Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: What’s The Difference?


Red and white quinoa are two of the more popular quinoa types. Besides the difference in colors, many people wonder how they’re different. Let’s answer, what’s the difference between red quinoa and white quinoa?

Red quinoa has a stronger flavor, is chewier and takes a few more minutes to cook than white quinoa. Red quinoa is colored red while white quinoa is colored an off white. Red and white quinoa contain a similar amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, although red quinoa has more antioxidants.

This article will cover all the differences between the two quinoas starting with a side-by-side nutrient comparison. In addition, I’ll compare their tastes, textures, prices, glycemic index and health benefits.

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.

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.

Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: Nutrient and Antioxidant Comparison

Red and white quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) have similar nutritional profiles. The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in 100-grams of raw red quinoa and white quinoa.

To keep things as equal as possible, both are organic and from the same brand, Inca’s Gold.

  Red Quinoa (100 g) White Quinoa (100 g)
Calories 373 376
Protein 13.3 g 13.3 g
Carbohydrates 71.1 g 68.9 g
Fiber 8.2 g 7.1 g
Fat 4.44 g 5.56 g
Sugar 0 g 0 g
Vitamin A 0 IU 0 IU
Vitamin C 0 mg 0 mg
Iron 4.8 mg 6.0 mg
Calcium 67 mg 67 mg
More antioxidants X  

Nutrient Resources 1 2

Red and white quinoa 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 red quinoa or white quinoa?

Red quinoa is healthier than white quinoa due to its higher percentage of antioxidants, antioxidant activity and fiber than white quinoa. Studies published in 2012 and 2015 in Food Chemistry and Food and Nutrition Sciences found red quinoa has more phenolic and antioxidant profiles than white quinoa.

The remaining macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are similar between the red and white quinoa. Therefore, white quinoa is healthy also, it just contains a little less antioxidants.

Red quinoa has more antioxidants than white due to its darker color. The red quinoa gets its color from a plant pigment called betacyanins 3.

Betacyanins are powerful antioxidants giving many red and purple plants their color 4.

The two main betacyanins found in red quinoa are:

  • Betanin
  • Isobetanin

White and red quinoa share the following antioxidant phenolic compounds:

  • Phenolic acids
  • Vanillic acid
  • Ferulic acid
  • Quercetin
  • Kaempferol
  • Glycosides

Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: Which to Choose

Both quinoas are considered healthy, and you really can’t go wrong choosing either one. Some people will alternate between the two to avoid boredom. They even sell a tricolor version containing both red and white, plus black.

Some people have different goals which may sway your decision, one way or the other. Let’s take a look at the most common goals.

Weight Loss

The most popular goal may be weight loss. If you want to shed some extra pounds, you may ask, which quinoa is better for weight loss, red quinoa or white quinoa?

Red and white quinoa are similar for weight loss due to their similar amount of calories per serving. Red quinoa contains 168 calories per 1/4 cup dry. White quinoa contains 169 calories per 1/4 cup dry.

The one calorie difference between the two isn’t large enough to make a difference when the goal is weight loss.

Including red or white quinoa as part of a well-balanced nutrition plan will help gain the maximum weight loss benefits.

Low-carb or Keto Diet

If your goal is a Keto or low-carb diet then carbohydrates are your number one concern. If you’re on a low-carb diet, you may ask which has more carbohydrates, red quinoa or white quinoa?

Red and white quinoa is similar for a low-carb, Keto diet due to its similar amount of carbohydrates per serving. Red quinoa contains 32 grams of carbohydrates per 1/4 cup dry. White quinoa contains 31 grams of carbohydrates per 1/4 cup dry. 

Another consideration for low-carb diets is the amount of fat. Red quinoa provides 2 grams of fat per 1/4 cup dry and white quinoa 2.5 grams.

Bodybuilding

If your goal is to gain lean muscle mass there’s a good chance you’re lifting weights at home or in the gym. Which is better for bodybuilding, red quinoa or white quinoa?

Red quinoa and white quinoa are similar for bodybuilding due to its similar number of protein, carbohydrates and calories. Red and white quinoa contain 5.8 grams of protein per 1/4 dry.

Supplements for bodybuilding are expensive, and the costs add up pretty fast. Considering the price of both, red quinoa is a little higher and more difficult to find.

The higher priced red quinoa which is also more difficult to find may sway your decision to white for bodybuilding.

For more details about the prices check out the price section below.

Gluten Free

Red and white quinoa are naturally gluten free. In addition, both quinoas can be made into flour and used as a substitute for regular flour in gluten free recipes.

My Vitamix blender I use at home can make quinoa, almond, cashew or any nut flour in seconds. Check out my blender review here, Vitamix Venturist V1220 Review

red quinoa vs white quinoa comparison and differences

Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: 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 red quinoa taste like white quinoa?

Red and white quinoa have a nutty and earthy flavor but the red quinoa is nuttier. The difference between the two is the texture. Although both are fluffy, the red quinoa is slightly chewier and less fluffy than white quinoa. If either quinoa isn’t rinsed before cooking, they may taste bitter.

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.

I decided to poll my clients, readers and people in food groups I belong to. I asked them, do prefer the taste of red or white quinoa?

  • 58% said they preferred the taste of white quinoa.
  • 39% said they preferred the taste of red quinoa.
  • 3% said they had no preference.

How to Cook Red Quinoa

Most store bought quinoa is pre-rinsed, if it is not pre-rinsed the red quinoa should be rinsed to avoid a bitter taste.

  • In a pot combine 1 cup of red quinoa with 2 cups of water or broth.
  • Bring to a rolling boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is evaporated (about 15 minutes).
  • Let stand 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.
  • Salt or add spices to taste.

How to Cook White Quinoa

Most store bought quinoa is pre-rinsed, if it is not pre-rinsed the white quinoa should be rinsed to avoid a bitter taste.

  • In a pot combine 1 cup of white quinoa with 2 cups of water or broth.
  • Bring to a rolling boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is evaporated (about 10-15 minutes).
  • Let stand 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.
  • Salt or add spices to taste.

Quinoa cooking tips:

  • Red quinoa takes about 3-5 minutes longer to cook.
  • Quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed.
  • If it’s properly cooked, you can see little, curled ends.
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa makes about 3 1/2 to 4 cups cooked.
  • Quinoa should be cooked and not eaten raw.
  • For finicky kids, consider adding small amounts of quinoa to cookies, salads, meatballs or even macaroni and cheese.

Substituting Red and White Quinoa

Are red and white quinoa interchangeable?

Red and white quinoa are interchangeable with each other in recipes. They can both be used in recipes, side dishes, salads and baking. Red quinoa holds its texture better and is used more for salads but is not as good for baked goods.

Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: Price

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, red quinoa or white quinoa?

Red quinoa costs more than white quinoa per serving. The average price for red quinoa is $13.48 per 1 pound bag. The average cost for white quinoa is $10.99 per 1 pound bag.

There didn’t seem to be a difference in price between white or tri-color quinoa in every store I checked.

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

I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of red and white quinoa:

  • Wholesome Pantry White Quinoa
    • $3.99 per 12 oz bag (7 servings) equaling $0.57 per 1/4 cup serving
  • Wholesome Pantry Tri-Color (White, Red, Black)
    • $3.99 per 12 oz bag (7 servings) equaling $0.57 per 1/4 cup serving

I then checked Walmart for the prices of red quinoa and white quinoa:

  • Food to Live White Quinoa
    • $10.99 per 1 pound bag
  • Food to Live Organic Red Quinoa
    • $13.48 per 1 pound bag 

I then checked Amazon for the prices of red and white quinoa:

  • Bob’s Red Mill Red Quinoa
    • $9.41 per 13 oz bag (8 servings) equaling $1.17 per 1/4 cup serving
  • Bob’s Red Mill White Quinoa
    • $8.49 per 13 oz bag (8 servings) equaling $1.06 per 1/4 cup serving

Check out Amazon for quinoa products. Their prices are often more affordable depending on the seller and the sales.

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

Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: Glycemic Index

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. This is true for diabetics or anyone worrying about their health 5.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 6. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 7

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 red quinoa or white quinoa have a higher glycemic index?

Red quinoa has a higher glycemic index than white quinoa although both are considered low-GI foods. Red quinoa cooked in boiling water for 15 minutes has a glycemic index of 54. White quinoa cooked in boiling water for 15 minutes has a glycemic index of 50.

After boiling for 15 minutes red quinoa has a glycemic load of 24 and white quinoa 23. 

Find out how white quinoa compared to black quinoa in my article, White Quinoa vs Black Quinoa: What’s The Difference?

Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: 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 8.

The table below shows the satiety scores of some grains, oats, rice and a few other filling foods.

Food Satiety Index Score
White bread 100%
Brown rice 132%
White rice 138%
Lentils 133%
Wholemeal Bread 157%
Brown pasta 188%
Oatmeal w/milk 209%

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 9.

The study, or any other study I was able to find about satiety, didn’t reference whether the quinoa tested was red or white. Since rice has satiety scores of 132% and 138%, we may be able to assume quinoa has a higher satiety score than 138%.

High satiety food like red quinoa and white 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).

Quinoa seems to fit into all four listed above.

  1. Cooked quinoa contains 4.4 grams of protein per 3/4 cup.
  2. Cooked quinoa provides 2.8 grams of fiber per 3/4 cup.
  3. Quinoa absorbs water during cooking and weighs a good amount when prepared in relation to its calories.
  4. Cooked quinoa is 120 calories per 100 grams.
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The Health Benefits of Red Quinoa and White Quinoa

The nutrients provided by red and white quinoa are similar. For this reason, the health benefits offered are also similar.

Although red quinoa contains more antioxidants and antioxidant activity than white. Red quinoa may help better fighting cell damage and prevent disease. Let’s take a closer look at the nutrients in quinoa and how they may benefit health.

Soluble Fiber

  • Cooked quinoa contains 2.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.

Both red and white quinoa are high in soluble fiber, which is helpful for many reasons 10. 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. 

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

Protein

  • Cooked quinoa contains 4.4 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Both quinoa are a good source of protein. Protein may help benefit the following:

  • Reduce appetite
  • Build and repair muscle
  • Boost metabolism
  • Weight loss

B Vitamins

The B vitamins provided by cooked quinoa include the following:

  1. B1 (thiamin/0.10 mg per 100 grams)
  2. B2 (riboflavin/0.11 mg per 100 grams)
  3. B3 (niacin/0.41 mg per 100 grams)
  4. B5 (0.33 mg per 100 grams)
  5. B6 (0.12 mg per 100 grams)
  6. B9 (folate/42 mcg per 100 grams)

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 11.

Iron

  • Cooked quinoa contains 1.49 mg of iron per 100 grams.

Quinoa 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.

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

red quinoa uncooked
Uncooked red quinoa

Calcium

  • Cooked quinoa contains 17 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 12.

Calcium also helps the following:

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

Potassium

  • Cooked quinoa contains 172 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 13.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 14. 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 15.

Magnesium

  • Cooked quinoa contains 64 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 16.

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 17.

Phosphorus

  • Cooked quinoa contains 152 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.

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

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Couscous vs Quinoa: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison

Barley vs Quinoa: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison

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

Organic Lentils vs. Conventional Lentils: Which is Better?

Brown Rice vs White Rice: Which is Better for Bodybuilding?

 

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: Organic White Quinoa[]
  2. USDA: Organic Red Quinoa, Red[]
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Characterisation of phenolics, betanins and antioxidant activities in seeds of three Chenopodium quinoa Willd. genotypes[]
  4. Scientific Research Journals: Total Phenolic Content and Antioxidant Activity of Red and Yellow Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) Seeds as Affected by Baking and Cooking Conditions[]
  5. The University of Sydney: Your GI Shopping Guide[]
  6. Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods[]
  7. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: A satiety index of common foods[]
  9. Pub Med: Effect on appetite control of minor cereal and pseudo cereal products[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention[]
  11. 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[]
  12. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  13. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  14. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
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  16. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  17. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  18. Iowa State University: Keen On Quinoa[]
  19. Purdue: Quinoa[]
  20. NC Cooperative Extension: Pass the Quinoa, Please![]
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  22. University of Florida: Facts About Quinoa[]
  23. University of Arkansas: Gluten-Free Grain Quinoa Gaining in Popularity[]
  24. University of Florida Health: Healthy food trends –quinoa[]
  25. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect on appetite control of minor cereal and pseudo cereal products[]
  26. University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Keen on Quinoa[]
  27. Oxford University: International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002[]
  28. Whole Grains Council: Types Of Quinoa[]
  29. Oregon State University Extension: Discovering the Ancient Grain Quinoa[]
  30. Food and Agriculture Organization: Quinoa[]
  31. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Innovations in Health Value and Functional Food Development of Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) []
  32. Harvard T.H. Chan: 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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