Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare


Quinoa and oatmeal are two healthy foods with quinoa gaining in popularity. Both have their own nutritional values 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. Quinoa has a lower glycemic index than oatmeal. Quinoa has slightly more flavor than oatmeal and is more versatile with meals. Quinoa is 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.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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 quinoa and what it actually is.

Therefore, let’s answer a common question, are quinoa and oatmeal the same?

Quinoa is not the same type of grain as oatmeal. Quinoa is the seed from a Chenopodium quinoa plant, while oatmeal is extracted from grass and is considered a whole grain.

Quinoa

Quinoa 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 of quinoa:

  1. White
  2. Black
  3. Red

White is less bitter and all three have slightly different cooking times and chewiness.

Oatmeal

Because oats are the primary ingredient in oatmeal, 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 oatmeal. These are also called regular or old-fashioned oats. 
  • Steel-cut: Oatmeal made from steel-cut oats is typically chewier and heartier. You can also use these oats as a substitution for traditional rice dishes, like risotto. 
  • Stone-ground: Stone-ground oats make creamy oatmeal. 
  • Quick: Quick oats, often called instant oats, are thinner rolled oats. These are often used in instant oatmeal and microwavable versions because the oats don’t take as long to cook. 

Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Nutrient Comparison

Quinoa and oatmeal have similar nutritional 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 cooked quinoa and unenriched oatmeal.

  Oatmeal (100 g) Quinoa (100 g)
Calories 71 120
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

Nutrient Resources 1 2

Quinoa and oatmeal 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 more healthier quinoa or oatmeal?

Quinoa is healthier than oatmeal due to its higher percentage of protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals. Quinoa provides more B6, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B5, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, calcium and zinc than oatmeal.

Oatmeal is healthy also and contains the same nutrients but less of them. Cooked oatmeal contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than quinoa. One cannot go wrong with which food you choose. The choice may depend on your particular goal.

One such goal is weight loss. If you’re looking to lose some body weight or fat, oatmeal is better for weight loss due to its fewer calories per serving. Cooked oatmeal contains 71 calories per 100 grams while cooked quinoa contains 120 calories.

What has more protein quinoa or oatmeal?

Quinoa contains more protein than oatmeal per serving. Cooked quinoa contains 4.40 grams of protein per 100 grams while cooked oatmeal contains 2.54 grams.

Which has more fiber quinoa or oatmeal?

Cooked quinoa contains more fiber than cooked oatmeal. Cooked quinoa contains 2.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams while cooked oatmeal contains 1.7 grams.

Which has more carbohydrates quinoa or oatmeal? 

Cooked quinoa contains 21.3 grams of carbohydrates per 100 gram serving while cooked oatmeal contains 12.0 grams. If you’re on a low carb or Keto diet, oatmeal is the better choice.

Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.

Which is better for bodybuilding, quinoa or oatmeal?

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 gain weight, muscle and repair muscle. The extra carbs help to provide energy and increase athletic performance while exercising.

Check out the differences between oatmeal and granola in my article, Granola vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.

quinoa and oatmeal nutrient comparison

Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Taste and Texture

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, does quinoa taste like oatmeal?

Quinoa and oatmeal taste different. Oatmeal is blander and has less flavor than quinoa. Quinoa has a nuttier flavor while oatmeal has an earthier flavor. Oatmeal’s texture is not smooth, but quinoa is chewier than oatmeal.

What does quinoa taste like?

Quinoa has a mild flavor and is unsweet and not bitter. It has a slightly nutty flavor, and its texture is fluffy and chewy. Quinoa which isn’t rinsed or pre rinsed prior to cooking may taste bitter. Red and black quinoa is chewier than the white colored quinoa.

Old-fashioned rolled oats have a chewier texture than the smoother instant oatmeal.

Find out how oatmeal compared to rice in my article, Oatmeal vs Rice: Which Is More Healthy? (We Find Out).

Quinoa and Oatmeal Glycemic Index

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. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 4

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 ask, does quinoa or oatmeal have a higher GI?

Quinoa has a lower GI than oatmeal. Rolled oats have a GI of 55. Instant oatmeal 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 oats have a lower GI because they are the least processed. Rolled oats 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 or oatmeal has the better GI in my article, Grits vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.

Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Satiety Index

Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of being full and the loss of appetite which occurs after eating food. The satiety index is a scale showing how full a person feels after eating a certain food. 

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 5.

The table below shows the satiety scores of oatmeal and a few other filling food.

Food Satiety Index Score
Bananas 118%
Brown rice 132%
Lentils 133%
Wholemeal Bread 157%
Brown pasta 188%
Oatmeal w/milk 209%

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, oatmeal 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 food like oatmeal and quinoa are likely to have a high satiety score for the following reasons:

  1. High in protein.
  2. High in fiber.
  3. High in volume (foods containing a lot of water or air).
  4. Low in energy density (foods low in calories for their weight).

Oatmeal seems to fit into all four listed above.

  1. Oatmeal contains 7.9 grams of protein per 3/4 cup.
  2. Oatmeal provides 6.1 grams of fiber per 3/4 cup.
  3. Oatmeal weighs a good amount when prepared in relation to its calories.
  4. Oatmeal cooked is only 71 calories per 100 grams.

Find out if oatmeal or brown rice has the better satiety index in my article, Brown Rice vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.

Quinoa and Oatmeal Costs

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, which costs more, quinoa or oatmeal?

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. 

I decided to conduct a search of various different stores to compare the price of quinoa and oatmeal.

I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of quinoa and oatmeal:

  • 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 for quinoa and oatmeal prices:

  • 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

Check out Amazon for quinoa and oatmeal products. Their prices are often more affordable.

Find out how bulgur compared to quinoa in my article, Bulgur vs Quinoa: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.

a bowl of quinoa
A bowl of quinoa with tomatoes and fruit.

How To Store Quinoa and Oatmeal

Whichever you choose or have on hand, proper storage is crucial. How you store quinoa, oatmeal, vegetables or fruit can affect how long they last before going bad and how they taste. Therefore, how do you store quinoa?

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 quinoa should be tightly covered and sealed in its original container, glass container, plastic container or a resealable bag. Opened, uncooked quinoa does not have to be refrigerated.

Store cooked quinoa in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 3-5 days. Do not leave cooked quinoa out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.

How do you store oatmeal?

Store unopened dry oatmeal in a cool, dry place away from the heat and sun. Opened oatmeal should be tightly covered in its original container, glass or plastic container or resealable bag. Opened, uncooked oatmeal does not have to be refrigerated.

Opened oatmeal should be stored up to one year. Always check the dates on the packaging. Typically, the “best if used by date” is a quality suggestion 6.

I compared everything between oatmeal and Cream of Wheat in my article, Cream of Wheat vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.

Quinoa and Oatmeal Health Benefits

The nutrients provided by quinoa and oatmeal 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.

B Vitamins

Of the six B vitamins listed below, quinoa provides a higher percentage of all of them compared cooked oatmeal.

The B vitamins provided include the following:

  1. B1 (thiamin)
  2. B2 (riboflavin)
  3. B3 (niacin)
  4. B5
  5. B6
  6. B9 (folate)

B vitamins help support the following:

  • Digestion.
  • 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 7.

Soluble Fiber

  • Quinoa contains 2.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
  • Oatmeal contains 1.7 grams of fiber per 100 grams.

Both foods are high in soluble fiber, which is helpful for many reasons 8. 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 red and white quinoa in my article, Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: What’s The Difference?

Calcium

  • Quinoa contains 17 mg of calcium per 100 grams
  • Oatmeal contains 9 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 9.

Calcium also helps the following:

  • Help the muscles to function properly.
  • Helps nerve function.
  • Build and maintain strong bones.

Magnesium

  • Quinoa contains 64 mg of magnesium per 100 grams
  • Oatmeal contains 27 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 10.

Magnesium helps control the following:

  • Muscle
  • Insomnia
  • 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 11.

Find out if there is a difference in benefits between steel cut and regular oatmeal in my article, Steel Cut Oatmeal vs Oatmeal: Which Is Better? Let’s Compare.

Phosphorus

  • Quinoa contains 152 mg of phosphorus per 100 grams
  • Oatmeal contains 77 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 white quinoa compared to black quinoa in my article, White Quinoa vs Black Quinoa: What’s The Difference?

Potassium

  • Quinoa contains 172 mg of potassium per 100 grams
  • Oatmeal contains 70 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 12.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 13. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.

Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 14.

Iron

  • Quinoa contains 1.49 mg of iron per 100 grams
  • Oatmeal contains 0.90 mg of iron per 100 grams

Much higher in iron than other grains, oatmeal 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. 

Gluten-Free Alternative

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. 

Recently it has been discussed many more people have at least a small amount of gluten intolerance and are unaware of it. Having less gluten in your diet is a good choice for most. 

Important: Although oats and quinoa are gluten free, they may come in contact with gluten-containing grains in storage or during transportation. Most of the Quaker oat products have solved this issue and label those products gluten free. Always check the label of your oatmeal or quinoa to determine if its gluten free.

Is there a difference between overnight oats and oatmeal? Find out in my article, Overnight Oats vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.

Additional Article Resources 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Find out how quinoa compared to lentils in my article, Quinoa vs Lentils: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.

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Eggs vs Oatmeal – Which Is Better? Let’s Compare

Muesli vs Oatmeal – What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

Instant Oatmeal vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference?

Oatmeal vs Porridge: Are They The Same?

Oatmeal Vs. Oat Bran: A Comparison

Bread vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison

Oatmeal vs Cereal – Which is Better? Let’s Compare

 

Article 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.
  1. USDA: Cereals, oats, regular and quick, unenriched, cooked with water (includes boiling and microwaving), without salt[]
  2. USDA: Quinoa, cooked[]
  3. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: A satiety index of common foods[]
  6. Michigan State University: Dry oatmeal needs careful handling[]
  7. 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[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention[]
  9. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  11. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  12. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  13. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  14. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  15. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect on appetite control of minor cereal and pseudo cereal products[]
  16. University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Keen on Quinoa[]
  17. Oxford University: International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002[]
  18. Quaker: How to Prepare Quaker Oats[]
  19. Quaker: How does Quaker make Gluten Free Oats?[]
  20. Harvard T.H. Chan: Oats[]
  21. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Instant Oatmeal Increases Satiety and Reduces Energy Intake Compared to a Ready-to-Eat Oat-Based Breakfast Cereal: A Randomized Crossover Trial[]
  22. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity: when gluten free is not a fad[]
  23. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Oatmeal-Containing Breakfast is Associated with Better Diet Quality and Higher Intake of Key Food Groups and Nutrients Compared to Other Breakfasts in Children[]
  24. Oldways Whole Grains Council: Whole Grains A to Z[]
  25. University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Oatmeal – Whole Grain Goodness[]
  26. Iowa State University: Nutrition Education: Oatmeal[]
  27. Iowa State University: Keen On Quinoa[]
  28. Purdue: Quinoa[]
  29. NC Cooperative Extension: Pass the Quinoa, Please![]
  30. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: Quinoa[]
  31. University of Florida: Facts About Quinoa[]
  32. University of Arkansas: Gluten-Free Grain Quinoa Gaining in Popularity[]
  33. University of Florida Health: Healthy food trends –quinoa[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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