Couscous Nutrition Facts, Variety Information and Health Benefits

There is a lot of mystery about couscous, which is a traditional dish popular in North Africa and made from granules of semolina (durum wheat).

The fine granules are steamed or boiled in minimal water, so all the moisture is absorbed into the granules. It is really a form or micro pasta. Couscous is fabulous when served with a meat or vegetable stews or curries are spooned over it.

The traditional Moroccan couscous is made by sprinkling semolina (durum wheat) flour with water and the dough is hand-rolled to form tiny pellets of various sizes depending on the variety.

These soft pellets are then rubbed in flour to keep them apart, sieved and then dried and packed.

The pellets are then dried to form the tiny granules of couscous that you buy in the packets.

Israeli Couscous is nutritious as long it is the variety made with whole grains
Israeli Couscous is nutritious as long it is the variety made with whole grains | Source
Traditional Moroccan Couscous is hand made
Traditional Moroccan Couscous is hand made | Source
Some couscous is finer than rice grains
Some couscous is finer than rice grains | Source

The couscous that you buy in most Western supermarkets is made with machinery. It has already been steamed, par-cooked and then re-dried, so that it ‘cooks’ in 5 minutes or less. It can be simply cooked by adding the specified amount of boiling water or stock and a little butter and leaving covered for about 5 minutes. The couscous granules swell and are separated before serving by fluffing with a fork. The pre-steamed couscous takes much less time to cook than regular couscous and about one fifth the time to cook most dried pasta, or rice.

Nutrients in Cooked Couscous

One cup of cooked Moroccan couscous contains:

  • Calories 176
  • Carbohydrates 36 g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Protein 6 g
  • No sugar, cholesterol and fat-free (except for the added butter)
  • Sodium 8 mg
  • Potassium 91 mg

[see table below for full list of nutrients]

Whole wheat couscous, Israeli Couscous (ptitim) is much more nutritious. In similar way that brown rice being more nutritious than white rice. It is made from whole-wheat durum flour. It contains 5 to 6 grams of fiber per serving, which is more than three time that in other couscous. It also has more vitamins and other nutrients. The grains are larger – about the size of a small pearl and they take longer to cook, but they are much healthier and better for you. But avoid the Israeli couscous that is made from refined white flour, and choose the whole grain variety

Warnings about Couscous

  • Because Israeli couscous is made from wheat flour, it is not a gluten-free food. though it is a vegetarian and vegan food.
  • Both traditional and Israeli couscous are not diet foods as they have high calories and high levels of carbohydrate. They are essentially equivalent to white and brown rice.

Traditional couscous and whole grain varieties have a higher glycemic index than many other whole grains:

  • Couscous - 65
  • Brown rice - 50
  • Bulgur 48

Conclusion

Couscous is certainly a very convenient food to prepare and the whole grain varieties are healthier than pasta, rice or mashed potatoes (without the skin). Traditional couscous made with white flour is essentially micro pasta.

Nutritional Values for one cup of cooked Couscous

Nutrients in Couscous, 1 cup, cooked
Value
Calories
176
Carbohydrate
36.46 g
Total lipid (fat)
0.25 g
Protein
5.95 g
Vitamins
 
Vitamin A
0 IU
Vitamin B-6
0.08 mg
Vitamin C
0 mg
Vitamin D
0 mcg
Vitamin K
0.16 mcg
Thiamin
0.1 mg
Pantothenic acid
0.58 mg
Niacin
1.54 mg
Minerals
 
Calcium, Ca
12.56 mg
Fluoride, F
0 mcg
Magnesium, Mg
12.56 mg
Phosphorus, P
34.54 mg
Zinc, Zn
0.41 mg
Sodium, Na
7.85 mg

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 1 comment

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Very interesting indeed. Voted up and thanks for sharing.

Eddy.

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