While quinoa has been used as a staple food grain for centuries in many South American countries, it is a relative newcomer to North America. This tiny seed has a nutty flavor and is a versatile addition to dishes which use rice.
It has higher protein content than most grains and is a great addition to vegetarian diets.
Quinoa contains all amino acids required by the body, especially lysine that is critical for growth and repair of body tissues. It also contains high quantities of iron, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium and copper.
Quinoa is easy to cook but needs to be washed thoroughly before use to get rid of the bitter coating of saponin on the grains. It is quick to cook, requiring just 15 minutes of cooking time.
Quinoa is higher in monounsaturated heart-healthy fats than most other cereals. It also contains small traces of omega-3 fatty acids. Recent studies have found that quinoa does not oxidize and lose nutritional value after steaming, simmering or boiling.
The FAO realizing the nutritional value of quinoa has declared 2013 as “The International Year of the Quinoa”. This could make people more aware of the important role quinoa has to play in achieving food security worldwide.
Brown rice refers to regular rice grain from which only the outer hull is removed.
This retains the nutritional value compared to white rice. It is the polishing and milling of brown rice to convert it to white rice that kills most of the vitamins and minerals in it.
Brown rice is an excellent source of manganese, selenium, magnesium and tryptophan. Manganese found in brown rice has anti-oxidant properties.
The high fiber content in brown rice means that it helps with weight loss. Most diets do not contain selenium.
The selenium content in brown rice helps with DNA repair, reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancer and is an anti-oxidant. Brown rice can also help lower cholesterol levels.
Nutritional Comparison of Quinoa and Brown Rice
Both brown rice and quinoa are high in nutritional content. Let us see the nutritional value for each.
A single serving of cooked long-grain brown rice of 195g has the following nutritional profile.
- Calories – 216
- Calories from fat – 15
- Total fat - 2g (3% DV)
- Saturated fat - 0g (2% DV)
- Cholesterol - 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium 10mg - (0% DV)
- Total carbohydrates - 45g (15% DV)
- Dietary fiber 4g - (14% DV)
- Sugars – 1g
- Protein - 8g (48% DV)
- Vitamin A - 0%
- Vitamin C - 0%
- Calcium - 2%
- Iron - 5%
This grain is considered a good source of selenium and manganese. It is low in cholesterol, sodium and saturated fats.
The following is a nutritional profile of cooked quinoa.
For a serving size of 185g
- Calories 222
- Calories from fat 32
- Total fat 4g (16% DV)
- Saturated fat (0% DV)
- Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium 13mg (1% DV)
- Total carbohydrates 39g (13% DV)
- Dietary fiber 5g (21% DV)
- Protein 8g (48% DV)
- Vitamin A 0%
- Vitamin C 0%
- Calcium 3%
- Iron 15%
DV refers to percent daily value that is based on 2000 calorie diet. Each person’s DV will vary depending on daily needs.
Quinoa is very low in sodium and cholesterol and low in saturated fats. It is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, folate and manganese.
Brown rice is more widely used than quinoa and is readily available. However, these days, you can find many health food stores and local markets where packaged and bulk quinoa is available.
In a comparison of nutritional values, the USDA has stated that 1 cup of brown rice has – 215 calories, 1.75g fat, 5g protein, 3.5g fiber, 1g natural sugar and 45g carbohydrates. A similar quantity of quinoa contains - 220 calories, 3.5g fat, 8g protein, 5g fiber and 39.5g carbohydrates.
Brown rice is lower in fat content but has lesser quantities of both dietary fiber and protein per serving. Quinoa is a complete protein with all essential amino acids and in this respect is superior to brown rice with lesser quantities of protein.
Quinoa cooks faster than brown rice and has a milder flavor.
Brown rice has a chewy texture and nutty flavor and takes longer to chew and digest. Both brown rice and quinoa can replace other cereals and grains. Brown rice takes longer to cook – at least 45 minutes – while quinoa requires just 15 minutes cooking time.
Both brown rice and quinoa are excellent food choices. Use them in a wide range of recipes and enjoy their nutritive value and great taste.