Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Is Oat Better? Let’s Compare
As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about quinoa and oatmeal. Quinoa is gaining in popularity causing many people to ask if one is better than the other. Let’s answer, which is better, quinoa or oatmeal?
Quinoa is better than oatmeal due to its higher percentage of minerals, fiber and protein. It has a lower glycemic index and slightly more flavor. It is more versatile and often served with breakfast, lunch or dinner while oatmeal is mainly a breakfast food.
This article will include a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in both. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, glycemic index, satiety index, prices, storage methods and health benefits.
In addition to coaching clients about them, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both prior to, during and after writing this article. Both foods are part of my own nutrition plan.
Quinoa vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference?
Quinoa has become more popular in recent years while oatmeal is known by almost everyone for a long time. For this reason, some people aren’t familiar with it and what it actually is.
Therefore, let’s answer a common question, are they the same?
Quinoa is not the same type of grain as oatmeal. It is the seed from a Chenopodium quinoa plant, while oatmeal is extracted from grass and is considered a whole grain.
It is described as a whole grain because it is consumed like one. However, it’s more accurately labeled as a “pseudo-cereal.”
Pseudo-cereals are foods taking on the qualities of whole grains but botanically do not match the definition of a whole grain. You cook and eat them like you would a whole grain, but they are not derived from grasses.
There are three common types:
White is less bitter and all three have slightly different cooking times and chewiness.
Because oats are the primary ingredient, the different types of oatmeal come down to how the oat is flattened and sliced.
There are four main types of oats:
- Rolled: Rolled oats are the classic oats used in most preparations. These are also called regular or old-fashioned oats.
- Steel-cut: Steel-cut oats is typically chewier and heartier. You can also use these as a substitution for traditional rice dishes, like risotto.
- Stone-ground: Stone-ground oats make it creamier.
- Quick: Quick oats, often called instant, are thinner rolled oats. These are often used in instant and microwavable versions because they don’t take as long to cook.
Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Nutrition Comparison
They both have similar nutrition profiles, although there are key differences between the two.
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in a 100-gram serving of each one cooked.
Some people say the serving size of quinoa is one-quarter cup. 100 grams of both foods is approximately 1/2 cup.
|Oatmeal (100 g)||Quinoa (100 g)|
|Protein||2.54 g||4.40 g|
|Carbohydrates||12.0 g||21.3 g|
|Fiber||1.7 g||2.8 g|
|Fat||1.52 g||1.92 g|
|Sugar||0.27 g||0.87 g|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||5 IU|
|Beta-carotene||0 mcg||0 mcg|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||0 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.005 mg||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||6 mcg||42 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.07 mg||0.10 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.01 mg||0.11 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.22 mg||0.41 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.31 mg||0.33 mg|
|Magnesium||27 mg||64 mg|
|Phosphorous||77 mg||152 mg|
|Potassium||70 mg||172 mg|
|Iron||0.90 mg||1.49 mg|
|Copper||0.07 mg||0.19 mg|
|Calcium||9 mg||17 mg|
|Zinc||1.00 mg||1.09 mg|
They both contain the same types of nutrients. At first it’s difficult to determine which one provides a higher percentage of nutrients than the other. This causes many people to ask, which is healthier?
Quinoa is healthier than oatmeal due to its higher percentage of protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals. It provides more B6, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B5, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, calcium and zinc.
Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. This is important because your body cannot make them on their own.
Oats are not considered a complete protein, although it has a high concentration of amino acids.
Oatmeal is healthy also and contains the same nutrients but less of them. Cooked it contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than quinoa. One cannot go wrong with which food you choose. The choice may depend on your particular goal.
Which to Choose?
In this section I’m going to take a close look at some of the most common goals people have. I’ll determine which one of the two foods is better for each goal.
Weight Loss and Calories
One such goal is weight loss. If you’re looking to lose some body weight or fat, you’ll want to find out which one is better.
Oatmeal is better for weight loss than quinoa due to its fewer calories per serving. Cooked it contains 71 calories per 100 grams while cooked quinoa contains 120 calories.
Although quinoa is high in protein and fiber which is also beneficial.
Quinoa contains more protein than oatmeal per serving. It contains 4.40 grams of protein per 100 grams while oatmeal contains 2.54 grams.
Cooked quinoa contains more fiber than cooked oatmeal. It contains 2.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams while oatmeal contains 1.7 grams.
Low Carb Diets and Carbohydrates
If you’re on a low carb or Keto diet, oatmeal is the better than quinoa. It contains 9.3 fewer grams of carbohydrates per 100 gram serving.
Bodybuilding and Muscle Fitness
Quinoa is better for building muscle and athletic performance due to its higher percentage of protein, carbohydrates and calories. The extra calories and protein help to bulk up, build and repair muscle. The extra carbs help to provide energy and increase athletic performance while exercising.
I’ll often eat quinoa in the mornings on the days I’m going to the gym to lift weights. The extra carbs help to give me more energy and make me feel stronger.
Check out the differences while comparing granola in my article here.
Taste and Texture of Quinoa and Oatmeal
Many times people choose one food over the other because of its taste. Since there are some similarities between the two, many people wonder and ask which one has a better taste?
Quinoa and oatmeal taste different. Oatmeal is blander and has less flavor. Quinoa has a nuttier flavor while oatmeal has an earthier flavor. Oatmeal’s texture is not smooth, but it is less chewier.
Quinoa has a mild flavor, unsweet and not bitter. It has a slightly nutty flavor, and its texture is fluffy and chewy. When it isn’t rinsed or pre rinsed prior to cooking, it may taste bitter. The red and black quinoa varieties are chewier than the white colored.
Old-fashioned rolled oats have a chewier texture than the smoother instant or quick oats.
To conduct some original research, I polled some readers, clients and members of food groups I belong to. I asked them which of the two foods taste better.
- 47% said they preferred the taste of oatmeal.
- 41% said they preferred the taste of quinoa.
- 12% said they had no preference.
For more research, I thought it would be fun to set up my own taste test at home. Both foods were seasoned the same way. It was a tie as half of the four people chose each one.
Find out how rice compared in my article here.
The following video describes a great way to make quinoa oatmeal.
Glycemic Index and Diabetics
Knowing the glycemic index of food is important especially if blood sugar levels are a concern. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is an important part of consuming healthy food.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 3. This may prove beneficial for some diabetics.
Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:
- Low-GI foods: 55 or under
- Medium-GI foods: 56-69
- High-GI foods: 70 or over
How blood sugars levels are affected:
- Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.
Having more knowledge of the glycemic index of food and how it raises blood sugar, many people wonder which one of the two has a higher GI.
Quinoa has a lower GI than oatmeal. Rolled oats have a GI of 55. Instant has a GI of 79. Steel-cut oats have a low GI under 55. Quinoa has a GI of 53.
The complex carbohydrates in quinoa digest slowly and enter the bloodstream slowly. This combination helps to prevent harmful blood sugar spikes.
Steel-cut has a lower GI because they are the least processed. Rolled are a little higher because they’ve been partially cooked. Quick oats have been steamed and rolled into thinner pieces to cook quicker. This process increases their GI.
Find out if grits has the better GI in my comparison article.
The satiety index was developed in 1995 from a study which tested 38 foods. The foods were ranked how they satisfied a person’s hunger. Foods scoring under 100 are considered less filling and foods scoring above 100 are considered more filling 4.
The table below shows the satiety scores of some foods.
|Food||Satiety Index Score|
Compared to white bread at 100%, it turns out oatmeal is 209% more satiating. Additionally, it is more satiating compared to wholemeal and grain bread as well.
Of all the 38 foods, it scored the fourth highest only beat by oranges, ling fish and boiled potatoes.
Unfortunately, quinoa was not one of the 38 foods tested. A study in 2005, by the University of Milan, tested the satiety of quinoa, oats and buckwheat compared to eating rice. All three had a higher satiating efficiency than rice.
High satiety foods are likely to have a high score for the following reasons:
- High in protein.
- High in fiber.
- High in volume (foods containing a lot of water or air).
- Low in energy density (foods low in calories for their weight).
Find out how brown rice compared in my comparison article.
It seems every time I check out at the supermarket the price is higher than the last. The cost of food certainly matters to most, especially with the rising costs of everything.
The price may sway your decision about which one to use in your meals more often. Therefore, let’s take a close look at the prices of each one.
Quinoa costs more than oatmeal per serving. The average price for quick oats is $0.19 per 1/2 cup serving. The average price for quinoa is $0.45 per 1/4 cup serving.
To conduct original research, I decided to conduct a search of various different stores to compare the prices of each one.
I first visited the Shoprite supermarket and the following is what I found:
- Wholesome Pantry Quinoa
- $3.99 per 12 oz container (7 servings) equaling $0.57 per 1/4 cup serving
- Quaker quick oats
- $4.99 per 18 oz container (13 servings) equaling $0.38 per 1/2 cup serving
I then checked Walmart:
- Great Value (store brand) Quinoa
- $3.27 per 16 oz container (10 servings) equaling $0.33 per 1/4 cup serving
- Quaker quick oats
- $4.98 per 42 oz container (30 servings) equaling $0.17 per 1/2 cup serving
- Quaker quick oats
- $2.73 per 18 oz container (13 servings) equaling $0.21 per 1/2 cup serving
Find out how bulgur compared to quinoa in my artice.
How To Store
Whichever you choose or have on hand, proper storage is crucial. How you store food can affect how long it lasts before going bad and how it tastes. Therefore, let’s examine how to store each one.
The best way to store unopened or opened quinoa is to keep it in a cool, dry place away from the sun or indirect heat. Opened it should be tightly covered and sealed in its original container, glass container, plastic container or a resealable bag. Opened and uncooked quinoa does not have to be refrigerated.
Store it cooked in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 3-5 days. Do not leave it cooked out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
Store unopened dry oatmeal in a cool, dry place away from the heat and sun. Opened it should be tightly covered in its original container, glass or plastic container or resealable bag. Opened, uncooked does not have to be refrigerated.
Always check the dates on the packaging. Typically, the “best if used by date” is a quality suggestion 5.
At home I store my oats in a kitchen cabinet away from heat and light. It always keeps it fresh and I never have any quality issues.
I compared Cream of Wheat, find out if it’s the better breakfast food in my article here.
The nutrients provided by both foods are similar, just in different amounts provided per serving. Therefore, the benefits are the same but one of the two may be better than the other.
Of the six B vitamins listed below, quinoa provides a higher percentage of all of them.
The B vitamins provided include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Brain function.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Nerve function.
- Red blood cells.
- Energy levels.
A lack of B vitamins has been associated with oxidative stress and neural inflammation. In a study released in 2018 32 healthy adults were given B vitamin supplementation for six months. The results indicated preliminary evidence B vitamin supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammation 6.
- Quinoa contains 1.1 more grams of fiber per 100 grams.
Both foods are high in soluble fiber, which is helpful for many reasons 7. What makes fiber soluble is it dissolves in water.
Soluble fiber is known for the following:
- Decrease the risk of diabetes by managing the blood glucose levels.
- Helps avoid constipation and have a more regular stool.
- Help overall digestive health.
- Aids greatly in weight management because it allows you to feel full faster and eat less.
Check out the differences between the red and white quinoa varieties in my article here.
- Quinoa contains 8 more mg of calcium per 100 grams.
Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 8.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Help the muscles to function properly.
- Helps nerve function.
- Build and maintain strong bones.
- Quinoa contains 37 more mg of magnesium per 100 grams.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 9.
Magnesium helps control the following:
- Blood sugar
- Blood pressure
- Nerve function
One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 10.
Find out if there is a difference in benefits between steel cut and regular in my article.
- Quinoa contains 75 more mg of phosphorus per 100 grams.
Phosphorus has been shown in scientific studies to help with the following:
- Help the body store and manage energy.
- Muscle contraction.
- Muscle recovery.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
- Promote teeth and bone strength.
Find out how the white and black varieties compared in my article here.
- Quinoa contains 102 more mg of potassium per 100 grams.
Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 11.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 12. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.
- Quinoa contains 0.59 more mg of iron per 100 grams.
Much higher in iron than other grains, oats is an excellent choice if you need to get your daily value of iron. Iron is essential in the creation of red blood cells and is a necessary part of any healthy diet.
Iron is also vital for growth and development, as some hormones need iron to be appropriately balanced.
Saturated fat is one of the dietary fats. Along with trans fat, it is an unhealthy fat which large amounts should be avoided when possible.
According to The American Heart Association, it can cause problems with bad cholesterol levels which may increase your risk of heart disease.
The quinoa and oats are low in saturated fat. Using both in a diet low in these fats may help for lowering cholesterol and is another health benefit.
Oat and Quinoa are Gluten-Free
Quinoa and oats are naturally gluten-free and might be a great substitute to other gluten-heavy items of a similar taste. Even those who don’t have a completely gluten-free diet may benefit from cutting down on their gluten.
Important: Although both are gluten free, they may come in contact with gluten-containing grains in storage or during transportation. Most of the Quaker products have solved this issue and label those products gluten free. Always check the label of your food and quinoa to determine if its gluten free.
Is there a difference between overnight oats and regular? Find out in my comparison article here.
If you have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to email us. You can find an email on our contact page.
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Eggs vs Oatmeal – Which Is Better? Let’s Compare
Muesli vs Oatmeal – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare
Oatmeal vs Porridge: Are They The Same?
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Oatmeal vs Cereal – Which is Better? Let’s CompareArticle Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
- USDA: Cereals, oats, regular and quick, unenriched, cooked with water (includes boiling and microwaving), without salt[↩]
- USDA: Quinoa, cooked[↩]
- Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: A satiety index of common foods[↩]
- Michigan State University: Dry oatmeal needs careful handling[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of a High-Dose Vitamin B Multivitamin Supplement on the Relationship between Brain Metabolism and Blood Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress: A Randomized Control Trial[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention[↩]
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[↩]
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[↩]
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[↩]
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[↩]