Couscous (pronounced Koose-Koose) is considered a pasta which is made of small granules of semolina flour, and is traditional in North African cuisine. It is also available made from whole-wheat flour, which slightly increases the fiber and boosts nutritional value. It is a culinary ingredient used as a substitution for rice or quinoa, it is very versatile, and it’s preparation requires little more than the addition of hot water and fluffing with a fork, then served as a side dish or in recipes, taking on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. Ways to serve Couscous include adding it to soups, mixing it with sauteed vegetables, and as a breakfast cereal.
Nutritional Properties Of Couscous
The good news doesn’t stop there, as a 1 cup serving of couscous provides only 176 calories, or 8% of a standard 2,000 calorie diet. This would be far fewer calories than a cup of rice or quinoa, which provide 205 and 254 calories per cup. A 1 cup of couscous adds 6g of protein to your day, or 12% of the daily intake recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. Other grains typically provide a lower levels of this macro-nutrient, which is needed for muscle building after exercise, and sustaining energy. A perfect fit for today’s health–conscious eaters. Carbohydrates make up the majority of the calories in whole-wheat couscous, totaling 38g per 1 cup serving. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 130g of carbohydrates per day for optimal energy levels. Whole-grain couscous contains more fat than white flour couscous, but the totals are still quite small. A 1-cup serving of the whole wheat variety contains only 1g.
Health Benefits Of Couscous
Including couscous in your diet provides several health benefits. A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 43 mcg of selenium, or 61% of the 70 mcg daily value. This is a trace mineral that the body needs in small quantities, acting as an antioxidant and protecting healthy cells from the mutating effects of toxins that change the DNA and structural composition, leading to disease and premature aging. The potassium in couscous provides important functions, such as regulating blood pressure and the heartbeat. Potassium helps control fluid balance, an important factor in blood pressure regulation. It also assists with muscle contractions, and because the heart is a muscle, it requires potassium to prevent arrythmias, or irregularities of the heartbeat. A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 91mg of potassium, or 39% of the 3,500 mg the FDA recommends to get daily.