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Carbs in Quinoa

Nutritional Information, Glycemic Index, Calories, Protein


Updated July 06, 2014

Quinoa in bowl
Dana Hoff/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an interesting food. It acts like a grain in most ways, although it is not technically a grain (the plant is not from the grass family). It is a traditional food in parts of South America, and in the past decade or so has become more common in North America as well. It has a mild, slightly nutty flavor.

Quinoa is often touted as being high in protein, although this is not true in the way most people think of a high-protein food. The amount of protein in quinoa is similar to other grains (that is, not a whole lot compared to the amount of starch and calories they contain). The difference is that quinoa contains more of the amino acid lysine than other grains. This makes them more "complete" -- that is, the body can get all of the essential amino acids it needs from quinoa in similar proportions to what is required.

When quinoa is first harvested, it has a soaplike coating which is bitter and mildly toxic. Quinoa sold in North America almost always has been soaked and rinsed to remove this coating.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Quinoa

  • ½ cup cooked quinoa: 17 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 2.5 grams fiber, 4 grams protein, and 111 calories

  • 4 oz. uncooked quinoa (¼ lb): 64 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 10 grams fiber, 18 grams protein, and 412 calories

Glycemic Index for Quinoa

One set of studies reported an average glycemic index of 53 for quinoa.

More Information About the Glycemic Index

Glycemic Load of Quinoa

  • ½ cup cooked quinoa: 9

  • 4 oz. uncooked quinoa (¼ lb), which is then cooked: 40

More Information About the Glycemic Load

Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of magnesium, and a good source of folate.

More Information About Quinoa at Calorie Count.

More Carb Profiles:

Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service (Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney, Australia), unpublished observations, 1995-2007. Obtained from http://www.glycemicindex.com on 12/31/11.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21.

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