Quinoa as Superfood: How super is it?

What exactly is superfood? Meet quinoa.

In Japan(and a few other countries as well), quinoa is dubbed by some manufacturers as ‘superfood’. The criteria for the concept of superfood are not well-specified, but usually by that term people mean a food item with a large amount of every nutrient, large enough, so that eating few hundred grams will replenish the daily supply of a large amount of nutrients. Back to quinoa. As helthline.com states, quinoa isn’t a grain, it is a ‘pseudocereal’. The dietary intakes chart at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov illustrates that an early teen needs 130 grams of carbohydrates, and 34 grams of protein. These two nutrients are the most found in quinoa. However, since this pseudocereal contains 21 g of carbs, and 4.4 g of protein, the same early teen needs to eat 600 g(21 oz) of quinoa to get the daily dose of carbs, and 750g (26.5 oz) to get enough protein. Such high amounts of quinoa required just for early teens(some age/gender groups need way more carbs/proteins)According to kidshealth.org, both of these nutrients provide energy to the body, while protein also helps to build tissues.

One thing that defines quinoa from its carb-rich brethren is the fact that it doesn’t contain gluten, meaning that it can be consumed by a wider range of people as a carb source. However, quinoa isn’t much popular in Japan, with some sources that contain more nutrients and are more common. Japanese short-grain rice contains 29 grams of carbohydrates compared to quinoa’s 21, and it can be found in many a store in Japan(but for those allergic to gluten, quinoa will do the trick). Edamame(another staple food in Japan) has whopping 12 grams of protein per 100g, while quinoa has measly 4.5 grams. And as mentioned earlier, carbs and protein are two most common nutrients in quinoa, meaning that there’s even less fiber and fat. Therefore,

Lastly, about quinoa. Despite the fact that it contains less carbohydrates and proteins than some other foods, its redeeming quality is the lack of gluten, to which a lot of people are allergic. Therefore, quinoa can be a great addition to your diet, but it certainly not that ‘super’ to outshine other foods.

The term ‘superfood’ may confuse quite a lot of people, especially if it doesn’t state why is a certain food super enough. Quinoa fits the niche of a gluten-free carbohydrate source, but it doesn’t fare that well with other nutrients. This is why calling it super isn’t a very good idea, especially since no one food has enough various nutrients for a person. Therefore, in my opinion, quinoa doesn’t deserve the title of superfood. More like ‘gluten-free carbohydrate source’.


The big list of works cited


“Basic Report: 11212, Edamame, Frozen, Prepared.” Food Composition Databases Show Foods — Edamame, Frozen, Prepared, USDA, ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/301858?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=edamame&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=.
“Bjarnanotir, Adda. “Quinoa 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 16 Mar. 2015,www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/quinoa#section2.
“Basic Report: 20453, Rice, White, Short-Grain, Cooked, Unenriched.” USDA, USDA, ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/305352?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=rice%2Bshort%2Bgrain%2Bbrown&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=.
“Dietary Reference Intakes.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56068/table/summarytables.t4/?report=objectonl
“Learning About Carbohydrates.” Edited by Jane M. Benton, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Apr. 2017, kidshealth.org/en/kids/carb.html?WT.ac=ctg#catfood.
“Learning About Proteins.” Edited by Mary L. Gavin, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Oct. 2014, kidshealth.org/en/kids/protein.html?WT.ac=ctg#catfood.