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Myth or reality: is quinoa fattening?

Myth or reality: is quinoa fattening?

Myth or reality: is quinoa fattening?

Blogs, articles, posts on social networks... we can find thousands of examples of content explaining how to eat healthy, lose weight, or which foodstuffs are fattening. Many foodstuffs have been in the social media spotlight, and quinoa is no exception: is quinoa fattening? what does science really say?In this article we delve into this pseudocereal with very interesting nutritional properties, which can also help us to innovate in the kitchen. Let’s get to work!

Quinoa, the pseudocereal par excellence

2013 was declared the international year of quinoa by the FAO. This foodstuff from the Andes has awoken great interest due to its nutritional qualities. It also stands out for its capacity to adapt to different climatic conditions, an important factor for climate change. Quinoa is a pseudocereal because it is nutritionally very similar to cereals, although from a botanical point of view they are not the same. Incidentally, quinoa belongs to the same botanical family as spinach or Swiss chard.

What is quinoa?

Nutritionally speaking, this foodstuff stands out for its supply of high biological value protein. This is due to the quantity of essential amino acids which contain compounds that form proteins and which we need to ingest through our diet. Specifically, quinoa and soy are two of the vegetable origin products that supply the highest quantity of essential amino acids. This may be of great interest to people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, as it offers them a source of quality vegetable protein. But it also provides us with other interesting nutrients:

  • Supply of fibre, an important piece of information as according to the important ANIBES study, 40% of dietary fibre is provided to us by cereals and their derivatives
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Naturally gluten-free
  • Contains vitamins from the B group (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin)
  • Provides minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus

Regarding the recommended intake, quinoa is found in the same group as cereals potatoes, and soft legumes. For this group the recommended daily intake is4-6 portions according to experts such as the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition (SENC). However, it is important to promote variety between them by incorporating them into our diet in a suitable manner.

How many carbohydrates does a daily serving of quinoa provide?

50-60% of the total caloric value of an adult diet has to come from carbohydrates. For example, for a daily diet of 2,000kcal, that would be 250-270g in total. In 100g of quinoa there are 50g of hydrates, so a generous serving of quinoa in an individual dish (with vegetables or salad), which are 60-80g raw, provides us with 11-15% of daily carbohydrates. In other words, a plate of quinoa is a small percentage of those 250g of carbohydrates that are required. If we are talking about energy, a serving of quinoa provides us with between 180 and 240kcal.

Quinoa glycaemic index

It contains a lower glycaemic index than rice or pasta. As it is rich in fibre, it contributes an ever more progressive supply of energy, acting as an ally in glucose regulation by preventing sharp increases in blood sugar.


Lastly, quinoa naturally has no gluten. That’s why both coeliacs and any other person with conditions linked to gluten can consume it. It is another interesting option to be able to enjoy gluten-free pasta. For example, the organic quinoa and rice pastas from Quinua Real!

Saponins: a real risk?

One of the warnings related to the consumption of quinoa is saponins. These compounds are a bitter substance that are found naturally in foodstuffs such as legumes and quinoa. The quantity of saponin in quinoa is very low. Furthermore, when harvested it is washed and dry scrubbed to eliminate it. Additionally, by leaving them to soak and then cooking them we will further reduce their presence.


Let’s get to the point: is quinoa fattening?

The answer is no, quinoa is not fattening. As we mentioned, it is a foodstuff that provides us with a high quantity of important nutrients for our body. Moreover, it provides us with fibre that will make us feel full. However, it is important to note that everyone has specific nutritional needs based on their age, sex, physical activity, etc. For that reason, adapting your diet will be key to staying in good health and maintaining a healthy weight. It is important to monitor our intake of fat, salt, and free sugars by always following the recommendations of healthcare professionals.


How is it cooked?

As well as its nutritional quality, it stands out for being easy and quick to prepare. It is similar in cooking method to rice, providing more fibre and double the protein. It is advisable to wash and rinse with water beforehand and the cooking time is no longer than 10 minutes. It is cooked in three parts water to one part quinoa, then left to rest for a few minutes once removed from the heat. Next, drain and season to taste.

You can include it in numerous dishes and healthy recipes: sautés, salads, homemade vegetarian burgers... It really is delightful! It is also delicious in vegetable or rice stews, with sautés and with vegetables. Use multicolour grains from Quinua Real to serve up colourful dishes!

And if you need more help, go to this article where we give you the key points in cooking it.

The qualities of quinoa deserve to be enjoyed! Remember that our diet should always follow the framework of a balanced and varied diet. In this way, we can contribute to caring for our health and maintaining a healthy weight.