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Is Quinoa Healthier Than Brown Rice?

Is Quinoa Actually Healthier Than Brown Rice?

Is quinoa the new kale? It's certainly nutritious, and it's getting a whoooole lotta hype. You'll see quinoa at any grocery store nowadays, at natural markets, restaurants, and bulk retailers like Costco. Even Starbucks is getting in on the quinoa trend!

But hold on, is quinoa somehow magically better than brown rice, a staple grain that's been flying under the radar all this time? Brown rice hasn't really had its 15 minutes of fame, has it? It doesn't have a sexy, mysterious name like "quinoa," nor is it from an exotic place like South America, and no one is marketing it as a superfood.

"Certain foods are becoming 'trends' now," nutrition coach Carrie McMahon told POPSUGAR. "It skews people's perceptions, as they think a food is somehow healthier because its a trend."

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She noted that "quinoa has slightly more protein [than brown rice], but not such a huge amount that I tell clients, 'absolutely, you must have it.' If you prefer brown rice, eat that!"

As you'll see below in the chart, quinoa has over 50 percent more protein than brown rice (three more grams per cup) — but that only makes a significant difference if you eat an entire cup of cooked quinoa. Most of the time we're eating less (a serving size of cooked quinoa is a 3/4 cup portion).

1 cup cooked Calories Fat (g) Carbs (g) Fiber (g) Protein (g)
Quinoa 222 4 39 5 8
Brown Rice 216 1.8 44.8 3.5 5

In terms of micronutrients, quinoa has more magnesium and iron than brown rice, but brown rice has more selenium and manganese. They're about even in calcium.

Another consideration: quinoa is also much more expensive than brown rice — more than double the price per ounce if you're looking at Whole Foods' 365 organic line (a 16 ounce bag of organic quinoa costs $6, but a 20 ounce bag of brown rice costs only $3; that's 38 cents per ounce versus 15, respectively).

Don't get us wrong, we love quinoa. It's delicious, versatile, and truly nutritious. But so is brown rice! And while it may not be the star of the moment in the health world, it's just as good for you and slightly lower in calories and fat than quinoa. Our suggestion? Incorporate both of these healthy whole grains into your diet.

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