Carbohydrates in Quinoa: The most important questions and answers

quinoa benefits

One of the latest trends in healthy eating is the so-called "superfoods" that are suddenly appearing everywhere. These are supposed to be miraculous foods that contain above-average amounts of important nutrients and can thus compensate for any deficiencies and meet many daily needs in one go. Quinoa, a seed from South America that has been cultivated for 5000 years, is one of these superfoods.

For many people who want to eat healthily, have allergies, or watch their weight, the question of the carbohydrate content in different foods is very relevant. This article aims to clarify whether the superfood quinoa even contains carbohydrates, whether all forms of quinoa contain carbohydrates, and answer other potentially important questions regarding carbohydrates in quinoa.


Quinoa is an edible seed that is very popular due to its many nutrients, and it is also known as a pseudocereal because it resembles grains but is derived from a different plant species. It is considered a good source of protein and iron and is quickly prepared.

Quinoa contains approximately 60-65% carbohydrates, and the main component of carbohydrates in quinoa is starch, at about 32-70%. Both cooked and puffed quinoa also contain carbohydrates. The carbohydrate content of puffed quinoa hardly changes, while the carbohydrate content of cooked quinoa is significantly lower.

The carbohydrates contained in quinoa are known as complex or healthy carbohydrates, which means that they provide long-lasting satiety and have little impact on blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that quinoa is therefore very suitable for diabetics who need to watch their blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates in Quinoa: What You Should Know

Here we clarify the most important questions about carbohydrates in quinoa. This is to clear up any doubts you may have about the subject of quinoa and carbohydrates.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a seed that is suitable for consumption. There are over 120 different known varieties of quinoa, such as white, red, and black quinoa. It has been cultivated for over 5000 years and originally comes from some regions of South America, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile.

quinoa recipes
There are over 120 varieties of quinoa known. Most often there is white, black, and red quinoa.

Before the seeds can be sold, the naturally occurring saponin must first be removed as it is considered a pesticide and thus dangerous and harmful to health. The seeds of quinoa should be hand-picked due to varying degrees of maturity, even within a single plant. The seeds can be cooked, similar to rice.

Quinoa is a so-called superfood because it contains many important nutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein, and iron, all at once. It is also gluten-free and therefore suitable for allergy sufferers. Quinoa also belongs to the pseudocereals, which are very similar to cereals but belong to different plant families.

Does Quinoa contain carbohydrates?

Quinoa does indeed contain carbohydrates. For a better understanding of the carbohydrate content, here is a table of nutritional values for quinoa per 100 grams.

Nutritional values Percentage
Protein 12.9%
Carbohydrates 63.7%
Dietary fiber 13.9%
Fat 6.5%
Ash 3%

Additional substances contained in quinoa include polyphenols, phytosterols, and flavonoids. Quinoa usually contains between 60-65 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. The main component of carbohydrates in quinoa is starch, ranging from 32-69.2%.

The small gelatinization temperature of quinoa starch gives it various properties, such as high viscosity, water absorption capacity, and swelling power. Therefore, it can be used as powdered starch in the cosmetics industry.

About 3% of the carbohydrates in quinoa consist of simple sugars. Other ingredients in quinoa include iron, folate, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Vitamins B3, E, and calcium are also present in quinoa.

Does Quinoa contain healthy/complex carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in a 1:2:1 ratio. Whether or not carbohydrates are "healthy" depends on the carbohydrate chain length.

This determines the degree and speed of digestion, thus influencing blood sugar levels. Long or complex carbohydrates are considered healthy because they have a low glycemic index.

The glycemic index is an indicator of how much blood sugar levels rise after consuming food. The lower the glycemic index, the slower the blood sugar levels rise, and the longer one feels full. A study shows that quinoa has a low glycemic index and thus contains healthy, complex carbohydrates.

Does puffed Quinoa contain carbohydrates?

Puffed quinoa is a processed form of quinoa that has been heated and expanded, resulting in a light and crunchy texture. It is often used as a healthy snack option or as a topping for salads, yogurt, or other dishes. Puffed quinoa can be made using various techniques, such as puffing via gun, extrusion, or microwave puffing. However, many people wonder if puffed quinoa contains carbohydrates.

Yes, quinoa, whether puffed or not, contains carbohydrates.

It is worth noting that the glycemic index of puffed quinoa may be slightly higher than that of regular quinoa. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index can cause blood sugar levels to spike, leading to a crash later on. However, puffed quinoa is still considered a healthy snack option due to its high nutritional content and the fact that it is a whole grain.

chenopodium quinoa
Quinoa can be puffed in several ways. However, this does not affect the carbohydrate content.

A scientific article compared the physical and chemical characteristics of different types of puffed quinoa and found that the carbohydrate content hardly changed.

Puffing Method Carbohydrate content
Raw Quinoa 78.3 g
Machine puffing 79.66 g
Extrusion 81.44 g
Microwave puffing 78.35 g

Cooked quinoa contains fewer carbohydrates compared to raw quinoa. Here is a table of nutritional values of cooked quinoa per 100 grams for comparison:

Nutrient Value
Calories 120 kcal
Carbohydrates 21.3 g
Protein 4.4 g
Fat 1.9 g
Fiber 2.8 g
Sugar 0.9 g
Sodium 5 mg

So if you want to eat quinoa without taking in many carbohydrates, you can cook it instead of eating it raw and thus reduce its carbohydrate content.

Is Quinoa allowed on a low-carb diet despite containing carbohydrates?

Simple, short-chain carbohydrates cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and provide quick energy. As a result, one becomes hungry quickly or even experiences cravings.

That's why in a low-carb diet, one tries to avoid or limit the intake of carbohydrates. Whether or not one can eat quinoa during a low-carb diet depends on whether one strictly avoids carbohydrates. However, this is not recommended as the body still needs carbohydrates.

If someone on a low-carb diet aims to eat only healthy carbs, quinoa is a suitable option because it has a low glycemic index. This means that it has minimal impact on blood sugar levels and can help keep you feeling full for a longer period. Scientific articles also suggest that quinoa is a beneficial replacement for grains and rice because it contains nutritious carbohydrates.

Can diabetes consume Quinoa because of its nutritious carbohydrates?

Studies show that plant-based diets have a positive impact on diabetes control. It is beneficial for diabetes to consume foods that do not or only slightly increase blood sugar, so foods with a low glycemic index.

A low-carb diet or a diet with a low glycemic index can help with the management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as results from a study show.

Several other studies also show that quinoa can have positive effects against diabetes. Therefore, due to the healthy carbohydrates it contains, quinoa is very suitable for diabetes as it helps to keep one feeling full for longer and keeps blood sugar levels stable.

What are the alternatives to quinoa?

If quinoa is not to your liking or its carb content doesn't meet your expectations, there are some alternative options available. The suitable alternatives for you vary depending on the type of carbohydrate you are looking for.

If you require more carbohydrates as an athlete, you may want to consider bulgur or millet as alternatives. On the other hand, if you are aiming for fewer carbs in your diet, like for weight loss or a low-carb diet, oats are a good option as they have slightly lower carbohydrate content.

Quinoa-Alternative: Bulgur

Bulgur is traditionally made from durum wheat. It is one of the staple foods in the Middle East and is popular because it is very nutritious. Bulgur contains slightly more carbohydrates than quinoa, at about 68.9%, making it an alternative if you are looking for something with higher carbohydrate content.

Quinoa-Alternative: Hirse

Hirse is a cereal and is considered one of the oldest varieties. This grain has a high-fat content and, like quinoa, is gluten-free. Hirse also has a higher carbohydrate content, at 70.4%. It has been shown that Hirse can also help with diabetes.

Quinoa-Alternative: Hafer

Oats are also a type of cereal, with over 30 varieties available. They are rich in vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, and are also known for their high protein content. Oats have almost the same amount of carbohydrates as quinoa, with 60% carbohydrates, and can also be consumed by diabetics.

Quinoa-Alternative: Couscous

Couscous is made from cereal semolina and is not a standalone grain. It is typically made from durum wheat semolina, but can also be made from Hirse or barley. Like quinoa, couscous contains significantly more carbohydrates, 77.4%, making it a high-carbohydrate alternative to quinoa


Quinoa is a food in the form of a seed that can be eaten. The question of whether quinoa contains carbohydrates can be answered with yes. Even quinoa in another form, such as cooked or puffed, contains carbohydrates.

However, the carbohydrate content decreases when quinoa is cooked, making it an alternative if you want to consume fewer carbohydrates, while the content remains almost the same in puffed quinoa.

Quinoa has an average carbohydrate content of around 60%, but these are complex and therefore Healthy carbohydrates. This means that, unlike simple carbohydrates, they provide long-lasting satiety and do not cause cravings.

This makes quinoa suitable for both diabetics and people following a low-carb diet. Alternatives to quinoa include oats, millet, bulgur, and couscous. However, couscous, millet, and bulgur have a slightly higher carbohydrate content, while oats have a similar range to quinoa.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post

نموذج الاتصال