Are quinoa noodles & pasta good for you? Health & best brands

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 9, 2020

Those that are up on health food trends will surely have heard of the noodle substitute/superfood ‘quinoa’.

This gluten-free noodle alternative is often advertised as one of the few noodle alternatives that doesn’t suck. It’s also quite beneficial to your health.

Read on to find out more about quinoa and how you can make it a part of your diet.

If Quinoa isn’t Pasta, What is It?

Quinoa is a flowering plant in the amaranth family. It is grown for its nutritious seeds. The seeds can be ground up into a flour that is then used to make pasta-like products.

Quinoa was an important crop in the Inca Empire and it has also been eaten in South America for thousands of years.

However, it only recently became a health food trend and it has since risen to superfood status.

Quinoa Noodle Brands

There are many brands that sell quinoa noodles. Here are some that have been rated as the best.

Trader Joe’s

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Trader Joe’s brand offers many quinoa products. Their pasta is a highly rated product that the whole family can enjoy.

It has no sodium and it is made of just a few organic ingredients.

Orgran Super Foods

Orgran Super Foods makes pasta with kale, quinoa and brown rice. The product is gluten free, kosher, dairy free, egg free, wheat free, vegan and it does not contain any artificial ingredients.

It is made with whole grains and it’s a great source of protein and fiber.

NOW Foods

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NOW foods is another brand that makes a variety of quinoa products. Their spaghetti is produced in a dedicated gluten-free, allergy friendly factory.

Their spaghetti is all natural, kosher, non-GMO and organic. It does not contain any artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors or hydrogenated oils.

Andean Dream

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Andean Dream’s quinoa line includes organic shells, fusilli and macaroni. You can buy the set in a 3 pack.

The pasta is vegan, gluten free and does not get mushy or fall apart when cooked.

Are Quinoa Noodles Good for You?

Quinoa noodles are quite healthy, especially when compared to other pasta and grain products. Here are some benefits they offer.

Highly Nutritious

Quinoa is rich in nutrients including the following:

It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

One serving has 222 calories, 4 grams of fat and 39 grams of carbs. It is non-GMO and organic. Even though it is gluten-free, it is considered a whole grain food.

Although quinoa is quite healthy and lower in carbs than other grains, its carbohydrate level is too high to qualify it as a keto-friendly food.

Contains the Plant Compounds Quercetin and Kaempferol

Quercetin and kaempferol are two flavonoids that are potent antioxidants. They have anti-inflammatory properties and provide numerous health benefits.

High In Fiber

Quinoa’s high fiber content makes it great for digestion and weight loss. Fiber reduces the risk of constipation and it is filling to promote weight loss.

It can also reduce blood sugar levels.

When considering the glycemic index, quinoa’s GI is 53. The glycemic index measures the carbohydrates in food and how they affect blood glucose levels.

In general carbohydrates with a GI below 55 are slower to digest and therefore, cause a slower and lower rise in insulin and glucose levels.

Gluten-Free

There are many people who are on gluten-free diets. These people avoid gluten because it can trigger sensitivities in the body.

Gluten is especially bad for those with Celiac Disease. This is an auto-immune disease where gluten prompts the body to attack the small intestine causing damage.

Over time, it can also cause the body to reject nutrition from food.

However, this isn’t the only condition that is triggered when gluten is ingested.

Some people have a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Symptoms are similar to Celiac Disease but there is no damage to the small intestine.

Gluten Ataxia is another gluten-related autoimmune disease. It can affect the nerve responses and muscle movements.

Gluten can also bring on wheat allergies. These occur when the body identifies wheat as a foreign attacker triggering an autoimmune response.

Symptoms include congestion and difficulty breathing.

Finally, there are some that say not eating gluten just makes them feel better overall.

Whatever reason behind a gluten-free diet may be, quinoa is a great way for those avoiding gluten to enjoy a pasta type food.

High in Protein and Amino Acids

Although vegan and vegetarian diets are usually quite healthy, it can be hard to get the nutrients you need when on a plant-based meal routine.

Quinoa is one of the few foods that is vegetarian and also rich in protein and the essential amino acids.

High in Iron and Magnesium

Quinoa is rich in minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc. However, it also contains phytic acid which can bind the minerals and block their absorption.

To keep this from happening, it is best to soak quinoa before cooking. This will release the minerals to increase their bioavailability.

Benefits Metabolic Health

Animal studies have shown that quinoa was more effective than other grains in reducing insulin, blood sugar, and triglycerides.

It has also been shown to completely counter the effects of a high fructose diet. More studies are needed to determine its effects on metabolic health.

High In Antioxidants

Quinoa is high in antioxidants. Therefore, it is effective in reducing the risk of disease and cell damage while promoting healthy aging.

May Aid Weight Loss

Quinoa is high in fiber. Its fiber content keeps you feeling fuller longer to reduce food intake.

It is also good for metabolic health. The fact that it has a low glycemic index is another reason why it could aid in weight loss.

Easy to Incorporate in Diets: Quinoa has a somewhat neutral taste. This makes it easy to flavor and it also means it goes with a wide variety of foods.

It is easy to incorporate into different meals and many enjoy its taste.

What Do the Different Color quinoa Mean?

Quinoa comes in a wide variety of colors. Each color quinoa has its own properties. Here’s a bit about the colors and what you can expect from each.

White quinoa

White is the most common type of quinoa. Its color can vary a bit appearing tan, ivory, and golden at times.

It has the most delicate taste and lightest texture of all the quinoas, and it cooks up a bit fluffier as well.

Red quinoa

Red quinoa appears slightly brown when cooked. It has a richer, nuttier taste and a heartier, chewier texture than white quinoa.

It also holds its shape better when cooked. It is great in cold salads.

Black quinoa

Black quinoa can be described as having and earthy, sweet flavor.

These are the most common types of quinoa, but it is also available in purple, orange, pink, gray, green, and rainbow varieties.

Because white quinoa has a light, fluffy texture, it is recommended as a rice substitute. Other colors may be used as desired.

Different colors also need to be cooked differently. Red quinoa typically takes 3 to 4 minutes longer than white quinoa to cook while black quinoa can take 5 to 6 minutes longer.

This can make it challenging for people to cook rainbow varieties.

Quinoa vs. Pasta

Those on a gluten-free diet may choose quinoa over pasta because it is not as likely to trigger insensitivities.

However, there are other health reasons that make some prefer to eat this healthy wheat product. Let’s take a look at quinoa and pasta and see how they add up.

Quinoa vs pasta nutrition

Quinoa Pasta
Protein: 7g per serving Protein: 4g per serving
Carbohydrates: 36g per serving Carbohydrates: 44g per serving
Fat: has 3g per serving Fat: has 1g per serving
Fiber: 5g per serving Fiber: 6g per serving

Neither product has saturated or monosaturated fat. Quinoa does not have polysaturated fat while pasta has 1g.

Quinoa vs pasta vitamins

Other than B vitamins, neither pasta nor quinoa have a significant amount of content other than vitamin E.

Quinoa has 9% vitamin E while pasta has none:

Quinoa Pasta
Vitamin E: 9% Vitamin E: none
Vitamin B1: 18% Vitamin B1: 13%
Vitamin B2: 17% Vitamin B2: 4%
Vitamin B3: 6% Vitamin B3: 11%
Vitamin B5: 0% Vitamin B5: 5%
Vitamin B6: 19% Vitamin B6: 6%
Vitamin B12: 0% Vitamin B12: 0%

Quinoa vs pasta minerals

And here are some stats on mineral density:

Quinoa Pasta
Sodium: 1% Sodium: 0%
Potassium: 8% Potassium: 5%
Calcium: 6% Calcium: 0%
Magnesium: 30% Magnesium: 19%
Phosphorus: 44% Phosphorus: 24%
Iron: 41% Iron: 9%
Manganese: 46% Manganese: 12%
Selenium: 10% Selenium: 10%
Copper: 32% Copper: 11%
Zinc: 19% Zinc: 11%

Quinoa Noodles vs. Egg Noodles

Egg noodles are another type of pasta that is commonly eaten. As the name would suggest, egg noodles have a higher egg content than other types of pasta.

Also, pasta is almost always made with semolina flour whereas egg noodles can contain a variety of flours.

Egg noodles also have a richer color and taste than other types of pasta.

If you enjoy eating egg noodles and want to find out how they stack up against quinoa on a nutritional level, here’s the lowdown.

Protein: Quinoa has 7g per serving vs. egg noodles 8g.

Carbohydrates: Quinoa has 36g vs. egg noodles 40 g.

Fat: Quinoa and egg noodles have 3 g. of fat. Quinoa does not have saturated or monosaturated fat while egg noodles has 1 g. and .5g respectively. Quinoa does not have polysaturated fat while egg noodles has 1g.

Fiber: Quinoa has 5g vs. egg noodles’ 1 g.

Sodium: Quinoa- 1%, egg noodles 1%

Calcium: Quinoa- 6%, egg noodles 0%

Iron: Quinoa: 41%, egg noodles 10%

Takeaway

Quinoa is a healthy pasta substitute that is great for those on a gluten-free diet. How do you like to prepare it in your meals?

Also read: is yakitori gluten-free?

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.