Black Rice vs Quinoa – The Differences & Nutritional Comparison

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Black Rice vs Quinoa

Two of the hottest trends in healthy eating are quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) and black rice. If you have wondered how quinoa and black rice stack up, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will: 

  • Compare black rice and quinoa nutrition.
  • Discuss the differences between quinoa and black rice.
  • See which is healthier.
  • Compare cooking times for quinoa and black rice.
  • See which rates higher on the Glycemic Index.

Let’s dive right in.

What’s the Difference Between Black Rice and Quinoa?

quinoa is not a grain

Quinoa and black rice are both highly prized sources of protein, dietary fiber, and many nutrients. However, they are not the same thing, nor are they likely to be confused with each other. 

Quinoa originated in the Andean Region of South America. It is cultivated for its fruits (seeds) which are ball-shaped, about 1/16 around, and can range in color from pale tan to red or black. 

Black rice is Asian in origin and comes in a wide array of types. Long grain, medium grain, short grain, and glutinous varieties are all grown commercially. The one characteristic all members of the family share is that the kernels are black. 

Despite what many think, quinoa is not a grain, like rice. Grains are the seeds and fruits produced by members of the grass family (Poaceae). The plant that produces quinoa is a member of the flowering plant family (amaranth). Quinoa is more closely related to spinach than wheat or rice. Despite this technicality, quinoa is treated as grain when used in cooking. 

quinoa high in fiber

Quinoa and black rice are very similar nutritionally, but there are some crucial differences. Both are considered good sources of protein, but black rice delivers almost twice as much. Black rice also has the advantage of being higher in immunity-building antioxidants, iron, and copper.

In quinoa’s favor, it is lower in calories, higher in fiber, and a superior source of manganese, zinc, and folate. It is also much easier to digest and better suited for people with sensitive stomachs.  

Nutrition Table

Per 100g Cooked Black Rice Cooked Quinoa
Calories  145 (7% DV) 120 (6% DV)
Fat 0g 1.9g
Carbohydrates 33.3g 21.3g
Protein 2.9g 4.4g
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Fiber 0g 2.8g
Sugar 0g 0.9g
Iron 0mg 1.5mg
Vitamin A 0 0
Vitamin C 0 0
Vitamin B1 0mg 0.1mg
Vitamin B2 0mg 0.1mg
Vitamin B5 0 0
Vitamin B12 0 0
Biotin 0 0
Folate 0 0
Vitamin E 0mg 0.6mg
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin K 0 0
Vitamin K1 0 0

Which is Healthier – Black Rice or Quinoa?

quinoa amino acids

Generally, black rice is considered healthier than quinoa due to its extremely high anthocyanin content and the arabinoxylan and β-glucan that it contains. Anthocyanin is a powerful flavonoid antioxidant that is believed to offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. 

Arabinoxylan and β-glucan are essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system. They help your body absorb the nutrients from all of the foods you eat. 

Quinoa does have a slight edge in terms of some amino acids, minerals, and vitamins but not enough to offset the advantages black rice offers. 

Glycemic Index 

The glycemic index is a scale that rates how foods impact your blood sugar (glucose) levels. Starting at 0 for foods with no impact, it runs up to 100 for pure sugar. Used in the treatment of diabetes, cholesterol problems, and weight management, the GI scale is commonly broken down into three categories: 

  • Low: 55 or less (Healthy)
  • Medium: 56–69 (OK in limited amounts)
  • High: 70 or above (To be avoided)

Black Rice

Black rice has an average GI rating of 43. This places it in the low or healthy range with yogurt, lentils, most greens, and bananas.  


There are over 100 varieties of quinoa available today, and they can vary significantly in their effect on blood sugar levels. Their average GI rating is 55. 55 places them dead on the borderline between healthy and just OK. 

Cooking Time

black rice vs quinoa preparation time

Both black rice and quinoa come in many varieties and can be prepared in multiple ways. Cooking times will be affected by these factors and the volume to be prepared as well

Black Rice

The preparation time for black rice will typically be 20-50 minutes for family-size portions.


Due to its smaller grain size and lack of husk, quinoa cooks a tad faster than blacker rice. Preparation times for quinoa will generally fall in the 10 to 25-minute range.