Is quinoa a complete protein?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is quinoa a complete protein?” We will also discuss complete protein in general and the nutritional composition of quinoa.

Is quinoa a complete protein?

Yes, quinoa is a complete protein. Technically speaking, quinoa is a seed, but it can be used in cooking just like any other grain-based food. Consumption of quinoa seeds provides you with essential amino acids for protein synthesis. 

Although most whole grains supply your body with some amino acids, they lack or contain only small levels of the amino acid lysine and do not provide enough protein to meet our essential amino acid needs. Quinoa, on the other hand, has a complete amino acid profile. Quinoa contains enough lysine as well as the other eight essential amino acids to meet our body’s amino acid requirements.

Out of the nine essential amino acids that come from the food sources, quinoa is one of the food sources that provides you with each of these amino acids. Hence they are considered a complete protein. Quinoa has a protein content of 6 grams per ¼ cup serving.

What is a complete protein?

Complete proteins are those protein food sources that have all of the essential amino acids in the optimal proportion for our nutritional needs. We require 20 amino acids in various combinations for the synthesis of protein which is responsible for all the vital functions in our body.

However, our bodies can only produce 11 of them. The remaining nine essential amino acids must be obtained from our diet. Quinoa is one of the few plant sources that provide you with each of these amino acids, hence considered a complete protein source.

Proteins are considered the building blocks of the body. It is important for different functioning of the body including satisfying our hunger, generating energy, building and repairing bones and muscles, digesting nutrients, and increasing immunity, among other things. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (0.36 grams per pound) of body weight per day which is roughly 46 grams for an average woman.

What is the nutritional composition of quinoa?

Aside from the high protein contents, quinoa is also rich in different important nutrients like copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It also contains small amounts of sodium and omega-3 essential fatty acids.

For best utilization of the nutritional values of quinoa, it is better to consume it after cooking instead of raw. According to Nutrition Research, raw quinoa is coated with saponin, a harmful soap-like compound that can combine with some of the nutrients you ingest, inhibiting them from being absorbed.

1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 222 calories, 8.1 g of protein, 3.6 g of fat, 39.4 g of carbohydrates, and 5.2 g of fiber. It also has a lot of B vitamins, like riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and folate, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Eating Consumption of quinoa in raw forms prevents your body from absorbing the vital nutrients it contains and may even inhibit the absorption of nutrients found in other foods consumed at the same time.

Lets us discuss its nutritional composition in detail:

  • Manganese: It provides 58% of the RDA. It is beneficial to the brain, nerves, connective tissue, bones, blood, hormones, and metabolism.
  • Magnesium: It provides 30% RDA. it is responsible for energy production.
  • Phosphorus: It provides 28% of the RDA. It works together with calcium to give bones and teeth strength and structure.
  • Folate: It provides 19% RDA. A B vitamin links to your DNA chain, allowing other genetic material to flow through.
  • Copper: It provides 18% RDA. It collaborates with iron to help produce red blood cells and maintain blood arteries, neurons, and immunity power.
  • Iron: It provides 15% RDA. It is essential for the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
  • Zinc: It provides 13% of the RDA. It plays a crucial role in cell division, cell development, wound healing, and carbohydrate breakdown.
  • Vitamins B1, B2, and B6: It provides more than 10% of the RDA. The B vitamins help with energy, cognitive ability, and cellular metabolism.
  • Potassium: It provides 9% RDA. It aids in the control of fluid balance, muscular contractions, and nerve signals.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “Is quinoa a complete protein?” We have also discussed complete protein in general and the nutritional composition of quinoa.