What is bulgur wheat?
Bulgur wheat is a whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially pre-cooked. As a whole grain, it is a naturally high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie vegetarian and vegan food ingredient.
In other words, bulgur wheat is cracked and pre-cooked wheat (as opposed to wheat berries, which are the whole, un-cracked and uncooked version, and freekeh, which is young green wheat which has been cracked).
Because it is a wheat, bulgur wheat is not suitable for those on a gluten-free diet.
Bulgur Wheat Nutrition Health Benefits
Eating bulgur wheat may help to alleviate chronic inflammation, thereby protecting against some diseases.
In a clinical study published in the February 2008 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” researchers found that people who consumed higher amounts of betaine, a metabolite found in whole wheat.
Had lower concentrations of homocysteine, a marker of chronic inflammation that has been linked to heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes.
Cuts Gallstone Risk
Bulgur wheat may help reduce your risk of developing gallstones. Insoluble fiber in whole wheat helps food move more rapidly through the intestines.
Reduces the secretion of bile, helps your body use insulin more effectively and lowers triglycerides, or unhealthy fats found in the blood.
In addition to providing these beneficial effects, which may help guard against gallstones, the fiber in bulgur wheat may alleviate symptoms of diverticular disease.
Fiber supplied by whole grains such as bulgur wheat may help protect against cancer.
In a clinical study published in the “International Journal of Epidemiology” in 2007, researchers found that pre-menopausal women with diets high in fiber had a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
With one cup of cooked bulgur wheat supplying 8.19 g of dietary fiber, or 32.8 percent of the recommended daily value, bulgur wheat is a good fiber source.
Good Source of Minerals
Bulgur wheat is a very good source of manganese, providing 1.11 mg –or 55.5 percent of the daily value– per cup.
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that manganese, a trace mineral found in the bones and some internal organs, is essential for normal brain and nerve function.
It also helps in the formation of connective tissues and in the proper clotting of blood.
One cup of cooked bulgur wheat supplies 58.24 mg, or 14.6 percent, of the DV of magnesium, which helps to regulate calcium levels in the body.
Consuming More Bulgar
Use bulgar in place of wheat berries, couscous or rice in your favorite grain salad recipes.
Alternatively, stir a handful of bulgar into your leafy green salads to make them more filling. Or combine bulgar, sauteed vegetables and lean protein for a healthful casserole.
Bulgar also works well served as a breakfast cereal — simply top it with nuts and fresh fruit for a filling a nutritious breakfast.
Which is Healthier Quinoa vs Bulgur
Lots of people around the globe, are wondering whether quinoa is the best grain or not-technically it’s a seed, but eaten as a grain- Yes it’s packed with nutrients, but should you jump to buy it?
QUINOA VS BULGUR
Bulgur is a local grain in my home country Jordan, it is in the Middle East. It’s the main ingredient in traditional meals like “Tabbouleh” which is a raw bulgur salad with chopped parsley, and tomato.
Another popular dish has bulgur is a “Mujaddarah Burghol” which is basically a bulgur pilaf mixed with lentils, and caramelized onions.
And finally “Maftoul” which is mixture between flour, and bulgur.
Quinoa is a seed, but it’s treated like a grain when it’s cooked.
The hometown of quinoa is Bolivia, and Chili, but now it is grown also here in the U.S . It’s mostly used as source of vegan protein.
It has a mild flavor, so it goes well with almost any food. For Quinoa recipes, please check out my post All you need to know about Quinoa!
And this easy quinoa pilaf I made.
Quinoa: It has 8g Protein per cup, it’s a complete one, which means it has all the essential amino acid your body need.
It is moderate in Calories which are 220 per cup. It has good amounts of B vitamins especially Folate, and has a good amounts of minerals like Magnesium, and Manganese. And has 5g of Fiber.
Bulgur: It has less Protein which is 6g per cup, and less Calories than quinoa per cup, which is around 150.
For the vitamins, it has good amount of Vitamin E and almost the same B Vitamins composition, but with less amount. And the same thing goes with minerals. But it’s higher in Fibers which are 8g.
If you are watching calories, and looking for weight loss, bulgur may be a better option for you.
If you are looking for maximizing your vitamins and minerals intake, you should go for quinoa.
A big difference between quinoa, and bulgur, that quinoa is a gluten free seed. Bulgur is made from wheat kernels, that makes it hard for anyone follow gluten free diet to try it.
So it’s an advantage for quinoa.
Quinoa, and bulgur have different profile when it comes to antioxidants (nutrients that help to get rid of free radicals from the body that believed to cause cancer, and other diseases).
In a recent study in Turkey they found that bulgur have a high amount of fiber, and antioxidants.
If you want to get a variety of antioxidants, it would be the best if you can eat quinoa, and bulgur both.
Personally, I didn’t like quinoa when I tried it. But I think that is because the dish wasn’t very appetizing after all, and I didn’t cook it myself!
When I decide to try it, I will share a recipe and my personal experience with it (update: here is my recipe).
However, bulgur is one of my favorite grains.
It is versatile, crunchy when it’s raw, soft with a subtle sweet natural flavor when it’s cooked. Here are recipes I made with bulgur.
Availability and Cost
Quinoa is now grown in the U.S, and many countries in addition to Mexico, Chili, and Bolivia. So you can easily fetch a local one.
However, bulgur may not be available at any retail store. And you may need to go a special store to get it. But it’s getting more popular, and easier to find than ever before.
If you are in the middle east you can pick bulgur, because quinoa would be an imported product, and much more expensive.
If you are in north Africa you can pick couscous which is also cheaper than quinoa. The point is better to go local, and to go with the available products.
The nutrition difference is subtle between bulgur, and quinoa, and if you argue that quinoa has a complete protein, that’s a good point.
But bulgur usually accompanied with protein which make is it a good choice. As health advocate, you should look at the whole picture not for minimal differences.
If you have kidney or liver problems for example you may need to count every gram of protein. Also price should be considered.
How to Cook Bulgur Wheat
Bulgur wheat is a staple grain in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, often used in salads and in place of rice.
Made from cracked wheat that has been parboiled and dried for quick cooking. Bulgur has a chewy texture and light nutty flavor.
If you’ve every wondered how to cook bulgur wheat, here’s how:
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
- Remove from the heat, stir in 1 cup of uncooked bulgur wheat and a pinch of salt.
- Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain any excess liquid, fluff, and serve.
- If you want to increase the amount, just keep the ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part bulgur wheat.
Unlike rice and other grains, bulgur doesn’t need to constantly be on the stove to cook. This technique steams the bulgur making it tender and fluffy.
And don’t worry about adding too much water, you can always drain the bulgur at the end!