Arabic cooking couscous what is couscous

What is couscous? Possible advantages and disadvantages of couscous

The more we learn about the inflammatory properties of conventional grains, the more people look for healthier alternatives. It is one of those alternatives Coucou - and gen


The more we learn about the inflammatory properties of traditional grains, the more people are looking for healthier alternatives. One of those alternatives is couscous - and exactly what is Couscous?

Many people confuse couscous with Andean millet, because they are somewhat similar in appearance. While quinoa is a gluten-free old grain, couscous actually contains gluten and isn't usually sold in whole grains.

While whole grain couscous is a good product to add to your pantry on occasion, I don't use it regularly, like amaranth or quinoa. So what exactly is couscous, what is couscous good for, and should you use it?

Let's look at what couscous is, how it may (or may not) be beneficial to your health, and possible alternatives.

What is couscous?

Most think of couscous as a grain, but that's not exactly. Technically, “couscous is a pasta made from semolina flour mixed with water.” (1) Semolina flour is extremely rich in gluten and a common flour used in pasta because it makes noodles firm and is not as sticky as many other flours.

Durum wheat is the natural type of wheat from which semolina flour is made before it is made into couscous. Durum wheat is the second most widely grown type of wheat after common wheat and is often referred to as "pasta wheat" or "macaroni wheat".

Interestingly, durum wheat is quite high in protein. It also contains around 3 percent more extractable (“wet”) gluten than common wheat, which is used to make most bread products.

After the labor-intensive process of making couscous is mechanized, it is not difficult to make and sell couscous in bulk. Typically it is used as an ingredient in salads, stews, or any other dish you might use Wild rice or Orzo.

Additionally, you can find or make wheat couscous, preferably whole grain couscous, and it can be used in the same way as regular couscous.

Is Couscous Good For You?

After answering the question, "What is couscous?" It is important to understand whether or not it is a healthy, life-giving food. Couscous isn't a well-researched food in terms of health benefits, but using whole grains in certain people's diets can have some general benefits.

For the purposes of this list of couscous benefits, I am only referring to Whole grain couscousAs the endosperm is removed from germ and bran, grains are removed with most of the health benefits that they might otherwise contain.

When you look at the advantages over the possible disadvantages of couscous, you will find that this cereal is not dangerous and does not necessarily harm you. I just don't think the potential benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Why worry about eating this food when there are better alternatives to couscous?

What is couscous good for? Possible couscous benefits

1. Associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases

Over the years, whole grains have been studied for their association with minor chronic diseases. Many large observational studies have found that a diet high in whole grains correlates with a lower risk of heart disease. Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. (2, 3)

Couscous contains remarkable amounts of several key nutrients such as niacin, thiamine, and folic acid, all of which are necessary for a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.

A grain-free diet If you only stick to gluten-free grains, unless you find that your body is better off grain-free, consuming whole grains like couscous can help your body protect itself from some chronic diseases.

2. Contains antioxidants

One reason whole grains can be disease protective is because they contain antioxidants. A lot of people don't think of whole grains Foods high in antioxidantsBut whole grains, including whole wheat durum wheat (which is used to make couscous), contain comparable amounts of antioxidants to most fruits and vegetables. (4, 5)

The phytochemicals and antioxidants in whole grains are considered unique by some researchers and may contain beneficial nutrients such as Lutein, Zeaxanthin and β-cryptoxanthin. It's important to note that these antioxidants are found almost entirely in sprouts and bran, which means that conventional endosperm-only couscous is unlikely to have any of these antioxidants and their relationship benefits. (6)

In particular, a serving of whole grain couscous contains 62 percent of your daily needs selenium, a vital antioxidant mineral with many benefits. Selenium has been a research topic linked to beneficial antiviral effects, male and female fertility, and reduced risk of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and thyroid diseases. (7)

In general, antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress, which is linked to high levels of chronic inflammation and disease risk.

3. Supports digestive health

Whole grains like couscous seem to support gastrointestinal health because of their fiber content. (8) The fiber in whole grains acts as a prebioticSupports digestion and general intestinal health. Prebiotic fibers are also linked to increased immunity since 80 percent of your immune system lives in your gut. (9)

4. Can aid weight loss

The digestive effects of couscous and other whole grain products are also linked to lower body weight. While diet options for Weight loss Non-gluten sensitive people may find that whole grain couscous supports a weight loss lifestyle when consumed in moderation. (10)

What is couscous not good for? Couscous cons

Personally, I don't eat a lot of foods that contain gluten because the genetically modified gluten found in most grain products is flammable and frankly unnecessary. An exception for me are sprouted, USDA certified organic whole grain products like Ezekiel bread.

But what is couscous in this context - sprouted and USDA certified organic or filled with artificial ingredients and GMOs? No genetically engineered wheat products are made commercially anywhere in the world, although hybridization must be considered (which I'll get to in a moment). Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, couscous is not available in sprouted form. However, it is possible to find USDA certified organic couscous.

So what are some potential downsides to couscous?

1. Made from hybridized wheat

Durum wheat is technically not genetically modified in the same way Corn is, it is created through a process of natural hybridization. Making hybridized wheat is a process by which scientists (or nature) combine genes from different species into a new species. Although hybridization that occurs in durum wheat occurs naturally, research is currently underway to find ways to genetically modify these hybrid species and to facilitate commercial production. (11)

Why is that important? While current scientific trends did not allow for much research on the subject, Dr. William Davis, author of "Wheat Belly" and creator of the Wheat Belly Diet, gives his opinion on wheat hybridization: (12)

On the other hand, some agricultural experts and scientists claim that neither genetically modified foods nor hybridized foods are in any way harmful to health and arise in an attempt to rationalize and improve production processes.

Ultimately, you need to decide what is right for you and your family. I prefer to stay away from as much hybridized food when I can and eat what grows naturally without so much human intervention to manipulate it.

2. Contains gluten

While the topic of the real benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle is a hot button right now, it's important to note that couscous contains gluten. More and more science is realizing that those with either a Gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease will greatly benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet.

People on one Celiac Disease Diet should never consume couscous in any form.

Some people report that whole grains processed in ways other than western commercialized agriculture take the strain off their digestive system and do not cause the same problems as traditional wheat products. However, this type of personal experiment should only be performed under the supervision of your doctor.

Modern gluten is associated with Inflammation, which is the root of most diseases. (13) Results from animal studies suggest that eliminating gluten can help both weight loss and reduce inflammation. (14) In humans, a gluten-free diet for healthy people can lead to an improvement in gut bacteria (diversity in the Microbiome), decreased inflammation and better immune responses. (fifteen)

3. High on the glycemic index

Even for a gluten-containing cereal, couscous is very popular glycemic index. While it is true that a diet containing whole grains is considered disease protective, it is also true that women who eat a higher glycemic diet are more likely to be type 2, according to the large-scale Nurses' Health Study. Diabetes or heart disease develop as those who eat low glycemic diets. Namely, the higher glycemic load in the first group of the study was specifically linked to refined carbohydrates (such as conventional couscous). (16)

Foods with a glycemic index (GI) of 50–70 are considered in the “medium” range, while foods below 50 are considered “low” in the GI. Anything over 70 is considered "high".

Couscous is 65 on the glycemic index per 150 grams. For reference, this number of grams of whole grain kernels is 45, brown rice is 50 and quinoa clocks are 53. (17)

The benefits of consuming more low glycemic index foods include not only reducing your risk for heart disease, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, but also normalized blood sugar, decreased appetite, and stabilized energy levels.

What is the couscous diet?

There are a decent number of nutrients in a serving of couscous. What is the couscous diet in general? It's similar to the profile of something Brown rice and quinoa, although quinoa definitely wins my "superfood badge" for the amount of vitamins and minerals per serving it contains.

One cup of cooked couscous (approximately 157 grams) contains approximately: (18)

  • 176 calories
  • 36.5 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5.9 grams of protein
  • 0.3 grams of fat
  • 2.2 grams Fiber
  • 43.2 micrograms selenium (62 percent DV)
  • 1.5 milligrams niacin/ Vitamin B3 (8 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams thiamine / vitamin B1 (7 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams manganese (7 percent DV)
  • 23.5 micrograms of folic acid (6 percent DV)
  • 0.6 milligrams pantothenic acid / vitamin B5 (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams of vitamin B6 (4 percent DV)
  • 0.6 milligrams iron (3 percent DV)
  • 12.6 milligrams magnesium (3 percent DV)
  • 34.5 milligrams of phosphorus (3 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams zinc (3 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams copper (3 percent DV)
  • 34.5 milligrams of phosphorus (3 percent DV)

Couscous versus other types of rice, pasta, and grains

Couscous is nutritionally similar to many types of rice, grains, and pasta. The biggest differences in many ways are the presence of gluten and the type of couscous (whole wheat vs. refined). In other ways, couscous is similar to most types of rice, pasta, and grains (although they may be a little less healthy than these).

For example, white rice is higher on the GI than couscous (ranked as a high GI food at 72) while brown rice is 15 points lower at 50. Sweetcorn comes in at 48 while it's pearlescent barley Couscous is superior to many popular varieties such as fettuccine pasta (32), macaroni (50), white spaghetti (46), and whole grain spaghetti (42).

When it comes to gluten, most pasta is similar to couscous in that it is precisely formed there the presence of gluten. However, rice is usually gluten-free, and grains are a mistake. Some grains, such as buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa, are gluten-free, while others, such as Bulgur wheat, Barley and rye contain gluten.

Couscous versus quinoa

Because they look (and taste) so similar, couscous is often compared to quinoa. In my opinion there is no comparison.

While the potential benefits of couscous are limited at best, quinoa is a well-researched superfood. For example, the quinoa diet can help you lose weight, can help fight cancer, supports a healthy heart, contains plenty of antioxidants known as Bioflavonoids, supports digestive health, supports proper bone health, and may also reduce the risk of diabetes.

Whenever I have to pick, I choose quinoa every time. What is couscous when compared to a powerhouse like quinoa?

Where to find couscous

If you want to try it, couscous can be found at most grocery stores in the United States. It is often offered in the pasta, rice or "international food" sectors. Unlike many Middle Eastern ingredients, it's so popular that it's easy to find.

Some types of couscous contain pre-seasoned grains. So keep that in mind depending on which couscous recipe you are using at any given time. Many experts recommend starting with unflavored couscous to give yourself a real chance to learn the flavor profile and what you are doing and what you don't want to do with it.

There are also several types of couscous that you can find depending on how complex a variety is in your local store. Larger couscous can be called "pearl" or "Israeli" couscous and will take longer to cook. The smaller varieties of couscous are more like what you can expect if you bought them in the Maghreb, where they originated. These can be referred to as "Libyan" or "Lebanese".

If you're incredibly adventurous and located in the Middle East, you can even get your hands on traditionally handmade couscous. It's a complicated skill to master and a fairly labor-intensive process, which is why you can only find commercially made strains in most places in the US.

What is couscous used for? How to use or make couscous

Most people aren't interested in taking the time to make handmade couscous. However, it's a fascinating, complex process.

First, durum wheat is placed on a millstone and ground. The endosperm is resistant to grinding, and that's what you have left - this end product is known as semolina flour. After this step, water is sprinkled on the semolina, which is then rolled into small pellets by hand, while these are sprinkled with dry flour to achieve separation. After a few days (yes, you read that right) the separated pellets are placed in sunlight to dry and can be used for months.

Roll, rinse, repeat.

To take this step, in western life, visit a grocery store and buy a bag of couscous.

Couscous is actually quite easy to use in recipes. You can boil it, but most sources recommend just pouring boiling water over it to shake the noodle pellets again. Otherwise it can get muddy. Another alternative might be a specialized couscous pot, but these pots are often expensive and definitely not necessary for making couscous recipes.

As for taste, couscous tends to take on the flavor of what you cook it with, which is why many people choose to cook it in a sort of broth like that bone broth. It has a similar taste to semolina noodles as they are made on the same basis. Larger pellet couscous tastes more “nutty” than smaller, more authentic varieties.

Be careful when making couscous recipes: it's ready fast. If you don't cook it by steaming (the more "traditional" method) which takes about 90 minutes, you will find that either boiling or overflowing boiling water will result in a finished product in just a few minutes. From then on, it's pretty hard to mess up - couscous goes well with almost any dish.

Couscous recipes

There are a few easy couscous recipes you can try, such as savory couscous. This super simple recipe only requires a few grass-fed butter, Onion, garlic, fresh coriander and chicken broth (or bone broth if you're a huge fan of me). Coriander, in particular, helps lower blood sugar so it can counteract some of the unwanted blood sugar spikes that couscous causes.

For a flavorful variety of couscous that is great for salads, try plain lemon couscous. Lemon food is impressively rich in antioxidants and boosts immunity and heart health.

You might also want to try making Israeli couscous, the larger version of the traditional Maghrebian couscous. It's a great way to make a pilaf, and it tastes great with a stir-fry too.

Better alternatives to couscous + recipes

Personally, I like to stick to old grains with more health benefits than couscous. Instead of couscous, it might be time to try something Millet recipes? My roundup of 24 recipes made with millet (an alkaline, low GI gluten-free food) spans everything from breakfast bowl millet to chocolate and nut millet squares.

You can also use bulgur wheat as an alternative to couscous or quinoa. Try a tabouli bulgur wheat salad for a tasty, alkaline meal.

Of course, quinoa is my favorite couscous alternative. This versatile grain tastes great Bell peppers stuffed with beef and quinoa, or have a soothing sweet treat with mine baked quinoa with apple recipe.

Some people recommend using rice instead of couscous. I would agree that rice is better than couscous as it is brown rice. White rice doesn't have any legitimate nutritional benefits, but brown rice has a lower glycemic index and is good for your health.

History and interesting facts

In western North Africa lies a desert region known as the Maghreb. Five countries are represented in this large part of the Sahara, including Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia and Western Sahara. Those who live in these countries usually speak Maghrebi Arabic or Berber.

They are also the people who discovered the process of making couscous. Hence, it should come as no surprise that it is popular in African cuisine.

The traditional couscous dish from the seventh century was considered a North African delicacy and is now used as a staple of African cuisine throughout the region.

Making properly cooked couscous is a specific process, similar to making couscous, and couscous is often steamed. Traditional North African families often use a taseksut (also known as a couscoussier or kiskas) to steam couscous. This metal pot resembles an oil jar and is made up of two parts: the bottom where the stew is cooked and the top where the couscous from the stew is steamed so it can absorb the flavors of the hearty stew.


As I mentioned earlier, couscous is a pasta that contains gluten, so anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should steer clear. Couscous can also cause unwanted blood sugar spikes and should be eaten with caution by people Diabetes symptoms.

You can be allergic to any food, including couscous. If symptoms of a food allergy (such as swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat, rash, or itching / burning around the mouth) occur after eating couscous, stop eating and contact your doctor. He or she can determine if you have had an allergic reaction to couscous.

Final thoughts on "what is couscous?"

What is couscous? It's a pasta that is often considered a grain and comes from the North African region of the Sahara known as the Maghreb. It has been eaten by families in this region for centuries and has gained prominence in the western world in recent years.

What is couscous good for? When bought in whole grains (although, as I said, it's technically a pasta), it may be linked to some of the health benefits obtained from eating whole grains, such as: B. Reduced risk of chronic disease, high antioxidant load, digestive support and weight loss.

However, some of the possible disadvantages of couscous include:

  1. Made from hybridized wheat
  2. Contains gluten
  3. High on the glycemic index

Couscous recipes are huge in that they take on the flavor of cooking and fit into most types of dishes. It has a mild, pasta-like taste.

Personally, I think there are better alternatives to couscous that either don't contain gluten or are directly health benefits. My favorites are buckwheat, Amaranth, Bulgur wheat, millet and of course quinoa.

Read on: The High-Fiber, Gluten-Free Old Grain: Sorghum Flour