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Which is Better - Quinoa or Rice?

By Sara Butler

Quinoa has made a big splash in the nutrition world over the last decade or so. This grain is often touted as a great alternative to rice and other grains, but is it really better than rice when it comes to your health? Here are the health benefits of both quinoa and rice so you can decide for yourself!

What is Quinoa, Exactly?

Comparing quinoa and rice isn’t a very fair comparison because quinoa isn’t a grain at all. Quinoa is a seed that comes from the goosefoot plants, in the same family as spinach and beets. It has a similar nutritional profile to grains and is cooked in much the same way, which is why it is often compared to grains such as rice.

The benefits of quinoa include:

  • It contains a good amount of fiber – One cup of quinoa has five grams of fiber, more than white or brown rice. This helps to keep you feeling fuller longer, control blood sugar and relieve constipation. It may even be useful to help control your cholesterol levels.
  • It is considered a complete protein – Just one cup of quinoa has eight grams of protein, and because it has the nine essential amino acids needed by your body to achieve optimal health it is considered a complete protein. But, it is higher in calories than other sources of protein.
  • It is packed with minerals – Quinoa contains iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, calcium, selenium and potassium. It’s a mineral powerhouse!

What About Rice?

Rice has its benefits too. The health benefits of rice include:

  • It’s easily digestible – White rice is easy on your tummy, so it’s a great thing to eat if you’ve been suffering from a stomach bug.
  • Brown rice can help reduce blood pressure – Brown rice and other whole grains can help you to maintain a healthy weight, help your body to more efficiently use insulin and increase your potassium, which can help to reduce blood pressure.
  • It’s also an excellent source of minerals – Brown rice has manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium, along with a little zinc, calcium and copper for good measure.

Which is Right for You?

Rice, especially brown rice, and quinoa both have a place in a healthy and balanced diet. The health benefits of the two are really much similar than people may realize, so feel free to use brown rice or quinoa in your recipes and feel good about it!

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