Quinoa Amino Acid Profile

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The following graph shows a typical quinoa amino acid profile. The essential amino acids are marked with a small asterisk next to their names.

This chart was generated using our amino acid profile comparison tool.

quinoa amino acid profile

(Data Source, 2)

It might be easier to read in table form. Essential amino acids are again marked with an asterisk (*).

 % of total amino acids
Alanine4.6
Arginine10.4
Aspartic Acid9.3
Cysteine1.3
Glutamic Acid16.4
Glycine7.6
Histidine*3.1
Isoleucine*4.2
Leucine*7.3
Lysine*6.1
Methionine*2.7
Phenylalanine*4.3
Proline4.9
Serine5
Threonine*3.2
Tryptophan*1
Tyrosine3.6
Valine*5

Is Quinoa a Complete Protein?

There are 2 things that determine whether a protein is “complete” or not, according to the WHObalance and amount.

Let’s start with balance, which looks at the relative amounts of each essential amino acid in quinoa:

 
Complete Protein (min %)
Quinoa (%)
Histidine1.53.1
Isoleucine34.2
Leucine5.97.3
Lysine4.56.1
Methionine+Cysteine
1.64
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine
37.9
Threonine2.33.2
Valine3.95

Quinoa passes this test with flying colors, it has a very balanced essential amino acid profile.

The second part we need to look at is amount. In other words, if you could only eat quinoa, could you get enough of each amino acid in a day.

 Needed per day (mg for 65 kg adult)In 100g of Cooked Quinoa (mg)
100g servings needed
Histidine6501275.1
Isoleucine13001578.3
Leucine25352619.7
Lysine19502398.2
Methionine+Cysteine
9751596.1
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine
16252686.1
Threonine9751317.4
Valine16901859.1

This is the point where there’s some subjectivity in what a “complete protein” actually is.

In 970 grams of cooked quinoa, you’d get enough of each amino acid (for a 65 kg adult).

If you really had to, you could eat that amount and survive no problem.

Based on that, quinoa is a complete protein.

That being said, you’re not going to see bodybuilders switching all their protein intake to quinoa.

Overall Summary of Quinoa Protein’s Amino Acid Profile

Quinoa is one of the best plant protein sources there is, as far as protein quality goes.

Most importantly, it’s a complete protein. This means that there is a significant amount of all essential amino acids.

It’s profile is well balanced, with a very similar amino acid profile to brown rice.

In terms of overall nutrition, you might find this couscous vs quinoa comparison interesting.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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