Is Quinoa Gluten Free?

Several years ago my friend asked me if I had ever heard of a new trendy grain called quinoa.  She went on to tell me that it’s gluten free, tastes good, and goes with so many dishes!  I hesitated to burst her bubble and inform her that this wasn’t a “new” grain at all! It had originated in the mountains of Peru, Chile, and Bolivia, and had been around for 5,000-7,000 years! 

Quinoa is categorized as a grain but technically is a seed. It comes from the spinach family and is the only grain to have all nine essential amino acids making it a protein powerhouse!

Is Quinoa Gluten Free?

Yes! Quinoa is naturally a gluten free grain. However, even though it’s naturally gluten free, it’s considered a high-risk grain since it is often harvested with wheat, barley, and rye.  Cross contact may occur making it no longer safe for those with extreme sensitivities to gluten. If you have a severe allergy or celiac disease, it’s important to buy quinoa that is labeled or certified gluten free. Fortunately, Arrowhead Mills Organic Quinoa is gluten free.

Does Quinoa have Carbohydrates?

Quinoa has about 39g of carbohydrates per ½ cup serving (cooked).  Despite the high carbohydrate amount, quinoa is low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a scale that measures how carbohydrates impact your blood sugar. Quinoa has a low glycemic index because it is rich in fiber and protein which help to regulate the rise and fall of blood sugar.  If you follow a low-carb or keto-style diet, you will need to monitor your serving size of quinoa.

Should I Eat Quinoa? 

Quinoa is high in fiber and protein as well as many vitamins and minerals that are lacking in many diets. It also offers a healthy, whole food source of carbohydrates and is rich in magnesium, potassium, iron, and folate.  It’s also helped many of my clients with weight loss and weight management since it’s very satiating. As a Registered Dietitian, I highly recommend adding this amazing grain into your routine.

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