Quinoa Vs Rice Glycemic Index: Head To Head Comparison

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A bowl of quinoa rice

The battle of the grains has seen the rise of quinoa to be the next power grain besting rice. For millennia, rice takes the front seat of the most common cupboard staple across the globe. But as people have become more health-conscious about carbs and nutrient-rich food, and illnesses brought on by metabolic syndrome, let’s make a head to head comparison between quinoa vs. rice and their glycemic index.

Over the recent years, quinoa broke out of its shell and became a much sought after health food over studies that revealed it’s nutrient and mineral dense characteristics. Aside from this, vegans seem to benefit from its complete protein content that supplies all 9 essential amino acids along with fiber.

Although several rice varieties are also heavyweight nutrition sources and are considerably much more affordable than quinoa, we’ll explore quinoa vs. rice (white and brown)– then you can decide which way to go.

What is Quinoa?

In as much as quinoa has been grouped into the controversial company of grains, it is a seed. It may be rather unfair to compare quinoa with rice as one is a seed and the other a grain. Quinoa is indigenous to South America and has family ties with beets and spinach. This may be a baffling fact but if you take a closer look at the nutritional values of quinoa — its nutritional density leans towards that of its green leafy vegetable cousins. 

Health Benefits of Quinoa

  • Low Glycemic Index: Quinoa boasts a low glycemic index of 53 with only 49 grams of carbohydrates in one cup.
  • Supplies Complete Protein: Being such a small seed, it sure packs a heavy load of protein. You get 8 grams of protein in every serving cup of quinoa in your meal. Being a complete protein food, you can reap the benefits of all the 9 essential amino acids which your body needs to function every day. The only downside to eating more of this is its high-calorie content compared to that of other protein-based food.
  • Gluten-Free: Because quinoa is considered a seed more than a grain, it is a godsend to those who cannot tolerate gluten because it is gluten-free. However, it is good to note that there may be some cross-contamination with other grains during its processing. Make sure to only consume certified gluten-free quinoa if you have certain diseases such as celiac disease.
  • Rich in Fiber: Fiber is essential to the body as it helps aid digestion, regulates blood sugar as well as it helps to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Fiber is a big contributing party to weight loss as just 1 cup of quinoa gives you a whopping 5 grams of dietary fiber to keep you feeling full so you don’t overeat.
  • Minefield of Minerals: If you’re looking for a great source of essential minerals to add to your daily diet quinoa is a great food choice. It is loaded with zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. You may also benefit from its nutritional content of potassium, calcium, and selenium

Health Benefits of Rice

For many countries around the globe, rice is a staple food that can come in many varieties. However, the most popular among all is white rice. This comes in short grain and long grain varieties but sadly it lists the lowest in nutritional value because these can be found in the husk, bran, and the germ which have all been removed during processing. Brown rice rings in second place. Upon processing, the husks of brown rice grains are removed but the bran and germ remain hence, it is a much healthier choice than white rice. 

Low in fat and cholesterol/trans-fat-free

Rice does not contain any cholesterol and can be a good source of energy for people on the go. It has calories that can provide you with your daily dose of energy to burn without having to worry about clogging your arteries.


Surprisingly white rice is indeed also gluten-free. But not all white rice varieties are gluten-free. Avoid sushi rice may contain glutinous ingredients along with other flavored rice.

Rich in Minerals

Brown rice also is a good source of minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, and selenium.

Easy on the gut

Rice is easily digested and is usually the first solid food introduced to infants. If you’re suffering from gastric flu, your doctor typically will put you on the BRAT diet which consists of bananas, rice, apples/applesauce, and toast.

Promotes weight loss

Similar to quinoa, brown rice is fiber-rich as compared to its other carbohydrate relatives. That being fiber fills you up and keeps that full feeling longer, you are less likely to eat more than you should. Adding fiber to your diet helps your digestion and gets things moving and cleanse your colon. Research has shown that eating brown rice instead of white rice can reduce abdominal fat build-up which can be dangerous to one’s health.

Regulates blood pressure

Whole grains in general helps control blood pressure. Brown rice gives you this same benefit as it provides you with increased potassium which aids in regulating blood pressure. The low glycemic index in brown rice also helps your body to effectively use insulin which is a great contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and blood vessel damage.

Controls blood sugar

Brown rice has a low glycemic index of 55 for every cup serving while white rice is at 64 for every cup. This shows why shifting to brown rice greatly benefits diabetics since it prevents spikes in your blood sugar levels. According to studies conducted on subjects with type 2 diabetes, shifting to brown rice consumption for 4 months showed significant weight loss and controlled blood sugar.

Making That Choice: Quinoa vs. Rice?

Although it may seem undeniable that picking the healthiest foods to incorporate in your diet, it may also be understandable to go with the most readily available, convenient to cook, and more affordable to purchase regularly.

Quinoa seems to be the best choice for being nutrient-dense with less carbohydrate content compared to white or brown rice. However, because it is a food product that may put a dent in your budget. That being said, if rice is your go-to — making the shift to brown rice from white could be the key to a healthier you. Brown rice can provide you with almost the same health benefits as quinoa without you having to break the bank. Keep in mind that moderation is always the secret to good eating habits. Making better food choices goes a long way in maintaining a balanced diet and still enjoying food.

Health Benefits of Quinoa Rice

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