Solving the diet issue is not easy. It requires conscious elimination of refined carbohydrates from the diet.
Rice in itself is not entirely “not whole”. It is, however, loaded with carbohydrate that is easily digested. Ingesting rice leads to high blood insulin triggers which is a known cause of obesity and cardio-vascular diseases.
There are also different varieties of rice. In a previous article I put together a comparison between the GI values of different rice varieties to show that different strains of rice do have different effect on the body, while brown rice does not have much more advantage than white rice.
Read this article : The GI Values of Different Rice Varieties
Comparison between Quinoa vs Rice
Below is a chart comparing the macro-nutrient content of quinoa with normal long grain rice, basmati rice and pasta. This data can be found in sites myfitnesspal.com and nutritiondata.self.com.
This compares % of carbs, protein and fat in total % calories of the cooked food. It is more accurate to calculate this way, because it counts only the dry weight (sans water).
Points to note about this chart:
- All four foods are carbohydrate sources.
- Quinoa contains more than 10x more fat than rice and 4x more fat than pasta.
- Quinoa contains more than 2x more protein than rice, but almost the same amount as pasta.
Many vegans like to say that Quinoa is a good source of protein. Quinoa is a source of carbs, not protein. Just because it contains more protein than rice, does not really make it a good source or protein.
Quinoa is not a good source of protein or fat, but the protein and fat makes it a better source of carbs than rice.
Let me explain why.
GI values of Quinoa vs Rice and Pasta
Foods that do not contain significant amount of sugar can be compared using GI and GL values.
The GI, or glycemic index, is a measure of how fast the food causes spike in blood glucose. GI of 100 is maximum, any foods with GI higher than 50 is considered high GI.
The GL or glycemic load, indicates the overall amount of carbohydrate this food contributes to the diet. Why we look at GL is because while some foods (like watermelon) have high GI, they may have low GL .
Looking at both GI and GL in this comparison between Quinoa, rice and pasta, will shed some light into assessing the different impact these foods make in our diet.
What we can infer from this chart:
- Different rice varieties, though they have same nutritional profile have different GI and GL. Basmati rice, has lower GI and GL than usual long grain rice. This shows that carbohydrate in different plant types are different and will get digested differently.
- Quinoa has a lower GI than rice but almost the same as Pasta. This may seem to indicate that pasta is the better option until we compare the GL values.
- When we compare GL, we can see that Quinoa, while a good carb source, does not load the body with carbs as much as rice or pasta. This is due to the fact that Quinoa is a different type of plant matter.
Why Quinoa is Different
While rice and wheat are seeds of the grass family (same as cereals), Quinoa is not. Quinoa is from a plant related to beetroot and spinach.  The carbohydrate structure in Quinoa less easily absorbed than rice and wheat because the structure of the carbohydrate is likely to be very different. Quinoa also contains more protein and fat.
Quinoa has relatively high fiber (including soluble fiber) content compared with rice or wheat:
- Quinoa, cooked : 5g fiber per cup
- Rice, cooked : 0g fiber per cup
- Pasta, cooked : 2g fiber per cup
Fiber in food slows down digestion of it’s nutrients. It is a contributor to lower GI and GL in Quinoa.
Is Quinoa a Healthier Option to Rice and Pasta?
Yes, because of it’s lower GI and GL, plus there is more nutrients in Quinoa.
BUT if you’re on a restricted carb diet to get ripped or lose fat quickly or whatever… remember that quinoa is a source of carbohydrate, so take that into account.
How to eat Quinoa?
Read More on Quinoa in Books
- Quinoa Recipes: The Complete Cookbook For The Grain Free Diet: Nutrition Made Easy Using Quinoa Recipes
- 500 Best Quinoa Recipes: 100% Gluten-Free Super-Easy Superfood
- Quinoa Recipes For Weight Loss: Health and Weight Loss Recipes
Where to Buy Quinoa
International Table of Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) Values—2008