Quinoa Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/11/22 •  9 min read

What are quinoa benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are quinoa pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

quinoa benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on quinoa benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about quinoa benefits and side effects. This will include quinoa benefits for your health and potential risks, quinoa water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if quinoa is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if quinoa is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about quinoa benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Top Quinoa Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Quinoa health benefits may include:

Quinoa is also…

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Environment

Water footprint: likely low

Carbon footprint: likely low

Destruction: low, quinoa production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc., be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Quinoa is…

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Animals

Kills: none, quinoa production does not require any animals

Harms: none, quinoa production does not require any animals

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from quinoa production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Quinoa is…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Quinoa…

Yes! Quinoa is high in antioxidants, protein, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and contains sufficient amounts of all 9 essential amino acids.

The world’s top quinoa producing country is Peru, followed by Bolivia and Ecuador.

In the United States, commercial quinoa production is in the Colorado Rockies, especially in the San Luis Valley.

The world’s top quinoa exporting country is Peru, followed by Bolivia, USA, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, France, Ecuador and UK.

quinoa is alkaline.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is quinoa alkaline or acidic?

Quinoa is alkaline.

What is the pH level of quinoa?

Quinoa has a 7.5 pH level once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

quinoa is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is quinoa gluten free?

Yes, quinoa is gluten free. Quinoa does not contain gluten. Quinoa is actually a type of seed, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

quinoa is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is quinoa a common food allergen?

No, quinoa is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to quinoa but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

quinoa is a low-fodmap food.

fodmap friendly food

Is quinoa FODMAP friendly?

Yes. Quinoa is a low-FODMAP food and fit into a low-FODMAP diet. 

A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.

See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food

quinoa is sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is quinoa eco friendly and sustainable?

Quinoa production is relatively sustainable since there is no significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. Be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

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quinoa is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is quinoa vegan?

Yes, quinoa is vegan. Quinoa is a whole grain seed and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

quinoa has labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is quinoa a product that has known labor issues?

Yes. At this time, there are reports of worker mistreatment regarding quinoa farming. Quinoa has labor issues and human rights concerns so be sure to buy fair trade quinoa.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade

This post was all about quinoa benefits and side effects.

Sources:

Harvard, The Nutrition Source, Quinoa

International Labour Organization (ILO). How Peruvian quinoa farmers have boosted their income

FoodData Central – USDA

Quinoa: A Plant with a Lot of Potential | USDA

Nutritional Value and Use of the Andean Crops Quinoa – PubAg

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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