Have you ever given any thought to the differences between red vs white quinoa? Let's take a look at the nutritional variances, cooking times, and the best ways to use each color.
What Is Quinoa?
It is a member of the goosefoot family. Although you often hear it referred to as a grain, this is inaccurate
Quinoa is a seed that is related to plants like beet, chard, spinach and the edible weed lambs quarters. Although the leaves can be eaten in the same way that you can eat spinach or chard leaves, it is the seeds that we commonly refer to as quinoa. (I have heard of being able to buy the greens at specialty markets in California, but I have never personally seen them for sale.)
If you were to classify it, the correct classification is a pseudo-grain, that is, a non-grain that is treated like a grain in cooking.
One of the best things about this superfood is that it is non-GMO and has not been hybridized. In a world where GMO’s should be a major concern for all of us, its purity makes it an attractive staple part of our diets.
Is Quinoa Nutritious?
Yes, it is a rich source of plant based protein and packed with nutrients. More important than the quantity of protein in quinoa is the quality. It not only contains all of the essential amino acids, but the proportions are closer to the ideal patters that has been set by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization than any other plant based food. In fact, the quality of protein is similar to that found in milk and eggs. Read more about Quinoa Nutrition.
The Difference Between Red and White Quinoa
Over the years, there has been a constant debate on the benefits of red quinoa vs. white quinoa.
The difference between the two colors from a nutritional standpoint is very small., but it does exist. The primary difference the colors is the texture and the ways that you use them.
The Taste of Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa:
The majority of quinoa lovers out there believe that the taste of both the types is dependent upon the way you cook it. However, researchers have demonstrated that white compared to quinoa is less bitter to taste when consumed in its raw form.
While white offers a smooth light flavor, red offers a more bitter and strong flavor. This is on reason that quinoa is more popular.
Nutritional Facts: Red vs White Quinoa
When it comes to nutrition, both the types offer a similar nutritional value. They contain all the nine essential amino acids which is why they are known as ‘complete protein’ foods.
Similarly, both of these types are high in magnesium, iron, vitamin E and B and vitamin B2.
Red provides 8g of fat per cup while white provides approximately 9g per cup. Remember, the fat provided by both of these types is ‘unsaturated fat’ which is quite beneficial for maintaining the cholesterol levels. Moreover, another good news for health conscious people is that all the varieties of this super-seed are free of saturated fat.
Red is slightly higher in both carbs and fiber than white , but the difference is small. Less than 2 grams difference in both per serving.
Difference in Appearance and Taste after Being Cooked:
When cooked, white looks like white rice whereas red quinoa looks more like brown rice. (If you had to compare them to something more familiar. Obviously the texture is different and red is...err red not brown.) Red in particular is known for being crunchier and harder to chew. Remember, both the types must be washed thoroughly before cooked. The seeds have an outside layer of saponin which is quite bitter and you wouldn’t want to chew it!
What Types of Dishes Are Each Type In?
Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference. In general though, red is better and quinoa salads, while white is better suited to Quinoa Smoothies, Casseroles, and Patties.
Do You Cook Red and White Differently?
Because it is firmer, red takes a bit longer to cook. I recommend adding between three and five minutes to the cooking time. Learn more about How to Cook Quinoa on the stovetop, How to Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker or Instant Pot Quinoa.
Where Can I Buy Red and White Quinoa?
Most grocery stores have white but red quinoa can be a bit harder to find. Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are good places to look, and of course there is always online! Amazon is a great place to buy it in bulk.
What’s the Conclusion?
If you are looking for full protein vegetarian meals then this super seed could be an important part of your diet. While there are minor nutritional differences in the two colors, really the choice comes down to what type of dish you are enjoying and your personal preference.
Check out this post to learn more about quinoa vs rice.
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