Think Quinoa is Good for You? Think Again.

Posted by on Jan 25, 2013 in Food, Food Intolerance | 10 comments

Recently I caused quite a stir on Facebook when I posted that Quinoa was not good for your body or the planet. What? How can you say that the gluten free golden child of grains isn’t good for me? Quinoa is gluten free, so isn’t that GOOD?


Not so fast. Yes, Quinoa is Gluten Free but so are Kellogg’s Rice Chex cereal-that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy choice. Let me explain.

All species are born with defense mechanisms, including plants. Quinoa is actually closer to a seed than a grain. Part of a plant’s defensive mechanism is the outer coating of the seed itself. In the case of Quinoa, that protective coat contains Saponins.

Saponins are soapy like molecules that literally “punch holes” in the gastric mucosal lining. Then you get “leaky gut” (contents of the gut leak into the blood stream) and this causes an autoimmune response and systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation manifests in numerous ways: headaches, skin rashes, achy joints, stomach pain, weight gain, fatigue ,etc.

And these saponins are so irritating and inflammatory, that scientist use them in vaccine research.

 “Saponins are so irritating to the immune system that they are used in vaccine research to help the body mount a powerful immune response. The bottom line is if you think grains or grain-like items like Quinoa are healthy or benign, you are not considering the full picture.” Robb Wolf author of The Paleo Solution

Additional research can be found here:

As most of you know, I advocate Grain Free diet-not just gluten free. If you are eating Quinoa, I encourage you to think twice. Not only is it affecting your gut health, but also the high demand has negatively affected the countries that farm it and export it. Now the people of Peru and Bolivia can’t even afford to buy this indigenous food because demand has driven up the price. They can buy junk food cheaper than a food that is native to their culture. See this article.

If you are struggling with how to eat without grains, contact me for a one on one consult. There are so many truly healthy alternatives, you won’t miss them and your body will thank you and reward you! Most see a dramatic decrease in joint pain, skin conditions clear, sleep is more restful and of course, the excess pounds of “false fat” aka Inflammation begin to melt away.

<p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Disclaimer and Terms of Use" href="">Disclaimer & Terms of Use</a></p>


  1. Arrhhhghg!!! I just had some today. Hmmmm…. Thanks for the info Sam!

    • Sorry Kim! But isn’t better to know the truth!?

  2. Your right Quinoa did inflame my stomach and attack my immune system.
    I’m a O+ blood type

    • So great that you are in tune with your body and know when you react to something!

  3. Okay, you just convinced me. And I have a pot of mixed grains I just made. Literally going in the trash.
    I’ve been surprised that you went all the way grain free…. I need to make time to read everything you’ve shared.
    It’s a bit exhausting.
    I thought it was strange that my husbands food allergy tests came back with a “NO GO” for Quinoa… since it’s so “healthy” and all…
    Now I think maybe his body is giving him good information.

    • Yes, I started transitioning to grain free about a year ago and I love it! You can do it!

  4. I’m not a hundred percent positive on the issue, but I thought saponins can be good for you too. Maybe the “full picture” should also include how saponins can reduce ones cancer risk? Then again there may be different kinds of saponins that I’m not aware of.

    • The saponins in soy are being studied for their potential cytotoxic effect on cancer cells-specifically in the colon. I think there are better ways to reduce cancer risks than eating saponins. We know that in large amounts, they are toxic which is why if you are eating grains and legumes, it is better to soak/rinse them. Thanks for the info! I appreciate the dialogue.

  5. I hurt so much today. I am newly diagnosed with celiac dieases. The quinoa bread I have tried three times as a substitute drives me crazy. I don’t want to go grain free yet, but I would like to know the mildest most innocuous grain there is. Is it rice? Thanks, Maureen

  6. Excellent Samantha, thks for sharing your wisdom.


  1. Is quinoa actually good for you? - [...] Saponins are soapy like molecules that literally “punch holes” in the gastric mucosal lining. Then you get “leaky gut”…