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Couscous is a popular side dish that is common in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. It is made of small semolina (pasta) granules. It is often accompanied by meat, vegetables, or stew. Couscous calories and nutrition are dependent on the method of preparation you use but your meal can be a healthy addition.

Couscous is a Berber dish. It is traditionally served with a stew spooned on top of small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina. Pearl millet and sorghum can be cooked similarly, particularly in the Sahel and other cereals. The resulting dishes are sometimes referred to as couscous as well.

couscous
Couscous Dish

Couscous, once considered to be a North African delicacy, is now eaten worldwide. It can be found on most grocery store shelves.

It’s made from small balls of durum wheat or semolina flour. These are processed grain products.

Types of Couscous

Three types of couscous can be found: Moroccan, Israeli, and Lebanese. The smallest and most readily available variant is Moroccan couscous.

Israeli or pearl couscous, which takes longer to cook, is about the size of peppercorns. It tends to have a chewier texture and a nuttier flavor. The largest of the three is Lebanese couscous and it has the longest cooking time.

Nutrition Facts

For 1 cup of plain couscous cooked with no salt, seasoning or fat added, the following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

Calories174
Fat0 grams
Sodium13 mg
Carbohydrates36 grams
Fiber2 grams
Sugars0 grams
Protein6 grams

Carbs in Couscous

A single one-cup serving contains about 36 grams of carbohydrate or about 34 net carbs.

The bulk of the carbohydrate is starch. There is no naturally occurring or added sugar in it. However, if you buy a flavored variety then it has sugar added to it.

It is estimated to have a glycemic index of 65. That makes it a higher glycemic food than similar side dishes such as brown rice.

Fats in Couscous

A low fat (almost fat-free) food is a simple couscous that has been cooked in water with no added butter or oil. Many packaged, packed couscous products, however, advise you to add olive oil or another source of fat to the water. You’ll increase the fat content if you add some form of oil or butter to make couscous.

Protein in Couscous

When you eat a single serving, you will receive a good six-gram boost of protein. By adding shredded chicken, you will improve your meal’s protein. Protein also increases by eating it with fish such as tuna or salmon.

Micronutrients in Couscous

Significant vitamins and minerals are present in it.

In a single serving of couscous, you’ll get 6 mg of niacin. It provides a safe dose of pantothenic acid (2.2 mg), thiamin (0.3 mg), vitamin B6, and folate.

Minerals include manganese (1.3 mg), copper (0.4 mg), phosphorus (294 mg), magnesium (76 mg), iron, zinc, calcium and potassium.

Comparison of Rice and Couscous

It can be enjoyed as a healthier alternative to white or brown rice. So let’s see how they compare these famous side dishes.

There are fewer calories and carbohydrates than both brown and white rice for one cup of cooked couscous. More fiber is contained in it than in white rice. But when it comes to fiber, brown rice is the winner. Fiber helps improve digestive health and after feeding. It will make you stay full longer. These nutritional benefits will help you achieve a healthier weight and sustain it.

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Dishes with Couscous

Another macronutrient that will help you to attain and maintain a healthy weight is protein. Protein also allows you to develop powerful muscles and sustain them. It offers more protein than both white and brown rice.

It has the lowest amount of fat, but it can make a major difference in the preparation process. Brown rice contains the most fat. However, healthy fats are the types of fat found in brown rice (mono and polyunsaturated fat).

Health Benefits of Couscous

The following are its health benefits.

Couscous is Rich in Selenium

Selenium is one of the most essential nutrients that it contains.

Just one cup of couscous (157 grams) contains more than 60 percent of the recommended intake.

With several health benefits, selenium is an important mineral. It’s a strong antioxidant that helps repair damaged cells and reduce inflammation in your body.

It has a role in the wellbeing of thyroids, too. Selenium is essential for the proper function of the thyroid gland. It protects against damage and contributing to the development of hormones.

Good Source of Plant-based Proteins

Around 16-20 percent of the body consists of amino acid-based protein. Almost every metabolic process in your body contains amino acids.

As a result, consuming protein from animal and/or plant sources is essential. Couscous offers 6 grams of protein per one-cup (157-gram) serving. It is a decent source of plant-based protein.

Plant-based proteins contain only certain basic amino acids. They are known to be incomplete, except for soy and quinoa.

Couscous can be Easily Prepared

As it’s made from whole-wheat rice, it is also considered a healthier alternative to pasta. Usually, other pasta forms are more refined.

If properly cooked, is light and fluffy. What’s more, the taste of other ingredients appears to be carried on, making it very flexible.

Also, the preparation is very simple. In supermarkets, the Western version is sold in pre-steamed and dried form. With a fork, simply add water or broth, boil, and fluff.

It can be added to salads or eaten with meat and vegetables as a side dish.

To add more nutrients and amino acids to your diet, it can also be mixed with other grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, or farro, as well as vegetables.

Lower your Risk of Cancer

Selenium can also help to lower the risk of cancer. An analysis of 69 studies involving more than 350,000 individuals, found that high blood levels of selenium could protect against certain cancers. However, the effect was correlated with consuming foods rich in selenium.

Health Considerations for Couscous

While couscous contains some nutrients, you should consider a few things before consuming it.

High in Gluten

Although couscous contains some nutrients, before eating it you should consider a couple of things.

By grinding the endosperm of durum wheat, semolina flour is made. It’s regarded as a high-gluten product.

dish
Recipe made with Couscous

Since it is made from semolina flour, couscous contains gluten. For those with a gluten deficiency or sensitivity, this takes it off-limits.

Could Increase Blood Sugar Levels

It contains small amounts of protein that lowers blood sugar. However, it is fairly high in carbohydrates, with 36 grams per cup (157 grams).

When eating low-to-high carb foods people with blood sugar problems or diabetes should be vigilant. These foods can cause a blood sugar spike, which can have several adverse health effects.

Lower in Essential Nutrients

To help improve digestion and overall gut health, the fiber found in whole grains and wheat works as a prebiotic. However, better sources of whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats, arebetter sources of fiber than couscous.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

The way you cook your couscous makes a major difference in the nutritional advantages you achieve. With a small amount of butter or olive oil, many people boil it in water.

Your couscous calories will grow to approximately 236 per cup in that case. You will also get 8 grams of fat and five grams of saturated fat. If you’re sprinkling couscous with parmesan or other toppings, that adds more calories.

Calories remain the same if you boil it in chicken stock or if you use a packaged couscous brand, but the sodium level may increase. Just 13 milligrams of sodium is given by plain couscous boiled in water. However, when you cook it in salted chicken stock or add salt to the water, you’ll increase your sodium intake.

Allergies

According to the Food Allergy Testing and Education Centre, if you have a wheat allergy, you must avoid couscous. Symptoms, like hives or even serious reactions, such as anaphylaxis, may occur.

Conclusion

It is rich in selenium. It can help improve your immune system and reduce your risk of certain diseases such as cancer.

Nevertheless, while it has advantages for health and nutrition, it may not be everyone’s best carb option.

For some it contains gluten, making it off-limits. It also packs fewer nutrients than similar whole grains. Consider spooning couscous onto your plate if you’re looking for an easy-to-prepare grain product and don’t mind eating gluten.

Common Questions

Is couscous a good or bad carb?

Although couscous contains small amounts of protein that lowers blood sugar, it is fairly high in carbohydrates, with 36 grams per cup (157 grams).

Is couscous good for diet?

Couscous is low-in-fat, low-in-calories, and is a carbohydrate with a gradual release, meaning it takes longer to release energy into the body, which will keep you fuller for longer.

Which is healthier couscous or quinoa?

Quinoa wins in terms of overall wellbeing! Quinoa is the better alternative with maximum protein, fiber, and lots of micronutrients. Couscous is a great option for those counting calories or short on time.

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