Quinoa comes in three main varieties: red, black and white. Of these, white quinoa, or regular quinoa, is the most familiar. All three are similar in nutritional content, although red and black quinoa take slightly longer to cook. As all varieties of quinoa produce the same nutty, slightly bitter-tasting grain when cooked, choosing the variety of quinoa often depends on personal preference and availability. Both red and regular quinoa are high in protein and fiber.
Comparing Nutritonal Profiles
Both the red and regular variety have 170 calories per 1/4-cup serving of uncooked quinoa. They also have roughly the same amount of fat per serving, with 2 grams for red quinoa and 2.5 grams for white quinoa. The carbohydrate content is also similar, with 32 grams per serving for red quinoa and 31 grams for white quinoa. While both types of quinoa are a good source of vitamins B-9, B-1 and B-6 as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, red quinoa is a better source of riboflavin, with 15 percent of the daily value per serving, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
A Complete Source of Protein
Quinoa is a complete source of protein, providing all of the necessary amino acids. Most other complete protein sources are animal-based, so this makes quinoa special in terms of dietary benefits. Red quinoa has 6 grams of protein per serving, while white quinoa has only 5 grams per serving. This provides 12 percent and 10 percent of the daily value of protein, respectively, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
High in Dietary Fiber
Both types of quinoa are also a good source of dietary fiber, with 5 grams per serving -- or 20 percent of the daily value -- for red quinoa and 4 grams per serving -- 16 percent of the daily value -- for white quinoa. A diet high in dietary fiber can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and constipation. As most Americans do not consume enough fiber, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, regularly eating quinoa can help you introduce more fiber to your diet. Quinoa is also a good source of resistant starch, which provides nutrition to bacteria found in your colon, helping to keep your digestive tract healthy.
Cooking and Choosing
Both red and white quinoa cook quickly into fluffy grains. Most quinoa sold commercially is ready to cook as-is. Some less processed versions, however, require a quick rinse before cooking to eliminate a bitter taste. To cook quinoa, boil 2 cups of water with 1 cup of rinsed quinoa and then allow it to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Cover the pot and take it off the heat for five minutes before fluffing the quinoa with a fork. You can serve quinoa hot, cold or at room temperature. When choosing which type of quinoa to serve, consider the color. The deep red hue of red quinoa or the pale white of regular quinoa may pair better visually with some foods than others to make for a striking presentation.