Mediterranean Diet 101

Couscous Health Benefits

couscous-mCouscous is kind of food made of small granules of semolina or whole-wheat flour. Couscous may be used as a replacement for whole-wheat pasta or brown rice.

Exact content of couscous vary depending on the ingredients, but incorporating couscous in everyday nutrition can have certain health benefits ...

Couscous Nutrition Facts

Macro and micronutrients content of couscous are given in the following table:

Food Amount Protein Carbs Fats Fibers
Couscous 100g 13g 77 0.6 5 g
Calories: 52 kcal 308 kcal 5 kcal -

So, 100g of dry couscous has around 365 calories, mostly from carbs. These carbs are more or less complex carbohydrates, which are digested relatively slowly. This slow digestion provides constant flow of nutrients (carbs) into the blood stream and gives energy for longer period of time - similar to whole-wheat pasta or brown rice. Fat content is very low, so if you have any medical condition and want to avoid any unnecessary fats in your diet, you should consider couscous. Protein content is acceptable - around 13g of protein per 100g of couscous - not much when compared with fish, meat and similar foods, especially when compared with carbohydrates (around 1:6 ratio). Nonetheless, for vegans, couscous is important source of vegetable protein.

Also, couscous has very low sodium content (10mg of sodium per 100g of couscous), modest amount of magnesium (44mg per 100g), potassium (165mg per 100g), iron (1.1mg per 100g), phosphorous (170mg per 100g) and niacin (3.5mg per 100g).

Is Couscous Healthy?

Many people wanting to become and stay fit, ask if couscous is healthy for them - answer is 'maybe yes, maybe no' :)

What's the catch? Well, if you are ectomorph with metabolism constantly in high gear, then you need to provide your body with plenty of constant energy, unless you want your body to burn precious muscles. If you are mesomorph, with not so fast metabolism, then having couscous meal (with some lean protein source and some vegetables) will be very beneficial, especially on training days. Endomorphs - since you are on constant diet for life (or at least you should be on a such diet) having couscous regularly can boost your energy levels, but it can also 'help' your body stack some bodyfat. Anyway, endomorphs should have couscous as meal from time to time for breakfast and as last solid meal before workouts. Just be careful about amounts - be sure to fit all macronutrients into your diet plan.

As a cheat meal, everyone can and should have couscous as part of their diet.

 Couscous Health Benefits

As said before, couscous has many health benefits:

- it is good source of complex carbohydrates, in many ways comparable or even better than whole wheat pasta or brown rice

- it is rich in fiber - they provide feeling of fullness and they promote health of digestive system. Note that some types of whole wheat or whole grain pasta can have 2-3 times more fibers than couscous - before buying such products read labels and buy according to your needs.

- couscous protein is vegetable protein, but when couscous is combined in a dish with vegetables and some lean meat, one gets very balanced amino acid profile.

- couscous has glycemic index some 20-30% lower than whole grain pasta or brown rice, but this varies depending on the ingredients of couscous. Such couscous can be part of diabetic diets, just be very careful about amounts.

- couscous has better vitamins profile when compared with pasta - it contains around twice as much niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate and four times as much thiamine and pantothenic acid.

Long story short, incorporating couscous in your daily diet can be health beneficial, just be sure that you are within your daily macro and micronutrient plan.

Enjoy it! :o)

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