It’s a good question but it depends on what you mean by healthier. Quinoa is very high in fibre and protein which makes it a good choice if you’re vegan. It also contains significant amounts of amino acids and vitamins. It’s not enough to say quinoa vs rice though – what type of rice do you mean?
In terms of nutritional content white rice has much lower amounts of fibre and protein so it would be best eaten in moderation. Brown rice and wild rice, however, contain more of quinoa’s benefits. Let’s compare them all.
Every 100g of cooked quinoa contains 4.4g of protein and 2.2g of fiber. It also boasts many of the minerals your body needs to function at its best including manganese, copper, phosphorus, folate, magnesium, iron and zinc. Nutritionists say if you eat a balanced diet you should have no need to take vitamin supplements.
Quinoa seems to help confirm that. It also contains all 9 of the amino acids your body needs. As I mentioned above quinoa is vegan and it is also gluten-free making it another source of carbohydrates for celiacs and those who are gluten intolerant. Quinoa has a faintly nutty flavor and would go well with a range of accompaniments.
100g of cooked white rice contains only 2.6g of protein and 0.4g of fiber so it won’t keep you as full as the quinoa will. White rice does contain manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and zinc but in much lower quantities than in quinoa.
For example, a cup of quinoa has 32% of your body’s daily requirement of manganese whereas white rice only has 23%. As a plus point, white rice does have a more subtle flavour which can work better accompanied by strongly flavoured sauces. All types of rice are also gluten-free.
Brown rice still has its husk so it has more nutritional value than white rice. It has the same amount of protein as white rice but substantially more fiber at 1.8g. The amount of minerals it provides is closer to quinoa but quinoa still has a higher content of everything except manganese.
Brown rice does win in its B vitamin content however making it a good choice if you eat a meat-free diet. Also in brown rice’s favor, it stays firmer when cooked and can stand up well to stir-frying for example. It has a sweet, mildly nutty flavor.
Wild rice is actually from a different family to brown or white rice – it’s a member of the grass family. For that reason it’s composition is much closer to quinoa that it is to the other types of rice.
Wild rice’s protein content jumps into second place at 4g and it has 1.8g of fiber. Like quinoa, it also contains all 9 of your required amino acids as well as large amounts of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Wild rice does have a more strongly nutty flavor which may affect which dishes you want to pair it with.
Which is healthier?
If we take it purely on nutritional value quinoa just sneaks ahead of wild rice as the winner. It wins in highest protein content, highest fiber, complete amino acid complex and also the largest number of vitamins. If you’re looking for a carbohydrate to add to your meal then quinoa will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
This does not mean you need to swear off rice though! As you’ve seen both wild and brown rice do still have significant nutritional benefits and are still high-quality choices. Even though it comes in last place don’t write off white rice either, as with everything eating it in moderation is fine. If you like to add spices check out the Flavor God.