White rice may start in meals all around the world, but when it comes to nutrition, quinoa, a similar side dish and stir-fry staple, wins the contest. You’ve likely become familiar with quinoa over the past decade, though it was first grown in South America 5,000 years ago. It’s often referred to as a whole grain, though that’s not entirely accurate. It is technically considered a seed, but it has similar nutritional and culinary properties as rice and other grains.
Both quinoa and white rice have a similar number of calories per 1-cup serving 222 calories versus 205 calories. But when it comes to other health benefits, there’s no contest that quinoa wins. According to the American Heart Association, white rice is a refined carbohydrate. That means it’s been processed, and key nutrients, such as fiber and B vitamins, have been stripped along the way. Quinoa maintains those nutrients. Because it is considered a whole grain, meaning it has all the parts of the endosperm, bran, and germ it provides more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than refined grains like white rice.
Compared With Rice, Quinoa Can Help Keep You Fuller for Longer
One cup of quinoa contains 5 g of fiber, a significant jump from white rice’s 0.6 g. s Fiber is an important nutrient because it can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It also keeps your digestive system humming and can help you manage your weight, according to the American Heart Association. Fiber can help to keep you full and satisfied, stabilize blood sugar, and help with lowering cholesterol.
Quinoa Is a Complete Protein, While Rice Simply Is No
Quinoa is a protein powerhouse and contains more protein than white rice and other grains. While most plant-based foods are incomplete proteins, quinoa qualifies as a complete protein source, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs but cannot make on its own. That’s especially important for those following a plant-based diet. Here is the simple quinoa salad recipe.
White rice, on the other hand, is not a complete protein source. One cup of quinoa contains 8 grams (g) of protein, which is double the protein available in the same amount of white rice.
Including protein on your plate is key for proper nutrition, not to mention maintaining your skin, blood, muscle, bone, and cartilage health, among other critical functions. Fueling up with protein is also a good idea if you’re looking to lose weight. It can help with appetite control and weight management.
Quinoa Can Better Enhance the Nutrient Profile of Gluten-Free Diets
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and can be a great source of nutrition for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It’s a better choice than white rice, which is also gluten-free, because it provides more key nutrients. Past research has suggested gluten-free dieters chose white rice as their main grain 38 percent of the time, yet they also faced nutritional deficiencies. The researchers found that when study participants incorporated “alternative” grains (quinoa, oats, and high-fiber brown rice bread) into their meals, they significantly increased their intake of protein, iron, calcium, and fiber.
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