#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).

100 Comment

  1. Azzie says: Reply

    Wow, this is somehow reassuring to read (though im sorry you’ve all been experiencing pain!)
    This has now happened to me 🙁 i used to eat quinoa all the time, then one time last year i ate it and crazy stomach cramps and vomiting, then again and stomach cramps…then i left it for a while and also thought perhaps it was because it was quite an old packet of quinoa…or because i didn’t wash it properly….so i bought a new packet (red white and black this time) AND made sure to wash it, but alas, horrible stomach cramps all night long 🙁
    so i what you wrote Cali makes a lot of sense, which is a shame as it means no more quinoa for me either 🙁 boo!
    Does anyone have any good ‘superfood’ style grains that they substitute for quinoa maybe? im vegan so have to find my protein in other foods 😉
    oh also i read somewhere to see a doc if have these cramps – s this necessary when im quite sure its quinoa…?
    Azzie 🙂

    1. Calee says: Reply

      Hi! I’m sorry you’ve been experiencing this. I would definitely see a doctor anyway because this might have hurt your GI system in other ways. That, and I’m not a doctor so finding this info on a blog isn’t probably the best diagnosis.

      Ideas for vegan protein…? We eat a TON of beans, tempeh, tofu, etc. Quinoa was great for protein. There are other non-cereal grains, like amaranth but I’m not sure on their protein. That one is the first I’d look at, though. Good luck!

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