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Is Quinoa Keto Friendly?

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FACT CHECKED
  Published on August 17th, 2021
  Reading time: 3 minutes
  Last modified August 16th, 2021

In the age of kale and kombucha, so-called superfoods are everywhere! The quinoa craze hit a few years ago and based on its hold in popularity, is here to stay. But, why is quinoa seen as healthy? Are there any health benefits? Is quinoa keto? Let’s dive into it.

 

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa, pronounced keen-waa, is a whole grain plant and pseudocereal. The part of quinoa that is commonly consumed comes from the seeds of this flowering plant. Quinoa is commonly consumed as a substitute for rice and included as a side or in salads.

 

Quinoa Nutrition Information

A 100g serving of quinoa (about half a cup) contains 120 calories, 1.92 grams of fat, 4.4 grams of protein, 21.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.8 grams of fiber. [1]

 

Quinoa Health Benefits

Vitamins & Minerals

Quinoa is rich in various vitamins and minerals including manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, and vitamin E.

Additionally, quinoa also contains several different  antioxidants. Quercetin, kaempferol, and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) are all antioxidants, which may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. [2] [3]

Protein

Quinoa is often seen as a great source of  plant-based protein; however, it may be tough to get the protein you are looking for in quinoa alone. One cup of quinoa only contains 8g of protein. Quinoa is voluminous and it can be difficult to consume enough to get a useful amount of protein from it. If you’re looking for high-protein content, it might be best to add in a meat or tofu (if vegetarian/vegan) source in addition.

Fiber

Quinoa contains about 5g of fiber per 1 cup serving. The average person aims for 20-30g of fiber a day, so 1 cup would provide around 15-20% of your total daily fiber needs.

 

Is Quinoa Keto?

Quinoa is high in carbs and low in healthy fats. One cup of quinoa contains 39.4 grams of carbs and 5.18g of fiber. Most individuals following a ketogenic diet eat less than 20 grams of carbs per day. That means that just one cup is enough to kick you out of ketosis.

If you are on a low-carb diet that isn’t strictly keto, or you are able to eat around 50 grams of carbs a day without getting kicked out of ketosis, you may be able to eat quinoa in small portions. Just watch your carb count and add in small quantities to fit your macros. Add in some healthy fats, like olive oil or avocado oil, to help make it more keto-friendly!

 

Keto Quinoa Alternatives

Quinoa might not be keto, but there are plenty of alternatives that you can include in your low-carb diet! Non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, can provide  micronutrients, fibers, and similar amounts of protein.

Cauliflower Rice is a fantastic keto alternative to quinoa and can be used in most recipes.

 

quinoa keto alternatives

 

Concluding Thoughts

Quinoa may be  gluten-free, but it’s not grain-free and it is primarily made from carbohydrates. That means that no, it is not considered keto in the traditional sense. If you follow a less strict diet and consume a higher carb intake than a standard ketogenic diet, you might be able to add quinoa into your diet, but why not stick to a lower-carb alternative instead? Non-starchy vegetables can provide more micronutrients and  fiber.

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