bowls of quinoa and rice

Quinoa vs rice: which is better?

Keen to add more pulses and grains to your diet? You can’t go wrong with rice and quinoa! Both are versatile, tasty, and often easily interchangeable depending on the dish you’re making.

If you’re worried about their health benefits, you’ll find both foods are jam-packed with nutritional goodness. Nonetheless, there can only be one winner when it comes to quinoa vs rice…

The difference between quinoa and rice

If you’re trying to control your weight, or simply want to get the most out of what you eat, it’s worth getting to grips with why precisely these two ingredients are so good for you. Here’s what you need to know:

Rice nutrients

A mainstay in most Asian cooking, rice has been consumed for centuries and comes in a range of colours and shapes.

Brown rice – rice which hasn’t had its husk, bran, and germ removed – is generally considered the healthiest. This is because it contains high numbers of nutrients which are lost during processing.

Here are just a few of the nutritional benefits you can expect to enjoy if you eat brown rice:1

It’s a great source of fibre

Fibre is an essential part of everyone’s diet for several different reasons, from aiding with digestion to helping create that feeling of fullness which can limit your snacking.2 Rice is also a better source of fibre than most carbohydrates, plus brown rice has the added benefit of being relatively low on the glycemic index. This means it’s less likely to spike your blood sugar levels.3

It’s naturally low in fat and salt

Brown rice is excellent for people on a diet as it doesn’t contain any unhealthy trans fats. It’s also low in salt and cholesterol, making it a fantastic food for people with certain health conditions.

It contains no gluten

Brown rice is perfect for those suffering from gluten intolerance. White rice, on the other hand, can often be enhanced with products which may contain gluten. If in doubt, always read the backs of packets to check if it’s gluten-free certified.

Quinoa nutrients

Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wah”. This ever-popular foodstuff originally hails from South America. It is a fantastic addition to salads, curries, or veggie burger patties.  It’s technically a seed rather than a grain. However, it’s still bursting with vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium and zinc.4 Other quinoa health benefits include the fact it:5

Is an excellent source of protein

Quinoa really packs a punch when it comes to protein, with one cup of cooked quinoa containing around 8g of protein. That’s about double the amount of protein as the same portion of white rice. What’s more, quinoa is classed as a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs to function.

Is very high in fibre

Quinoa is a brilliant source of soluble fibre. This substance can help regulate your toilet habits, aid with digestion, and keep you feeling fuller for longer.6 Typically, one cup of quinoa has 5g of fibre in it – that’s about a sixth of an adult’s recommended daily intake.7

Is gluten-free

Unlike many carbohydrates, quinoa is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for a coeliac to eat. It’s still worth checking the packet to make sure it’s certified gluten-free, since many companies process products containing gluten in the same factories.8

So, which is healthier?

The quinoa vs rice problem is pretty easy to solve. While both have their own unique benefits, it’s definitely quinoa which takes the top spot!

That’s down to the fact that quinoa is a complete protein, high in dietary fibre, and a great source of numerous vitamins needed by the body to function day-to-day. Quinoa is also more filling than most kinds of rice, allowing you to enjoy smaller portion sizes yet still feel sated if you’re trying to diet.9

Nevertheless, rice still has its place in the kitchen, mostly if you stick to unprocessed brown rice which has been allowed to retain all its natural goodness.

Why not sample both of these brilliant foods for yourself by shopping our complete rice, pasta, pulses, and grains range? Shop Food & Drink
bhupesh-panchal2

Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs

  • Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
  • Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines. View Bhupesh's LinkedIn profile. In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.

Last updated: 11 December 2020

Sources
  1. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-get-more-fibre-into-your-diet/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/quinoa-vs-rice#What-are-the-health-benefits-of-brown-rice?-
  3. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a28927845/quinoa-vs-rice/
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-get-more-fibre-into-your-diet/
  5. https://www.myrecipes.com/healthy-diet/whats-better-quinoa-or-rice
  6. https://www.myrecipes.com/healthy-diet/whats-better-quinoa-or-rice
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