Bulgur, also known as broken wheat or ala, is an edible cereal grain, which is prepared from cracked and dried wheat – mostly durum wheat but also from the other wheat varieties. Bulgur wheat is quick to make since it is partially cooked. The consistency of bulgur is similar to quinoa or couscous. It is also considered as a whole grain, which means that full wheat seed is consumed, including endosperm, bran, and germ.
The origin of bulgur can be traced back to thousands of years, but knowingly, it is originated in the Mediterranean. Even now, it is the primary ingredient in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Bulgur provides an earthy and nutty flavor and a powerful nutrition punch. It is available in delicate, medium, and bristly grain, which makes it a nutritious addition to salad and soups.
Bulgur is rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, which makes it an ideal option for the vegetarian people or anyone who wants to include healthy whole grains in their diet. Bulgur is an extremely healthy way of more wheat intake since it is not processed. Like whole wheat, bulgur is packed with the same amount of nutrients and vitamins.
Benefits of Bulgur
Bulgur tastes delicious and is full of nutrients. As compared to the other refined wheat products, the bulgur has more nutritional value since its grain is minimally processed. Moreover, it contains a substantial amount of fiber, along with a variety of minerals and vitamins.
Bulgur is a rich source of iron, magnesium, and manganese. As compared to the other whole grains like quinoa or brown rice, bulgur is slightly lower in calories. Routine consumption of bulgur is linked with multiple health benefits, including improved digestion, heart health, and disease prevention.
- Heart Health Protector
Whole grains contain phenolic compounds, antioxidants, and trace minerals that are associated with the prevention of disease. High consumption of fiber is linked to the maintenance of cardiovascular health, healthier weight, and long life. Since the bulgur wheat is a fiber-rich source, it is very beneficial for heart health since it reduces inflammation and maintains optimal cholesterol levels.
An analysis of over 66 studies published in the Journal of Nutrition, on the consumption of whole-grain, found that higher consumption of high-fiber foods and whole-grain was correlated with a minimize risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain.
- Beneficial For Gut Health
According to a 2004 report in Nutrition Research Review, bulgur is an excellent source of resistant starch, gut-friendly dietary fiber, and oligosaccharides. The insoluble fibers found in bulgur, boost the movement of stool through the intestine and increases stool bulk.
According to the 2015 report in Advances in Nutrition, carbohydrates (resistant starch and oligosaccharides) found in bulgur act as prebiotics and resist digestion. It also promotes the growth of health-promoting bacteria in the gut.
- Aids Healthy Blood Sugar Control
Whole grains are linked to the reduced insulin levels and blood sugar response, as compared to refined grains. It has been proven with the studies that whole grains also enhance overall insulin sensitivity. Fibers are not the only component responsible for these effects. Whole grain contains other plant compounds as well that play a significant role.
Bulgur wheat contains both phytonutrients and fiber, which are responsible for the improved blood sugar control.
- Improves Digestion
Bulgur provides your daily required dose of fiber that is needed to balance regular bowel movement. Fiber expands in the gastrointestinal tract, by absorbing water and taking excess cholesterol particles and waste with it.
Several studies show that fiber-rich diets can result in fewer IBS-related symptoms or instances of constipation as well as healthier body weight and improved colon and gut health.
- Promotes Weight Loss
Numerous factors affect weight loss. The studies associate higher fiber consumption to a reduced tendency towards weight gain and a higher tendency to lose weight. However, it is still not clear how dietary fiber influence weight.
In the case of a few people, high fiber consumption leads to the feeling of fullness and lowers calorie intake, but it may also play a part in reducing the absorption of the total amount of energy from food. So bulgur, along with other fiber-rich foods, may promote healthy weight management.
- Boosts Immunity against Chronic Diseases
Since whole grain delivers crucial antioxidants, nutrients, and moderates glucose and insulin responses, they are associated with reducing the stress levels that lead to low immunity. Compared to sugar-laden and processed grain products, the lower glycemic impact of bulgur makes it beneficial for conditions like obesity, diabetes, and the hazards of developing cancer.
Following the research issued in the Journal of Nutrition, having a whole food rich-diet helps naturally fight cancer. Whole grains are beneficial, especially in lowering the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. Bulgur also enhances the health of essential organs like the heart, liver, colon, and gut.
Reduces the Risk of Diabetes
Intake of whole grain like bulgur is linked to the lower risk of type 2 diabetes. A 2016 issued meta-analysis reported that two to three servings of whole-grain daily lower the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes by 21 to 32 percent. Fiber-rich products are also linked with reduced risks of diabetes.
How to Prepare Bulgur Salad
Once you have cooked bulgur on hand, try this quick and easy bulgur salad:
- 1 cup cooked bulgur
- 1/4th cup chopped artichoke hearts
- 1/4th cup chopped, canned roasted red bell pepper
- 1/4th cup chopped red onion
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- Salt & pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together, chill, and serve.
Fact: Makes four 1/2 cup servings.
Opinion: Tastes even better on day 2.
Besides being delicious and quick to cook, bulgur is a rich source of essential vitamins, minerals (like iron, manganese, and magnesium), and plant-based protein. So, because of the presence of all these nutrients, adding it to your diet can be protective against several health issues like digestive disorders, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and cancer.