Cook Once, Eat All Week Meal Plan
3 min read

Is Quinoa a Carbohydrate?

Katherine Moss

is quinoa carbs

Quinoa has become exceedingly popular among health foodies and people with special dietary conditions, including celiac disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, veganism, and the ketogenic diet to name a few.

The reason for its success in the health industry lies solely in its high nutritional value.

What is Quinoa exactly, and what’s with the hype?

Chenopodium quinoa is the plant that produces the quinoa seed. It grows and thrives in the high plains where it can withstand adverse conditions like intense summers and piercing winters.

Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that quinoa is native to the Andes region, although it can also be grown in other parts of the globe, such as the US and Canada.

Quinoa is gluten-free and packed with protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals.

It has become so profitable due to it’s rising demand, that as a result, several other countries in continents like Asia, Europe, and Africa are also experimenting with growing this super seed.

An interesting fact about quinoa is that although it’s technically a seed, it has been categorized as a whole grain.

In the kitchen, it can be prepared like any other cereal-like type of grain, however, because quinoa does not come from grass-like most grains, it is instead a pseudocereal.

Now that we have learned that quinoa is a pseudocereal whole grain, its time to begin to address our most important question yet: is quinoa carbs, like rice, potatoes, or bread?

Let’s face it, when we think of carbs the first thing that pops into most of our minds is generally potatoes, pasta, and rice, therefore let’s explore the quinoa vs vice comparison chart below.

Nutrition Facts per 100 grams Quinoa White Rice
Calories 120g 129g
Protein 4.4g 2.7
Carbs 21.3g 27.9g
Sugar 0.9g 0.05g
Fiber 2.8g 0.4g
Fat 1.9g 0.28g


Vitamins and Minerals Manganese, Copper, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Folate, Iron, and Zinc Manganese, B1, B3, B5, B6 B9, Selenium, Copper, Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorus

Quinoa wins to white rice in terms of nutrition in almost every aspect, as it contains:

  • The least amount of calories
  • Nearly double the number of proteins
  • Fewer carbs
  • Higher concentration of fibers
  • More healthy fats
  • Doesn’t spike up blood sugar (Low Glycemic Index)

Surprisingly, quinoa loses to white rice in 2 aspects:

  • Fewer variety of vitamins and minerals (white rice has all of the quinoas vitamins and minerals + 4 others)
  • Higher sugar content (insignificant and minuscule difference)

Antioxidants and Antinutrients in Quinoa

Another great thing about our beloved quinoa is that it has a good balance of antioxidants.

Quercetin is a polyphenol antioxidant present in the quinoa seed that protects against some cancers, heart disease as well as osteoporosis.

Kaempferol is a polyphenol antioxidant that is also known to reduce the risk of cancer along with some other chronic diseases.

Squalene is another potent antioxidant found in quinoa.

Beware however of the antinutrients in quinoa like phytic acid, saponins along with oxalates, as they could potentially affect the more sensitive person.

A way to decrease the number of antinutrients in quinoa is to rinse and soak them before using them.

Notes for special dietary conditions

If you are doing the ketogenic diet, this means that you should not excessively indulge in quinoa, if even at all, due to the restrictive carbohydrate intake requirements pertinent to this diet.

It is also a fact that for diabetes patients, higher quantities of fiber and protein helps to control blood sugar, thus making quinoa beneficial for this group of individuals.

For vegans and lactose intolerant, quinoa milk in particular is an excellent alternative to dairy milk. It can also be used as a base for vegan burger patties due to its relatively high protein content.

Quinoa is also free of gluten allowing IBS and celiac patients the freedom to indulge as desired.

But let’s cut to the chase, is quinoa carbs?

Although quinoa has fewer carbohydrates and more nutrients than white rice, it is still considered a carbohydrate-rich food. Therefore you could potentially say that quinoa is carbs after all!

In truth, quinoa is one of the best foods on earth and for the major population, it may be consumed guilt-free.