Quinoa Nutrition Facts

There is no doubt that quinoa nutrition facts are impressive!  Let’s take a closer look at just why quinoa has been called a super food and a super grain by experts everywhere.

In fact, New Crops Agronomist Dr. Duane Johnson has said “If I had to choose one food to survive on, quinoa would be the best.”

As it turns out, quinoa may be the ultimate survival food because it has everything that your body needs – fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fat, carbohydrates and protein.

What you need to know about quinoa nutrition!how to cook quinoa

Quinoa is NOT a Grain!

Though you will very often hear quinoa referred to as a “super grain” the fact is that quinoa really is not a grain at all!  It is an ancient seed that is in the same family as spinach (Chenopodiaceae).  If you were to classify quinoa correctly, the proper term would be a “pseudo cereal” or “pseudo grain”.

Quinoa Protein Stands Above the Rest!

Quinoa is quite simply one of the best plant based protein sources you can hope to find!

Although it does indeed have a lot of protein, it’s the quality not the quantity that is so impressive.

We often hear that plant based proteins are inferior, because they are incomplete.   When looking at nutrition facts, quinoa is unique for a vegetarian protein in that it contains eight essential amino acids our bodies need in order to function properly.  These are substances that we must get from food, because we cannot produce them on our own.

The vast majority of plant based foods come up short when it comes to amino acits. Most grains do not contain lysine, which is an amino acid that is essential for cellular repair.  Legumes, on the other hand, come up short in cysteine and methionine.This isn’t the case with quinoa!  Quinoa is a complete protein source which delivers our bodies an almost perfect cocktail of amino acids.

Many people believe that quinoa is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has compared the nutritional profile and protein quality of quinoa to that dried whole milk. Surprisingly, quinoa is just as rich in calcium as milk is as well.  The obvious benefit of quinoa over milk is that it provides your body with fiber and is cholesterol free!

Is Quinoa Gluten Free?

Not only is it nutrient-packed,quinoa is also gluten-free and wheat-free, making it very attractive to people who are gluten intolerant or who have wheat allergies.  Quinoa flour can be used in gluten free baking, and is a great way to add extra nutrition to baked goods.  Additionally, quinoa pasta is a great alternative for those looking to make gluten free pasta dishes.

The impressive quinoa nutrition facts don’t end here!

Quinoa is a great source of iron, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, copper, phosphorous, tryptophan, B6, niacin and thiamine.  One cup of cooked quinoa has only 220 calories.  It also has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.  (The protein content can vary some)  If you team quinoa up with black bean recipes, you can get your daily fiber all in one meal!

The vegetable protein found in quinoa is much easier to digest than meat protein and the slow releasing carbohydrates help maintain blood sugar levels and keep you fuller longer. Quinoa is free of cholesterol and trans fats making it a great part of a heart healthy diet.

Quinoa is a great way for those who struggle with anemia to get some extra iron.  Additionally, it is a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, B vitamins, B6, Niacin and Thiamine.

Quinoa & Migraines

Recently, I read Jillian Michaels The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook.  She discuses quinoa nutritional facts and I was surprised to learn that quinoa may actually help people fight migraines.  This is because the magnesium in quinoa works to relax your blood vessels.  This prevents constriction and dilation that comes along with migraines.  Studies have shown that when you increase the amount of magnesium that you consume that the frequency in which you experience migraines will go down.  The riboflavin in quinoa may also help migraine sufferers.    Energy production in cells relies on riboflavin.  Research has shown us that it may improve the energy metabolism in the brain and decrease the frequency of migraine attacks.  I don’t know about you but when I’m trying to eat healthy the quinoa nutrition facts leave me feeling pretty good about myself!

Quinoa Nutrition at a Glance

Nutrients per 1 cup of Cooked Quinoa (Quinoa nutritional profile can vary depending on the saponin removal method.  The level of protein can especially vary ranging from 7% to 22%.)

Calories 220
Protein 8 g
Carbohydrates 40 g
Total Fat 3.5 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 13 mg
Fiber 5.2 g
Calcium 31 mg
Zinc 2 mg
Iron 2.75 mg
Magnesium 120 mg

The Amino Acid Profile of Quinoa



Isoleucine        4.0

Leucine           6.8

Lysine             5.1

Phenylalanine 4.6

Tyrosine          3.8

Cystine            2.4

Methionine      2.2

Threonine        3.7

Tryptophan      1.2

Valine              4.8


Quite simply, quinoa is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet!  Vegans in particular should consider cooking quinoa, because it is a great way to get the amino acids that are missing in many other grains. It also has a higher protein content than any grain. Quinoa recipes are generally quite healthy and can be incorporated into any diet.  In addition to looking for a new quinoa recipe, you can also try substituting the seed for rice are couscous in your favorite recipes.  Check out more on how to cook quinoa!

If you would like to purchase quinoa but are unable to buy it at your local grocery store, you can buy quinoa online!

  • apobib

    what is the gr. weight of a cup of cooked quinoa?

  • Jane

    Can you freeze cooked quinoa?

    • Wendy Polisi

      Yes, you sure can.  You can also keep it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  (Assuming it isn't already mixed with something that would go bad.)

  • Daphne Wynter Gray

    I just cooked quinoa for the first time tonight and I am a convert. this stuff is delicious. My husbands dietitian suggested it to us to have to replace with rice. My husband really loved it. I cooked it in some beef broth and it was a bit to rich for me after less the 1/2 cup however my husband thought it was perfect.
    Howe does quinoa bake in things like cookie recipes? is there a recipe site for stuff like that?

  • Laura

    Doesn't it take 9 amino acids to make a full protein. Adding black beans is a good idea for the fiber, but more importantly the protein.

    • Wendy Polisi

      I’ve seen it both listed as eight essential amino acids and nine, but most health experts agree that there are only eight essential amino acids. They are:
      There are also four amino acids where are “conditionally” essential. They are:
      Quinoa is indeed a complete protein and studies have also shown that it is a highly digestible protein. Adding black beans isn’t necessary at all from a protein stand point but it sure is yummy!

  • Joyce

    I recently discovered quinoa, and have made one dish so far, I am excited to make some pudding with it as the texture reminds me of tapioca. I subscribed to your newsletter, thanks for the free cook book, can't wait to use it. I am also writing a blog on the topic, and will be including a link to your site, thanks.
    My recent post It's Not Organic

    • Wendy Polisi

      You are welcome Joyce! Thanks for stopping by!

  • mary murray

    I just tried it an it was great.

  • Rachel P

    Where can I buy quinoa?

  • Wendy Polisi

    So sorry to hear about your loss.

    If you have access to a Whole Foods their bulk bins are one of the cheapest ways to buy quinoa. (Assuming no one in the family is celiac.) Costco is another great option. If you don’t have access to either of those I would try natural food stores that have bulk bins or Amazon. Hope this helps!