#PSA Wash your Quinoa Unless you Want a Food Allergy – life+running

#PSA Wash your Quinoa Unless you Want a Food Allergy

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).

98 Comment

  1. Liz says: Reply

    Thanks for sharing. I wish I had read it before having stomach cramps, back ache and vomiting, and feeling like my stomach was full of poison. Spent two days on the couch and two days in hospital. L good bye quinoa..

  2. Al says: Reply

    I started eating quinoa almost daily back in April and never had a problem until 3 weeks ago: horrible stomach pains. Nothing else I eat creates the same condition. I’ve made more quinoa, thinking it can’t POSSIBLY be this super-superfood creating these pains, with 4 different recipes (one I didn’t even make –a friend did) and it happens every time now. so sad :((

  3. Kaylynn says: Reply

    Got a severe rash and terrible stomach ache after eating quinoa,,found your info after the fact,however still very grateful for this explanation.
    Kindest Regards

    1. chimes says: Reply

      Yuck. 🙁 sorry to hear about that! Take care.

  4. Tamara says: Reply

    The times I tried quinoa I had washed it scrupulously for far longer than was advised on the label. Unfortunately it seems that the longer you eat it the more chance you have of developing an allergy and the reactions tend not to be mild. I can only compare my stomach pain to the image of an alien trying to rip its way our of my stomach – it does feel like you are dying.

  5. Well, sorry to say this but, glad I’m not the only one. I wish I would have known this 24 hours ago AND before cooking enough quinoa for a weeks worth of meals. I CAN NOT believe there is no requirement for a WARNING label on this product. For the past 24 hours I haven’t been able to cope with the agony of hives due to quinoa allergies without Benadryl, cortisone creams, ice packs, and trying to flush my system with as much water as possible.

  6. Thank you for your helpful comments and advice. I have now experienced 3 bouts of extreme diarrhea nausea and very painful stomach cramps after eating quinoa, oh yes and severe back aches and sweating. Even my hert was racing. I wasn’t sure before if it was from the quinoa but now it makes sense, I still am weak from last nights bout. Yes, where is the warning!!! And in restaurants!

  7. Felicity Marshall says: Reply

    I had a severe allergic reaction to quinoa despite washing and rinsing and rinsing and rinsing. I developed urticaria (hives) from my scalp throughout my whole body to my feet. This lasted for about 5-6 days and was sheer itching hell. At first I did not believe it was the quinoa causing this. So merrily cooked and ate some again a couple of weeks later. Same nightmare result. No one believed it was the quinoa. The two health food shops where I shop said it was impossible to be allergic to it – why it was hailed as the new superfood!!! My sister and niece were both violently ill with terrible stomach cramps and vomiting when they cooked it. So, never again quinoa. Pity – I liked it. It just certainly didn’t like me!!!

  8. Bri says: Reply

    Just had my third reaction to quinoa. Awful pain, worst of life so far. Definitely the same as Tamara – alien bores its way out of my stomach for the third time. Also quite distended in the stomach area. I didn’t wash my quinoa when cooking, but I will make sure to tell my clients and everyone I know to do so (I am a Dietitian).

  9. Laurie Angela says: Reply

    I’ve had a horrible rash on my face that started with my eyelids and morphed to my forehead and face. One dermatologist said it was eczema and another said it was sebo-psoriasis. Three ophthalmologists called my itchy eyelids blepheritis and my GP doctor calls it an internal fungal infection for which I’m on oral flucanazole (hard on your liver.) Nothing is working. I’m wondering if it could be an allergic reaction to the quiona. I don’t get any stomach pains at all, just painful itchy, dry and red facial skin. What do you think? Have you heard of other people experiencing this? I too have never washed my quinoa until just recently. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. alyssa says: Reply

      I used to eat quinoa all yhe time last summer and had no issues. A few weeks ago I was at a work buffet function and had some quinoa and had terrible stomach cramps for about 3 hours. Thought it was maybe the fish or chicken and didn’t think anything of it until last night. I made quinoa for the first I’m in a while, and made red quinoa which I haven’t done before. I knew to rinse it, so I did, but I didn’t know why it needed to be rinsed. Anyway I was up all night with extremely painful stomach cramps and vomitting. Woke up this morning still not feeling right but better, however may face is covered in tiny red spots like hives and that’s a first. Too bad! I love quinoa and I don’t generally have food allergies so this caught me by surprise.

  10. Deb says: Reply

    I recently experienced a burning red rash all over my face and neck, and thought it was from the foundation I was using,so I changed it. I had eaten quinoa the day before the reaction started but didn’t make a connection. I also never had any stomach pain at all. A few weeks later I woke up with the same burning face rash after having quinoa for lunch the previous day, which I didn’t rinse and was very bitter- which makes me think it could be the culprit. The quinoa was the only common thread in these reactions so I’m definitely not chancing it again!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: