The health food industry is a ruthlessly competitive world, with only the most nutritious, delicious, and well-praised eventually becoming ‘superfoods’. But that hasn’t stopped marketers from bequeathing such a hefty title on just about anything sorta-kinda good for you.

One group of foods, in particular, have garnered much-deserved attention when it comes to health benefits: ancient grains. Many of them are very healthy indeed, as they contain lots of essential vitamins and minerals, and many are even gluten-free, making them more accessible for the gluten-intolerants.

So the question is, how do they compare with one another? Today, we’re comparing two ancient grains that could be easily mistaken for one another, millet and quinoa. They’re both naturally gluten-free, full of protein, packed with fibre, and they both look very similar. We put them in salads, porridges, and as side dishes. But how exactly do they differ? Is one healthier than the other?


Advantages of Millet

Millets have origins in many parts of the world, but the most widely distributed kind is indigenous to India and parts of Africa, where it has been cultivated for nearly 10 000 years. Don’t let the bird-seed-like appearance fool you, however, as these ancient grains are known for their high nutrient content of B vitamins, vitamin K, and minerals—calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

One of the best attributes of millet is its protein content. It is packed with 3.5 grams of protein in just 100 grams of millet, compared to the common rice which only has 2.7 grams at the same quantity.

How to Prepare Millet

They’re also quick and easy to prepare. Simply rinse the millet and mix one part grain with two parts water in a pot. Bring to a boil before letting it simmer for about twelve minutes or when the water is completely absorbed. Fluff it up, as you would with quinoa, then serve with your favourite dishes, salads, or soup!


Advantages of Quinoa

Despite quinoa only getting its well-deserved attention in recent years in North America, this ancient grain has been a part of the human diet for over 3000 years with its origins in South America. Quinoa has been labelled a superfood because of its prestigious nutritional value, with even the United Nations declaring 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa.” It may not come as much of a surprise, as this mighty grain is loaded with B vitamins and vitamin E, as well as all the same minerals found in millet.

Quinoa contains about 4.4 grams of protein per 100 grams, a little more than millet.In addition, however, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids—not produced by the human body—and the millet does not. So while millet is good for you and offers many essential minerals, quinoa takes the win in this grain showdown.

How to Prepare Quinoa

Quinoa is also very easy to cook. Give the grains a thorough rinse before placing them in a pot with one part grain and two parts water. Bring to a boil before letting it simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the water is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa up with a fork as you would with millet before serving it with your favourite dish!


So they look similar and cook the same, but they do differ slightly in nutritional value. Despite millet’s generous protein content, quinoa offers even more and with all nine essential amino acids. So if you’ve been on team millet for a while and enjoy its taste and texture more–although there is no reason to fret–switch it up sometimes and your body might respond even better to quinoa!

Taste, versatility, and texture-wise, which is your preferred grain? Share with us your favourite ways to cook them!



Daniel is a Digital Marketing and Content Strategist at SPUD. He graduated from UBC with a degree in English and International Relations with a focus on environmental topics. A wordsmith by day and a bookman by night, he's a self-proclaimed gastronomic snob, a buck-a-shuck addict, a sub-par skier, and a devoted kingsguard of the oxford comma. He also frequents the dog park with a schnauzer named Duke. | Instagram: @dannnyellow

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