Red Quinoa

ORAC Value:
μ mol TE/100g.

The antioxidant value of Red Quinoa described in ORAC units is: 3,900 μ mol TE/100g.


What is the difference between red and white quinoa? Both come from the same type of plant Chenopodium quinoa. The only difference is the variety each comes from. There are over 120 different varieties of quinoa and some produce colored seeds, including reds, dark browns, and even black. The most commonly used for commercial food purposes are the lightest, which you will hear people call white, ivory, or just regular.

Red vs. white nutrition facts

Both types have almost the exact same amount of calories - roughly 170 per 1/4 cup uncooked. Likewise for their fat content, with both having around 2 grams.

In fact you can run down the list of facts, compare them side by side, and almost all are identical are extremely close. Same amounts of protein and fiber. Comparable amounts of essential minerals like manganese (50% of your daily value), magnesium and phosphorus (both at around 30%), and iron (15%). Neither regular nor red quinoa offers vitamin A or vitamin C, but both do offer decent amounts of the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, B6, and folate.

Setting taste aside, is there any additional health benefits of buying the more expensive red? There is one reason... antioxidant content.

As is the case with most plants, those with brighter reds, purples, and blues tend to have much more antioxidants. How much more? We can tell you exactly in the case of red vs. regular quinoa. The ORAC value of red is 3900 which is about 22% higher than regular white, which is 3200. This is largely due to the phenolic compounds known as anthocyanins, which are the pigments that give it the reddish color.

So is red quinoa healthier than regular? Yes. But is it worth paying a lot more for only about 20% higher antioxidant activity? Probably not. If all you care about doing is boosting the nutritional value, a far simpler way to do that would be adding high ORAC spices to it after you cook it, such as marjoram and basil. Adding a tablespoon of either to your 1/4 cup serving of cooked white quinoa would not only equal red, but most likely far exceed it.

Taste and texture

Since both versions are quite nutritional and healthy, your decision should be based on 3 factors: taste, texture, and cost (if you're watching your budget).

White cooks the fastest in around 10 to 15 minutes. Any of the darker colors - including red - will require an additional 2 to 5 minutes (or possibly more) before its ready. If you're short on time for cooking dinner, grab the regular.

If you're making a cold dish, like a quinoa salad recipe, then red would probably be better because it tends to hold its shape and form. Versus the regular ivory, which becomes a bit mushy.

Does red quinoa taste different or the same as white? The founder of Bob's Red Mill (Bob Moore) has been quoted as saying they both offer the same earthy and nutty taste. Though if you read reviews online from everyday consumers, you will see many people saying the scarlet variety tastes a bit nuttier with a richer flavor... we would agree with that.

Last but certainly not least is presentation. If you're entertaining and want your food to make the best impression, try the tricolor or any of the individual colors. They really make your food pop compared to the ivory which by now, is served pretty much everywhere (even some fast foot restaurants). The colored are seen much less often and hence, more likely to leave an impression upon your guests.

ORAC Source

Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: Ancient grains: Opportunities for amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff in gluten-free products. ConAgra Mills. July 2010