Quinoa vs Rice: Nutrition, Taste and Uses

Quinoa and brown rice are both delicious and nutritious additions to most diets. However, quinoa contains slightly more protein, fiber and other essential nutrients than rice.

When it comes to the Grand Hall of Grain Gods, rice has always reigned supreme. But in recent years, a new contender has risen through the ranks of superfoods. We are talking about quinoa, of course!

But is one really better than the other? Read on to find out if quinoa or rice is healthier for you.

Both quinoa and rice can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. However, quinoa is slightly higher in nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

Here’s what 1 cup of cooked quinoa, brown rice, and white rice has to offer.


  • Gluten free food. Rejoice, gluten-free, fam! Brown rice is a top-notch substitute for gluten-free grains like barley, rye, and flour. Just keep in mind that some brands of easy-to-cook rice may have gluten in the mix. So be sure to check the ingredient label before eating.
  • Fast energy. When you need that zig but you’re just zig-zagging, white rice can give you a quick energy boost. It’s very easy to digest and can help you replenish depleted glycogen stores, making it a great post-workout meal.
  • Full of fiber. Brown rice can help things get moving in your colon. Fiber has also been shown to make you feel full longer, which can help with weight loss.
  • Solid source of nutrients. Brown rice contains essential nutrients like magnesium, selenium, manganese and phosphorus. It also contains small amounts of calcium, copper and zinc. Big win.
  • Rice is easy on the stomach. White rice is very easy to digest, making it a great food if you’re feeling trendy.

The inconvenients

  • Rice contains traces of arsenic. Rice can contain a potentially dangerous heavy metal called arsenic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to arsenic can increase your risk of cancer. To play it safe, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that children under 6 should not eat rice. You might also want to avoid eating a ton of rice if you’re pregnant.
  • Food poisoning. Rice may contain bacteria (Bacillus cereus) which can cause food poisoning. The longer you leave the rice at room temperature, the better your chances. So be sure to heat your rice well. It’s also a good idea to throw away that leftover rice carton that’s been chilling in the back of your fridge for weeks.
  • White rice could increase the risk of diabetes. According to a review of studies involving more than 350,000 people, researchers found that people who ate the most white rice had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least.


  • Complete source of protein. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
  • Gluten free. Like rice, quinoa is a gluten-free food. But again, you need to double-check a product’s label to make sure no gluten was added during the production process.
  • Rich in fiber. Quinoa contains more fiber than brown or white rice, which helps control blood sugar. Phew!
  • Good for your gut. Fiber-rich foods like quinoa can promote beneficial bacteria in your gut. It can also promote healthy, regular bowel movements.
  • It has these good-good minerals. Quinoa is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and zinc.

The inconvenients

  • Raw quinoa is not good for human consumption. To protect the plant against natural threats, the seed husks are coated with incredibly bitter saponins. These can be harmful to the intestines and blood cells if digested, especially for children and those with tummy issues.

OK, now that we have it all figured out, we can get to the big stuff. What do these little magic tablets taste like and what can they be used for? Here’s the scoop.


When cooked properly, quinoa should be chewy and slightly chewy with an almost nutty flavor. Think brown rice but tastier. In other words, it’s delicious.

Quinoa varieties are usually divided by color and all taste slightly different. Some of the more common types you are likely to encounter are:

  • red quinoa
  • white quinoa
  • black quinoa
  • tricolor quinoa


Rice can take many forms – thousands, in fact! Although most taste mild, some, like brown rice, have an earthy flavor. The texture can be soft and chewy or chewy depending on how you cook it.

Besides the ubiquitous white and brown rice, here are some of the types you’re most likely to find at your local grocery store:

  • black rice
  • sticky rice
  • yellow rice
  • arborio rice
  • jasmine rice
  • basmati rice
  • parboiled rice

Offerings like Spanish rice and rice pilaf aren’t actually varieties of rice per se. They are actually rice dishes made with white rice. And they are both delicious.

PS You will often notice terms like long-grain or short-grain rice. This indicates (surprise!) the length of the individual rice grains. The grain length doesn’t make a big difference, but you may have a personal preference.

The judges have compiled their scorecards and the decision is about to be announced. Ladies and gentlemen, we have… a draw? A bit disappointing. But here’s the thing – rice and quinoa are both great. They have similar nutritional profiles, they’re both delicious, and they can both be served in a myriad of delicious ways.

Due to its more pronounced flavor, quinoa is probably less suitable for desserts and sweet offerings (think rice pudding or sticky rice). But, you know, can you still try? Enjoy your lunch!

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