Physiological Effects Associated with Quinoa Consumption and Implications for Research Involving Humans: a Review

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2015 Sep;70(3):238-49. doi: 10.1007/s11130-015-0506-5.


Quinoa is a pseudo-grain consumed as a dietary staple in South America. In recent years, consumer demand for quinoa in the developed world has grown steadily. Its perceived health benefits have been cited as a driving force behind this trend, but there are very few human studies investigating the impact of quinoa consumption. The aim of this review was to identify physiological effects of quinoa consumption with potential for human health. A critical evaluation of animal model studies was conducted. The quality of identified studies was assessed using a methodological quality assessment tool and summative conclusions were drawn to guide the direction of future human research. The majority of studies were of fair quality. Purported physiological effects of quinoa consumption included decreased weight gain, improved lipid profile and improved capacity to respond to oxidative stress. These physiological effects were attributed to the presence of saponins, protein and 20-hydroxyecdysone in the quinoa seed. The implications of these findings are that human studies should investigate the impact of quinoa consumption on weight gain and lipid levels. The role of quinoa as an antioxidant is still unclear and requires further elucidation in animal models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Chenopodium quinoa / chemistry*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Ecdysterone / pharmacology
  • Edible Grain / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Proteins
  • Saponins
  • Ecdysterone