Can Quinoa Damage Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Quinoa is an incredibly popular alternative grain. It seems like it’s become the hot new food trend in the past few years and there’s a huge amount of health hype surrounding its supposed benefits. But, when it comes to your teeth, what do you need to know? Is quinoa good or bad for your dental health?

Quinoa is generally safe for your teeth. Some minerals in quinoa, like manganese, are actually good for your teeth and can help strengthen enamel. As long as you don’t eat your quinoa with sugary or acidic substances, you should be good to go.

If you’re a quinoa fan already or are looking to add it to your diet, there are a few things to note. Let’s take a closer look at what quinoa is, how it affects your teeth, and what health benefits it offers.

What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa seeds in square bowl with wooden shovel

You may have already had a bowl of this unique grain as a side dish or under a protein for dinner, and maybe you found it surprisingly tasty. But is it really that much better for you than other grains, and what health benefits can you expect? More so, where does quinoa even come from?

Quinoa is a “pseudo-grain” originating from South America. While relatively unknown in many countries, it has taken the food scene by storm and built a reputation for being packed with nutrients. Moreover, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs — a rarity in the plant world.

Quinoa can trace its lineage back almost 7,000 years to the Andes mountains. Most of today’s quinoa is grown in either Bolivia or Peru — which is not too far from the original land where it was cultivated.

There are almost 3,000 different types of quinoa, but most store shelves will carry one of three kinds:

  • Red
  • White
  • Black

You can find blends of all three, but most of the time, you’ll just see white quinoa, such as OA Quinoa’s Royal Organic White Quinoa (on Amazon).

In most cases, you’ll find raw quinoa, but it does come in other forms. Sometimes you’ll see flaked or rolled quinoa and even quinoa flour, like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa Flour (on Amazon). Since it’s gluten-free, quinoa is the perfect choice for those who are gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease.

How Does Quinoa Affect Your Teeth?

Quinoa has a huge list of purported health benefits. But when it comes to dental health, what do you need to know? Does this ancient cereal grain have a more detrimental effect on your teeth than other grain choices?

Generally speaking, quinoa has no detrimental effect on your teeth. In fact, some compounds in quinoa, like manganese, are actually good for your health. Of course, you’ll need to avoid mixing quinoa with other foods to ensure you’re staying dentally safe and sound.

Since quinoa has a low sugar content, you don’t need to worry too much about dental damage. This goes for acidity as well. Since these are the two factors that seem to have the most effect on your dental health, the fact that you don’t need to worry about them means that quinoa is a fairly dental-safe food.

That’s for quinoa itself. But if you mix quinoa with acidic or sugary foods, you’ll still need to worry about dental damage.

It should also be noted that quinoa may have a better chance of getting stuck in your teeth. Since the grains are so small, they can easily get lodged between your teeth and gums.

Even if you aren’t mixing your quinoa with acidic or sugary foods, you’ll still want to keep up with a quality dental routine. This includes brushing and using floss when you can.

Other Health Benefits of Quinoa

Cooked and uncooked quinoa

Quinoa is packed with all kinds of minerals and nutrients. It has a reputation for being healthy and is often found in health-conscious stores and restaurants. So, when it comes to other health benefits, what do you need to know?

Complete Protein

One thing that makes quinoa so unique is the amino acid content.

There are nine essential amino acids your body needs to operate. Put them all together and you’ve got a complete protein. Without this complete protein, your body just can’t function properly.

Quinoa is unique in the plant world as it contains all nine of these essential amino acids. Other plants contain an incomplete list of amino acids, making them incomplete in terms of protein. For people eating a purely plant-based diet, getting all those nutrients can be tough.

That’s why quinoa is so great. It gives you the same amino acid profile as any other complete protein, like meat. This means quinoa is not only healthy but can be an essential part of your diet and give you everything you need to power your body.

Mineral Content

Your body is a complex machine. You need all kinds of compounds and minerals to run properly. While you can get quite a lot from a natural diet, it’s not that easy to just eat a regular modern diet without having some deficiencies.

In fact, a lot of people have some kind of mineral deficiency. The most common one is an iron deficiency, known as anemia.

Quinoa is a great source of all kinds of nutrients. Just one cup of quinoa contains:

  • Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorous: 28% of the RDI.
  • Folate: 19% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 18% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 15% of the RDI.
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDI.
  • Thiamin: 13% of the RDI.
  • Riboflavin: 12% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6: 11% of the RDI.

Fiber Content

Fiber is another essential part of your diet. You want to make sure you have enough in your diet to ensure optimum gut and gastrointestinal health. Luckily, quinoa is a great source of natural fiber.

One cup of quinoa contains around five grams of fiber. You can compare that to brown rice, which has around three grams of fiber. When compared to other grains, too, quinoa takes the cake for fiber content.

Eating a diet high in fiber means better digestive health. It also means you are adopting a diet that will help you maintain a healthy weight. Since fiber promotes a feeling of fullness, meals seem more significant even when you eat less. A big bowl of quinoa is all you need to feel satisfied.

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