While we’ve seen some people in recent years start to shy away from eating anything that could be associated with gluten, there’s been a similar rise in people that want to get more wheat in their diet. One of the wheats that has become more popular in that time is bulgur, a whole grain that can be used in a lot of different ways. It’s always been popular in the middle east, but it’s seeing a surge in many other parts of the world.
Some are even replacing their typical use of white rice in favor of bulgur, as it has more nutrients and health benefits than the more common rice. Why, specifically, should you consider bulgur as your go-to side dish instead of other similar foods? Let’s have a look at the nutritional breakdown of bulgur, and explain some of those great health benefits that you get by adding more to your diet.
Nutrition of Bulgur
You can drastically reduce the calories in bulgur when it’s cooked, bringing it down to about 150 calories for each cup. That makes for a great source of protein with more than 10 percent of your daily recommendation, and a third of your daily dietary fiber needs. There aren’t too many vitamins that really stick out in bulgur as none are higher than 10 percent of your daily value, but you’ll be getting much needed boosts in thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and pantothenic acid.
Minerals make up a good part of each serving of bulgur, as you’ll get more than half of your daily need for manganese. There’s also more than 10 percent of iron and magnesium recommendations, while also providing significant sources for phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and calcium. There’s almost no fat or sugar found in bulgur, and no cholesterol at all, which is a nice bonus for people counting those numbers carefully.
The first thing that we pointed out in terms of nutritional value in bulgur is the high amount of dietary fiber that you get in each serving. Not many people are getting enough fiber in their diets, which leads to irregularity, constipation, diarrhea and many other health problems. Adding more fiber gets rid of these ailments, while also giving you more energy and a faster metabolism through a more efficient digestive system.
All of the organs in your body benefit from fiber, but the ones in the digestive system get the biggest boost that includes disease prevention. Getting enough fiber in your diet drastically reduces the chances of certain forms of cancer, especially colon cancer. While other forms of wheat have plenty of fiber, bulgur is one of the best sources out there to be found.
Good For the Heart
That same fiber that’s benefitting your digestive health is also one of the best things that you can do for your heart. With an ability to maintain a healthy weight and digestive system, you’re already doing your heart a favor. On top of that, bulgur is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent many different heart diseases while lowering your cholesterol.
Studies have shown that people who get enough fiber from foods such as bulgur were far less likely to become overweight or have higher cholesterol levels by a wide margin. You’re even adding some helpful potassium when you eat enough bulgur in your diet, which can make the blood vessels work more efficiently in your body, further preventing heart attacks and strokes down the road.
Whether you have 10 pounds or 100 pounds to lose, one thing that’s going to help you reach your goal weight is eating more natural foods. Bulgur certainly falls in this category, as you’ll avoid high calorie processed foods by eating more in your diet. Not only is the calorie count low in bulgur, but you’re getting a lot out of it, which is something that can’t be said for junk food.
On top of all of the great nutrients that you find in bulgur, fiber plays a big part in helping you to lose weight. With an improved digestive system, your body is more likely to burn extra calories throughout the day, even when not exercising. You’ll also feel more satisfied, allowing you to kick some of the cravings that typically happen when you’re on a weight loss plan. Bulgur is the ideal thing to eat either before or after working out, making getting to the gym a much easier task.
Making sure that your blood sugar is in check is incredibly important these days in a society that has a bunch of processed and sugar-filled foods, and your family’s history also plays a part. Eating more bulgur in your diet can contribute to a more controlled blood sugar level, as it’s very low on the glycemic index, so you won’t be prone to spikes and crashes in your blood sugar.
The carbohydrates that you’ll find in bulgur are complex ones, meaning that your body can efficiently release insulin and leave you feeling 100 percent almost all of the time. Research has found that bulgur is the best wheat in terms of blood sugar regulation as you won’t see a sudden rise in your glucose. People who eat refined grains are more prone to weight gain and diabetes, so you should be making the switch to bulgur as soon as possible.
Other chronic diseases outside of diabetes can also be prevented when you eat more bulgur in your diet. Thanks to the great nutrients and antioxidants found in bulgur, you’re cutting your chances of developing cancer. With a boost in your immune system, you’re also fighting off smaller illnesses that can be nagging as your body fights back against the free radicals that can cause cell damage and create cancer. As an added bonus, you’re also going to be less prone to wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Summing it Up
There really aren’t too many bad things that you can say about bulgur, unless you’re going for a gluten-free diet, of course. People that have celiac disease would find bulgur to be very problematic, but this won’t be the case for everyone. If you’re fine with eating gluten, but don’t get much fiber in your diet, your body may have to get used to the increased amount. This can cause some intestinal discomfort such as gas or cramping for a couple of days, but will fade as your body adjusts to a more efficient digestive system.
That’s really the only drawback that you’ll find, and it’s honestly something that means your body is improving. If you are still experiencing pain after a couple of days (or it becomes more severe), make sure to contact a doctor as you might actually be intolerant to glutens. For those that don’t experience discomfort, you’re on the right track in your diet by eating more bulgur on a consistent basis and getting the great health benefits that come along with bulgur!