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Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal: Difference & Similarities

This article explains the key similarities and differences between quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal, foods from the grains food group. Read on to learn more about the quinoa vs whole-grain cornmeal comparison.
Michael Whaley, Health Writer

Written by Michael Whaley, Health Writer. Updated on January 22, 2023.

Quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal belong to the grains food group, one of the staple food groups for people on a plant-based diet.

Grains and grain products are an affordable source of carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), iron, and zinc, minerals that are usually harder to get on a plant-based diet.

They also provide a small amount of protein and healthy fats.

However, it is important to note that whole grains are generally a better source of these nutrients than refined grains.

This article will thoroughly compare quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal and help you learn more about their similarities and differences.


Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a grain-like crop grown for its edible seeds.

It is a good source of complete protein, providing all essential amino acids, and also rich in dietary fibers, vitamins, and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc.

Quinoa also contains antioxidants, flavonoids, and anti-inflammatory compounds, which have been linked to various health benefits, including improved blood sugar control, cardiovascular health, and weight management.

It is a versatile ingredient that can be cooked and eaten as a side dish, added to soups and stews, or ground into flour to make breads, pancakes, and other baked goods.

Quinoa is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin E.

Whole-grain cornmeal

Whole-grain cornmeal (Zea mays) is made by grinding whole corn kernels into a fine or coarse powder. It is considered a whole grain because it contains all three parts of the corn kernel: the germ, bran, and endosperm.

It is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B3, iron and zinc. It also contains antioxidants, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, that have been linked to various health benefits, including improved heart health and blood sugar control.

Whole-grain cornmeal is commonly used in traditional American cuisine, such as cornbread, polenta, and grits. It can also be used as a coating for fish and meats, as an ingredient in baking, and as a thickener in soups and sauces. It is a healthier option than refined cornmeal as it retains all the nutrients from the corn kernel and provides more fiber.

Whole-grain cornmeal is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine) and some Vitamin A, Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal Nutrition

Now that we’ve described the origin, taste, and usage of these foods, we can move to the most interesting part – comparing quinoa vs whole-grain cornmeal.

This comparison will start by comparing the caloric value of quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal and their macronutrients and then go more in-depth by analyzing their vitamin and mineral content.

QuinoaWhole-grain cornmeal
Energy368 kcal362 kcal
Carbs64.2 g76.9 g
Sugar1.45 g0.64 g
Fiber7 g7.3 g
Protein14.1 g8.12 g
Fat6.07 g3.59 g
Saturated Fat0.706 g0.505 g

Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing whole-grain cornmeal vs quinoa for weight loss, whole-grain cornmeal is slightly lower in calories, with 362 calories per 100 grams, compared to 368 calories per 100 grams of quinoa.

However, both quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal can and should be a part of a healthy diet, and neither one shouldn’t be avoided if you’re looking to lose weight.

Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal Protein

Grains and most grain products, including quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal, are important sources of plant-based protein.

However, it should be noted that most grains, with the exception of quinoa and buckwheat, for example, are low in lysine and methionine.

That said, you can combine grains with legumes to get a complete protein.

Quinoa offers around 42% more protein than whole-grain cornmeal.

Quinoa has 14.1 grams of protein per 100 grams, while whole-grain cornmeal has 8.1 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal Carbs

Counting carbs can be important for some people for different reasons, including blood sugar control, weight management, or athletic performance.

It’s also important for people on a keto diet, so let’s compare the carbs content in quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 17% higher in whole-grain cornmeal than in quinoa. It has 76.9 grams per 100 grams, compared to 64.2 grams in quinoa.

There’s less sugar in whole-grain cornmeal than in quinoa, 60% precisely.

That said, 100 grams of whole-grain cornmeal contains 0.6 grams of sugar, while the same amount of quinoa contains 1.5 grams.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the dietary fiber in quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal.

Dietary fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and helps with weight management by promoting a sense of fullness.

With 7.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams, whole-grain cornmeal is a better source of fiber than quinoa which offers 7 grams per 100 gram portion.

Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal Fats

Like most other grains, quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal are low in fat.

Fats in quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal are mostly healthy unsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free.

Total fat in quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal:

  • Quinoa: 6.1 grams per 100 grams
  • Whole-grain cornmeal: 3.6 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, whole-grain cornmeal is 29% lower in saturated fats.

Whole-grain cornmeal and quinoa contain 0.5 grams and 0.7 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal.

Vitamins are micronutrients, meaning we need only a small amount. However, they are very important for many processes in our bodies.

Quinoa has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B3 (Niacin), and vitamin K.

However, whole-grain cornmeal has a higher amount of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin B9 (Folate), and vitamin E.

Quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal contain the same amount of vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

The following table shows the exact amount of vitamins quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal contain side by side, so you can easily compare them.

QuinoaWhole-grain cornmeal
Vitamin A14 IU214 IU
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.36 mg0.385 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.318 mg0.201 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)1.52 mg3.63 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.772 mg0.425 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.487 mg0.304 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)184 µg25 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E2.44 mg0.42 mg
Vitamin K00.3 µg

Quinoa vs Whole-grain cornmeal Minerals Content

Minerals are important for our body to function properly. We need only a small amount of minerals, so they are called micronutrients.

Some minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc, or iodine, are relatively hard to get on a plant-based diet, so it’s important to choose your foods thoughtfully. This part of the quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Quinoa is a better source of selenium, and sodium than whole-grain cornmeal.

On the other hand, whole-grain cornmeal is a higher amount of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

Quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal contain the same amount of fluoride.

Check out the table below to learn how quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal compare when it comes to mineral content.

QuinoaWhole-grain cornmeal
Calcium47 mg6 mg
Copper0.59 mg0.193 mg
Iron4.57 mg3.45 mg
Magnesium197 mg127 mg
Manganese2.03 mg0.498 mg
Phosphorus457 mg241 mg
Potassium563 mg287 mg
Selenium8.5 µg15.5 µg
Sodium5 mg35 mg
Zinc3.1 mg1.82 mg

The Final Word

This article highlighted the similarities and differences between quinoa and whole-grain cornmeal.

Grains, also known as cereal grains, are an important source of nutrition for many people around the world. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body.

Whole grains contain important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Whole grains, in particular, are high in dietary fiber and can help with digestion and weight management.

They may also have other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Grains are also a staple food and an important source of food security in many parts of the world.


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