Nutritional Value; Comparing Quinoa, Wheat & Rice

According to studies Quinoa has comparable levels of amino acids to wheat, soy and skim milk. Quinoa however contains an amino acid, lysine which normally isn’t found in vegetable proteins. Lysine is typically found in meat, fish and eggs. Have a look at the table below that shows comparable levels of essential amino acids between wheat and Quinoa; however Quinoa does not contain the gluten usually found within breads.

Table 1: Amino Acid Content (g/100g protein)

Amino Acid

Quinoa Wheat
Isoleucine 4% 3.8%
Leucine 6.8% 6.6%
Lysine 5.1% 2.5%
Phenylalanine 4.6% 4.5%
Tyrosine 3.8% 3%
Cystine 2.4% 2.2%
Methionine 2.2% 1.7%
Threonine 3.7% 2.9%
Tryptophan 1.2% 1.3%
Valine 4.8% 4.7%

Source: Johnson, R. and R. Aguilera. 1980. Processing Varieties of Oilseeds (Lupine and Quinoa), In: Report to Natural Fibers and Foods Commission of Texas, 1978 – 1980 (Reported by D. Cusack, 1984, The Ecologist 14:21 – 31)

Also if we look at the comparison of Quinoa’s mineral composition in Table 2 against that of rice and wheat we will see the glaring superiority that Quinoa has over the alternatives. Quinoa has 20 times the amount of Calcium as Rice and about 15 times the amount of Iron; 9 times the amount of Calcium and 3 times the amoung of Magnesium. Wheat also trails Quinoa in its nutritional value with half as much Calcium and four times less Iron. It should be a no brainer to choose Quinoa the next time you’re at your local grocer.

Table 2: Comparative Mineral Composition (mg/100g protein)

Quinoa Rice Wheat
Calcium (Ca) 1487 69 503
Phosphorus (P) 3837 1378 4677
Iron (Fe) 132 7 38
Potassium (K) 9267 1183 5783
Magnesium (Mg) 2496 735 1694
Manganese(Mn) 100 23 39
Chlorine (Cl) 1533 NR 633
Copper (Cu) 51 2 7

Source: Kosiol, M.J. (1992). Chemical composition and nutritional evaluation of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Wild). In Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Vol. 5, n 1, pp 36 – 68.

Feel free to leave your comments, questions or your own personal input in the comments section below.

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By Rich Thurman, B.Sc., MA, CSCS, CPT

Health & Performance Coach

Active Lifestyle Co. Ltd

With a degree in Physiology from UCLA and a Masters Degree in Sports & Fitness Management, Rich combines his knowledge of rehabilitation and sports performance as well as nutritional studies to provide a complete and holistic approach to training clients. The focus is on lifestyle change which creates long term health.


About Rich Thurman III B.Sc, MA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Rich has a Bachelors of Science in Physiological Science from UCLA and a Masters of Sports Management from USF. He is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association, (NSCA) as a Personal Trainer (CPT) and Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He is primary author of The Fitness Library and writes for various other publications, including the San Francisco Police Officer's Association. Rich is the founder of Xodus Fitness, which offers Fitness Consulting & Personal Training, Urban Body Transformation Bootcamps, Corporate Wellness. Rich also conducts Workshops and an annual lecture at the San Francisco State University Kinesiology Department. Please feel free to contact through any of the links below to inquire about professional services or opportunities.

4 Responses to Nutritional Value; Comparing Quinoa, Wheat & Rice

  1. Pingback: Rich’s Morrocan Mint Quinoa Salad « Bangkok Personal Trainer

  2. Tammi Kibler says:

    I love quinoa! Thank you for putting this chart together for comparisons.

  3. Pingback: Last Minute Holiday Desserts Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Low Fat « Bangkok Personal Trainer

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