):4877-4887. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.1775. PMID: 32994949; PMCID: PMC7500770. Source
- Mhada M, Metougui ML, El Hazzam K, El Kacimi K, Yasri A. Variations of Saponins, Minerals and Total Phenolic Compounds Due to Processing and Cooking of Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) Seeds. foods 2020 May 20;9(5):660. doi: 10.3390/foods9050660. PMID: 32443894; PMCID: PMC7278802. Source
- Bazile D, Jacobsen SE and Verniau A (2016) The Global Expansion of Quinoa: Trends and Limits. Front. Plant Sci. 7:622. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00622 Source
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