Oats Vs. Quinoa: Which is Better For Your Health?
Oats or quinoa?
This is the dilemma faced by a lot of people when deciding which makes for a better breakfast. You can’t really blame them. These two “superfoods” are both highly-nutritious and makes a rather filling breakfast. Plus they make a healthy twist to your first and most important meal of the day.
Although it’s commonly classified as a grain, quinoas are actually seeds. They are from a plant scientifically known as Chenopodium quinoa. It’s been traditionally believed to give more health benefits than other grains.
Oats, on the other hand, are roasted after harvest giving it a distinct flavor. It’s been a staple breakfast in many countries for hundreds of years. No wonder we’ve become quite creative with oat dishes. We put it in cookies, porridge, muffins, pancakes and even smoothies.
To help you make a better choice, we’ll compare it side by side to see which is better for your health.
Comparative Nutritional Value of 100 grams of Oats and Quinoa
A 100 gram of oats has a lot more fats than quinoa. But it’s the kind we call the “good fats”. Now you may ask, is there such a thing? Indeed. You see, these fats are made up of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are essential to our body.
Both foods are also good sources of fiber though oats has a lot more of it than quinoa. But, the fiber in quinoa mostly consists of insoluble ones which are associated with reduced risk of diabetes.
Fiber in oatmeals are mostly soluble. One of them is the beta-glucan. They are known to reduce cholesterol levels as well as blood sugar and insulin after consuming carbohydrate rich foods.
Though quinoa has less protein than oats, it’s still considered a complete protein source. It provides all the essential amino acids including a good amount of lysine.
Oats also has more than double the amount of carbohydrates than quinoa. But it’s still well below the recommended daily servings. Carbohydrates also gives you the energy to go about the rest of your day.
Many people can’t tolerate foods with gluten content. They are especially harmful to those with celiac disease. This type of protein is usually found in most cereal grains. But since quinoas are technically seeds, they are gluten-free.
By nature, oats don’t have gluten too. But they contain avenin, a protein with similar characteristics to gluten. Also, most oats you’ll find in groceries are processed in the same facilities where other gluten-containing cereals go through. Thus there is always a risk of them picking up those gluten components. To make sure, look for the gluten-free sign in the label.
When you’re diabetic, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is a constant concern. You can’t have it too low or too high. That’s why you can’t be too careful with the foods you take in especially those with high glycemic index.
Fortunately, both quinoa and oats have low glycemic index. Quinoa has an index of only around 53 while oats can range from 55 to 79 depending on how it’s processed. Thus whichever you prefer, both are good for diabetics.
Other Health Benefits
Both oats and quinoa help you reduce weight in their own way. Oats have soluble fibers that makes you feel full for longer. Thus you won’t feel the need to grab some bites every few hours. Just like otas, quinoa helps you feel satiated and avoid hunger pangs due to its low calorie intake. It also helps your body absorb less calories and fat so you won’t have to worry about weight gain.
Aside from helping you lose weight, these superfoods are also good for the heart. They are both proven to reduce cholesterol. Quinoa even protects your blood vessels from inflammation and helps you fight heart disease. The fiber in oats “clumps” the cholesterol and sweeps it out of the body. People with high cholesterol can reduce it by about 8% to 23% if they eat even just one bowl of oatmeal.
Infants below six months fed with oats have also shown decreased risk of developing childhood asthma. A study made on nursing home residents also showed that including oats in their diet helps reduce the need for laxative. Another study also concluded that oat bran helps in constipation management for elderlies with multiple chronic diseases.
Several studies also link beta-glucans to our immune system’s improved ability to fight foreign bodies. Beta-glucan is a type of carbohydrate found in oat bran.
Depending on the brand and kind, there’s not much price difference between quinoa and oats. Unless, of course, if we’re talking about instant oats which only costs about $0.15 to $0.20 per ounce.
At Walmart, gluten free quinoa and oats are between $0.30 to $0.50 per ounce. It’s much more expensive when they’re organic.
If you’re on a tight budget but still wants to eat healthy, you can still go for instant oats. But if you’re sensitive to gluten, be prepared to spend a lot more as gluten free products don’t come cheap.
So, is it oats or quinoa?
There is really no definite answer. Each of us have different needs, preferences and priorities. Besides, if it’s hard for you to choose, you can always combine the two. The internet is teeming with easy-to-cook recipes containing both oatmeal and quinoa. Or you can whip up your own. Whatever floats your boat.
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