Quinoa vs Rice

Quinoa vs Rice – Who Wins?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately along the lines of  is quinoa fattening and is quinoa good for you?

Today I thought I would take a break from quinoa recipes and we would have a contest looking at quinoa vs rice and see who wins.

The rules are that the one that provides the greatest amount of significant nutritional and health benefits from a lower quantity gets more points.  Mere presence of a beneficial ingredient will score one point, while a greater amount of the beneficial element will score 1,2,3 … 10 as a comparison.  If Q has 1mg or less of vitamin x and R has 3mg, then Q will score 1 point while R scores 3.  Where one has an ingredient which is absent in the others, the score will be 10 against nil.  The highest score for any constituent will be 10 and the lowest will be 1 for presence.  While the majority of rice consumers eat it white, let us look at both brown and white rice.  Our comparison will be based on 100 grams of the raw edible food.quinoa vs rice The quinoa nutrition facts won’t lie, so lets see who wins!

So here we go – Quinoa vs Rice!

Carbohydrate content – Quinoa vs Rice

This food group is usually taken for granted, but carbohydrates are the fuel that keeps the body working.  Without them, it would be impossible for the body and its systems to carry out the thousands of processes necessary to keep living.  Quinoa contains 63g, brown rice 72.8g, white rice 79g.

Score: quinoa 6, brown rice 7, white rice 8.

Protein content – Quinoa vs Rice

Proteins constitute the building blocks of muscles, tissues, skin, hair and nails.  There cannot be a human being without them.  Proteins also act as a secondary source of energy in the absence of carbohydrates in instances such as starvation.  Quinoa has 13.1g, brown rice 7.5g, white rice 6.6g.

Score: quinoa 10, brown rice 8, white rice 7.

Dietary fiber – Quinoa vs Rice

Fiber is an important component of health giving foods.  Some dietary fiber is soluble and is absorbed into the blood stream where it helps in the reduction of bad cholesterol, LDL.  Insoluble fiber is not absorbed into the bloodstream but it helps keep the digestive system clean by absorbing water and various poisons and travelling with these out as part of the excreta.  Quinoa contains 5.9g, brown rice has 3.4g and white rice has nil.

Score: quinoa 6, brown rice 3, white rice 0.

Fat – Quinoa vs Rice

The two cereals have largely unsaturated fat which has nutritional and health benefits.  Quinoa contains 5.8g, brown rice 2.68g, white rice 0.58g.

Score: quinoa 6, brown rice 3, white rice 1.

Vitamins and minerals – Quinoa vs Rice

These have a wide range of uses within the body.  They help in various metabolic processes, help protect and fight against diseases, aid in digestion and the general maintenance of the body including assimilation of nutrients and other vitamins.  Both quinoa and rice contain a range of vitamins and minerals which we shall score as per the following table.

VITB1mg VIT B2mg NIACINmg VIT B 6mg FOLATEug VIT Eug Calciummg Phosphorousmg Ironmg Potassiummg Zincmg Magnesiummg Score
QUINOA 0.198 0.396 2.93 0.223 49 60 41 9.25 740 3.3 210
Score 2 4 3 2 5 6 1 10 7 3 6 49
BROWN RICE 0.413 0.043 5.91 0.509 20 0.661 33 264 1.8 268 2.02 143
Score 4 1 6 5 2 10 3 5 2 3 2 4 47
WHITE RICE 0.07 0.048 2.88 0.145 9 9 108 0.8 86 1.16 35
Score 1 1 3 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 14

Table of comparison of vitamin and mineral composition per 100gm of raw edible Quinoa, Brown and White Rice

Carbohydrates Proteins Dietary Fiber Fats Vitamins & Minerals Total Score
Quinoa 6 10 6 6 49 77
Brown Rice 7 8 3 3 47 68
White Rice 8 7 0 1 14 30

Scorecard for rating major components of Quinoa, Brown and White Rice

Quinoa and brown rice have similar compositions, however as shown in our table and scorecard, the refining process that produces white rice strips it of more than half its worth.  And real factual figures don’t lie – quinoa nutrition facts are nothing short of stellar.  Side by side, the rice vs quinoa contest has quinoa as the winner.

  • AdrianaC

    just what i was looking for, very well explain and I'm a rice lover, so we'll see how the change goes also with my children.

  • Wendy Polisi

    My boys love quinoa – I think the key is how you prepare it!

  • pebblekeeper

    We prepared it the way you said, soak, slow boil, less water – and presto – the boys love it! Beef Broth too. Thank you so much!

    • Wendy Polisi

      You are so welcome! I'm glad you and your family are enjoying it!

  • Justin THOMPSON

    Yeap I too am a new comer to the Quinoa, I cook my like rice however I like it like a risotto, I cook the Quinoa in the flavouring stock that I want the risotto based on, then once its cooked I remove it from the heat and cook off my additional ingredients to the desired time and add the quinoa back in a dash more stock and a splash of white wine and some parmigiano – reggiano or parmesan crack black pepper and fresh ground salt to taste and finally the herbs (chives or basil or spring onions or mint or thyme) when I serve it a drizzle of “Good” olive oil…. YUMMY and the left overs well it goes good in upturned mushroom caps with a little of melted cheese for lunch the next day!!!!

  • Alice Bordelon

    Thank you for the break-down on Quinoa vs. Rice……..It's just so darn delicious!

  • Chef Luciano

    I prepare a Quinoa Pulao with Carrots, Peas and Cauliflower. I use fresh garlic, ginger and cumin (whole). I have served it with
    Chicken, Fish and Turkey. Tastes great and really is helping me and my friends with ton of health benefits.
    My recent post Hello world!

  • Matt

    Quinoa should have a score of 80 or the other two be lowered by a factor or 3 since you had to considerably drop the protein content.
    Either way, I love the stuff. Easy to cook and its complete amino acid blend is hard to come by!

  • Denise

    Added tip! Thrown in a tiny bit of ghost pepper salt, kidney beans, black peppper, cilantro and 50% chicken broth/ 50% vegetable broth….it beats out plain old white rice, anyday.

  • Belle

    Hi Wendy! I am from the Southeast and rice is my family's staple food, almost everyday we eat rice my question is can I switch quinoa instead of rice? Say we eat 2 cups of rice per day one for lunch and for dinner, will it be healthy to eat quinoa instead of rice like on a daily serving? I just wanted to introduce my family to a healthy eating diet since diabetes runs in both my parents' genes which i'm afraid I might have it if I don't start making healthy diet plan for my family. Thanks for your help.

    • Wendy Polisi

      Yes, that would be a healthy substitution, especially if you are eating white rice. Another thing you could try is to cook them separately and mix them together prior to serving. This is especially helpful with kids who sometimes are resistant to new textures. Good luck on your journey to healthy family eating and let me know if I can help!
      My recent post Exciting Times & Tortilla Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • solubull

    soluble fiber is not absorbed into the bloodstream. the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber is that soluble fiber absorbs water, and insoluble fiber does not. in our guts, soluble fiber forms a gel that adds bulk and mass to digested materials. the method by which soluble fiber lowers cholesterol is unknown, however the most popular theory is that soluble fiber blocks the reabsorbtion of bile salts in the intestines, which causes the liver to make more bile salts. These bile salts are made out of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and secreted into your gut to aid in digestion, where they run into more soluble fiber, and so on and so forth.

  • Shelly

    After cooked, try to add fresh green vegetables to it. Greens like parsley and cucumber help your body absorb the calcium in the Quinoa

  • Ingrid Murray

    Thanks for the great post. I started eating quinoa as a breakfast cereal as part of Dr. Oz 2-day detox and it was amazing. I’m hooked. I have it now as a substitute for rice with my meals. As a cereal I make a big pot on Sundays (no seasoning just plain) and scoop out a cup full each morning then warm it up in some almond milk, cinnamon and nutmeg ( can add a little honey or raisin if you want a sweet taste). It keeps me full and focused.

  • danielle

    Oh my… We had quinoa-stuffed pumpkin squash last night, and today with the leftovers I made quinoa "fried rice" with eggs, green onions, and a few spices. SO yummy!!

    • Wendy Polisi

      Sounds fabulous!

  • John

    Wow, it has a lot of iron which can cause a lot of free radical damage and lead to cancer. Considering the vast quantities of rice many people are consuming Quinoa can’t serve as a complete replacement for rice.

    • Randy

      That's a little excessive point of view. You would need to eat ALOT of quinoa to have it affect you that severely. Iron is good for the blood. It's good to be concerned but that's an extremely paranoid POV.