Quinoa | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a type of edible seed that comes in various colors, including black, red, yellow, and white. The plant has been cultivated for about 5,000 years and is indigenous to the Andean region of South America, specifically Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Peru. Once the seeds are harvested, they are processed to remove the natural saponins, a bitter-tasting chemical compound that coats the exterior and acts as a natural pesticide.

Quinoa is usually harvested by hand due to the different levels of maturity of the seeds, even within the same plant. therefore, seed losses may occur if mechanically harvested. however, in the us In the US, seed varieties that have a more consistent maturity are selected to allow for mechanical processing.

Reading: Why is quinoa good for you

source of

  • manganese
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium
  • folate
  • thiamine (vitamin b1)

quinoa and health

  • While technically a seed, quinoa is classified as a whole grain and is a good source of vegetable protein and fiber. a cooked cup provides about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Unlike some plant proteins, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on its own.
  • Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free and is can safely eat if one has a gluten intolerance, such as celiac disease.


  1. Packaged quinoa is usually pre-rinsed, but some brands may recommend rinsing before cooking to remove any remaining saponins. use a fine mesh strainer to catch the small seeds and run the quinoa under cold water for a few passes.
  2. quinoa is prepared similarly to rice using two parts liquid quinoa to one part dry quinoa . one cup of dry quinoa will yield 3 cups cooked and can be prepared in water, broth, or other liquids. you can also add herbs or spices during cooking, such as bay leaves, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, or garlic or onion powder.
  3. add desired seeds, liquid, and herbs to a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. when it reaches the boiling point, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender. you may notice a small white “tail” unfolding when fully cooked; this is the nourishing germ. fluff with a fork. if the quinoa is too wet or you prefer a drier quinoa, drain the cooked quinoa in a colander and return it to the pot. cover and let sit for 15 minutes to dry further.
    • For easier cooking, quinoa can be prepared in a rice cooker with the same ratio of 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water.

    A bowl of quinoa with tomatoes and herbsServe

    • prepare as a breakfast cereal by cooking the quinoa in milk or water. add diced fresh fruit, cinnamon, and a tablespoon of walnuts.
    • substitute quinoa for rice in stir-fries and sushi.
    • add 1/2 cup cooked quinoa Add to salads or soups for added flavor.
    • Replace pasta with quinoa in pasta salad recipes.
    • Pop quinoa similar to popping popcorn. place 6-inch-deep saucepan over medium-high heat. when the pan is very hot, add enough quinoa to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer. turn the heat to medium, then cover and shake the pot to ensure a more even temperature and fewer burned seeds. open lid slightly several times to allow steam to escape. continue to shake the pan until the popping subsides or you smell burning. pour the kernels out onto a baking sheet to cool. season as desired.

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    more recipe ideas and suggestions for serving with quinoa:

    • quinoa, chia and edamame veggie burger

    did you know?

    • There are more than 120 known varieties of quinoa. white and yellow quinoa have the mildest flavor, so they are good varieties to try first. red and black quinoa have slightly stronger, earthier flavors and tend to hold their shape better than lighter colored quinoa.


    • the whole (grain) is greater than the sum of its parts
    • david ludwig clears up carbohydrate confusion

    terms of use

    The content on this website is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. the nutrition source does not recommend or endorse any products.

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