Forget Quinoa! Kañiwa is the Superfood You Need in Your Life

(Photo: Culinary Collective)

Just when we finally learn how to pronounce “quinoa,” another superfood makes its grand entrance into our life with halo-like qualities. While quinoa is incredibly beneficial to our diets and a beloved staple in our wellness routine, its close relative, kañiwa is making the rounds as the latest super seed to ‘supersede’ the health food game.

Although the two share very similar origins and grew up like the best of friends in South America, kañiwa is a species of goosefoot and grown primarily for its edible seeds. Currently sold at Whole Foods and fine food markets, this nutritious seed is naturally gluten-free and smaller than quinoa but perfect for salads, stir-fry, smoothies, or even as a rice replacement.

Half the size of quinoa with a similarly sweet and nutty flavor, kañiwa has a delightful crunch with a hearty texture that is easy to digest. Not to mention, this whole grain can be cooked like quinoa, is high in fiber and boasts a slew of vitamins and nutrients — components ideal for reducing and lowering the risk of many chronic diseases.

High in iron
In case you didn’t know, iron is an essential component to our well-being. Responsible for boosting energy and improving brain function, the U.S. Department of Health reports 10 percent of women in the United States are iron deficient today, which means we’re not adding enough to our diet. As an effective grain high in nutrients and minerals, kañiwa gives you 60 percent of your daily-recommended intake — more than quinoa, bulgur or even buckwheat.

Packed with flavonoids
As a strongly studied antioxidant, flavonoids are powerful weapons in the fight against inflammation and disease. Primarily found in fruits and veggies, kañiwa has been shown to contain remarkably high levels of flavonoids, which help support a healthy heart — even more so than its relative, quinoa. As if that wasn’t enough, kañiwa’s high levels of antioxidants provide anti-aging benefits for your skin, help prevent cardiovascular diseases and hinder the growth of certain bacteria or viruses.

High in protein
Kañiwa is perfect for vegans, vegetarians and even meat eaters who are looking for creative ways to amp up their protein intake as it is the highest of any grain. Known as a complete protein with 7 grams per half a cup and only 160 calories per serving, this superfood boasts nine essential amino acids your body cannot produce itself to build better, stronger muscle. In addition, it has more protein than brown rice or quinoa.

Ideal for sensitive stomachs
Versatile in your favorite recipes, kañiwa is perfect for anyone with gluten sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease as it doesn’t cause intestinal upset. Naturally gluten-free and supercharged with B vitamins, this grain source boasts minerals, like magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus for easy digestion.


By now we know kañiwa is packed with protein, but it’s also got 7 grams of fiber per serving to help you feel fuller, longer — a food perfect for those looking to increase their diet options without the weight gain. With only 1 gram of fat per serving, there are no sugars in kañiwa either. And since it’s a vegetable grain that resembles quinoa when cooked, there is no cholesterol or saturated fat.

Timesaving grain
Preparing meals with certain grains can take a while, but not with kañiwa. While quinoa, farro or rice need to be rinsed before cooking, kañiwa is one that can be skipped. You might recall that quinoa has an annoying, filmy coating on it, but kañiwa saves you prep time since it doesn’t have ‘saponins’ – that soapy-tasting coating usually found on its sister seed. This means, no rinsing! Additionally, this advantage gives kañiwa a faster cooking time unlike other whole grains.