EDIT ON JULY 25, 2013:

For those of you just joining me from a Google search, Pinterest, or somebody else’s blog, please read my update on this situation when you’re done reading this article as it has more information about food allergies in general.

If you’ve eaten quinoa (washed or unwashed) and had an allergic reaction, you’ll likely have another allergic reaction to quinoa no matter how much you wash it next time. Your body saw the quinoa protein come in with the toxin and probably will recognize the protein AS the toxin. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild itching … to DEATH. So be very careful!


I don’t normally post twice in a day, but this is important. Very important. It affects my health, and it potentially can affect the health of many, many others as the popularity of quinoa has grown exponentially since the advent of Pinterest and paleo-esque diets.

I’m having a pretty moderate reaction to my breakfast right now. I had quinoa, which was leftover from a batch I had on Wednesday night, which was followed by a MASSIVE 8-hour-long stomachcrampfest and near-death pain (okay not near-death but it freaking hurt). I chalked it up to the fact that I had bananas (see my note at the bottom) that day, and figured I’d just quit the naners for a while.

I’m now making the connection as I’m having some of the same symptoms as the other day, and haven’t had a banana since (YES  I can have bananas again!).

So … you’d think if there was a toxic substance in a food that can easily be removed by washing properly, there might be a WARNING label somewhere on the package.

Nope. Not with quinoa.

Quinoa has a naturally occurring toxic substance on it that can easily be removed by washing it properly.

If you do not wash quinoa properly, you can ingest the naturally occurring saponin, which protects the plant from insect and fungal attacks. Saponin is soapy, bitter, and toxic, and is actually used to make detergents. So you really should not eat it.

From what I’ve read all over the internets in my desperate attempt to find some relief is that if you have a reaction from quinoa like this, that if you ingest the saponin, your body will start to recognize the grain itself as being dangerous, and regardless of how much you wash it, you will continue to have reactions that worsen each time you eat it.

So bye, bye, quinoa. You are one of my favorite gluten-free grains. I guess I can add this to my already mile-long list of things I can’t eat. And to think, it could have been prevented if a simple WARNING LABEL was put on the packaging, or along with any quinoa recipes I’ve seen, giving proper cleaning instructions.

wash quinoa properly before eating or you could develop an irreversible allergy to the grain // lifeplusrunning.com // PLEASE REPIN

[source for original quinoa image]

Consider this your warning, and please pin this image and pass along as much as possible because it’s such a simple thing to do to avoid having to deal with a food allergy, or being in pain for hours on end. 

I’ve included a warning on all my quinoa recipes so that those who come across any of my recipes will at least have been warned of this issue.

This post about allergic reactions to quinoa gives instructions for washing your quinoa. Please read the instructions and wash this grain properly so you don’t develop an allergy and aren’t able to enjoy it anymore as I have done.

Here’s some more info about quinoa allergies.

I’m off to take some benedryl. I’m hoping that if I can wash a batch properly that I will not have this same reaction (send me some good vibes!)


Do you have food allergies?

I’ve never had an actual food allergy before. I’m sensitive to gluten and if I ingest a lot, I get really sick a few days later. I’m also sensitive to inulin, which is why bananas and onions sometimes make me sick (unless cooked).

89 Responses to #PSA Wash your Quinoa Unless you Want a Food Allergy

  1. Dawn says:

    I have been eating quinoa for some time now, and have be exsperiencing awful pain just below my ribs in the middle? Could this also be due to the quinoa?
    You speak of stomach cramps, but what part of the stomach did you exsperience pain?

  2. Karine says:

    Pepto Bismol! Tonight was the second time I had a reaction from eating quinoa. The first time I wasn’t sure what had caused it. Today I had some again and within 15 minutes of eating it, I started to feel severe stomach cramps. After spending 3 hours curled up on the bathroom floor, my husband went and got me Pepto Bismol. It was an immediate relief! Needless to say I won’t be eating quinoa ever agsin!

  3. Nicole says:

    I’ve eaten the shite quinoa with no issues. However I had bought a bad with white, red and black. The first time I had it I ended up so nauseous and barfed until I was dry heaving and nothing was coming out. I needed gravol and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. I chalked it up to a stomach bug. That was to months ago. Last night I thought I’d try it again. I made it for work this morning. I mixed in my seasonings and took a spoonful to sample. I was feeling fine at work then all of a sudden I had horrible stomach cramps and started to puke at work until I was dry heaving. Came home and dry heaved until it hurt so bad. I again took gravol. Both times it’s been accompanied by diarrhea. It may be a coincidence but this is the only thing common in both instances.

  4. Susie says:

    Thanks for this! I ate quinoa porridge in two cool cafes with 8 days between eatings. Had a violent reaction both times! Confirmed intolerance to quinoa. Both times severe abdominal cramping, diahorrea and vomiting.

  5. Kristy says:

    Huzaaah just had a breakthrough moment where I now know it was the quinoa, not the other food I have eaten that is causing this horrible pain. I had made a chilli con carne (not too spicy) and we tried to be healty and have this with quinoa instead of rice. Both times I tried to eat this for lunch, two seperate days I was sick. I am talking worst heartburn like symptoms ever, nausea and general discomfort enough to spend those two afternoons in the work toilet vomiting.

    I didn’t eat the chilli con carne again. My partner had no issues ever. Today…2 months later I have had quinoa in a super food salad and a half hour later, bam the familiar pain! So now I know it is the quinoa, not the spice or the tomato in my chilli. Feel shocking now.

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