Nutritional Value

For some people, quinoa is a new and nutritious food recently available at their local supermarket or favourite restaurant as a substitute for many commonly eaten grains. While this may be true in many areas of the world, quinoa was a major food crop of the pre-Columbian cultures in Latin America, and still remains an important food for the Quechua and Aymara peoples of the rural areas in the Andes region of South America. The Incas considered it “the mother seed”.

Quinoa is unique in that it is a seed eaten in a manner similar to a grain. It is often either cooked and added to soups, or made into flour to be used in bread, drinks or porridges. Regarding quinoa’s nutrition, it is comparable in energy to similarly eaten foods such as beans, maize, rice or wheat. In addition, quinoa is notable as a good source of quality protein, dietary fibre, polyunsaturated fats and minerals. While quinoa is a good source of many nutrients, it is important to consume it as a part of a balanced meal with many other food types to obtain good overall nutrition.

Macro-nutrient contents of quinoa, per 100 grams dry weight

Energy (kJoule/100g)(Kcal/100g) 1671 /399
Protein (g/100g) 16.5
Fat (f/100g) 6.3
Total Carbohydrate (g/100g) 69.0

* Kiozol (1992)

Comparison of the profiles of the essential amino acids of the quinoa with the FAO score pattern for ages ranging from 3 to 10 years (g / 100 g protein)

Quinoa  FAO*  Quinoa**
Isoleucine 3.0 4.9
Leucine 6.1 6.6
Lycine 4.8 6.0
Methionine + cysteine 2.3 5.3*
Phenylalanine + tyrosine 4.1 6.9
Threonine 2.5 3.7
Tryptophan 0.66 0.9
Valline 4.0 4.5

*Amino acid scoring patterns for 3 to 10 year old children, adapted from FA (2013).
Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition. Report on an FAO Expert Consultation. Rome
** Kiozol (1992)

Mineral content of quinoa, mg / 100g dry weight

Calcium 148.7
Iron 13.2
Magnesium 249.6
Phosphorus 383.7
Potassium 926.7
Zinc 4.4

* Kiozol (1992)

Vitamin content of quinoa, mg / 100g dry weight

Thiamine 0.2 – 0.4
Riboflavin 0.2 – 0.3
Folic acid 0.0781
Niacin 0.5 – 0.7

* Kiozol (1992)