Benefits And Harms Of Consuming Couscous

More and more often in stores, you can find an interesting cereal called couscous. In fact, couscous can be called a cereal only conditionally, since it is not just a polished cereal, but in fact a semi-finished product. But what useful properties it has and whether there are any contraindications to its use, we will learn from the article below.

All about couscous

Couscous looks like cereal, and in stores, small bags of light yellow balls are found on the shelves with cereals.

In terms of technology, couscous is closer to pasta. Just like pasta, couscous is made from only two ingredients – durum wheat and water – but it requires coarsely ground wheat rather than flour.

Couscous is a traditional cereal popular among North African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cultures. Once upon a time, the grains were rolled by hand, and only women did it. Now, thanks to automated production, the creation of this Mediterranean delicacy has become easier. A “machine-made product” has appeared on the market, which is no worse than natural cereals in terms of their useful composition and nutritional properties.

To make couscous, ground wheat grains are moistened, rolled into small balls, and dried.

Historians claim that couscous appeared in the XIII century, and although there are other versions, in any case, it has passed the test of time more than enough. To this day, couscous remains a favorite and daily food of North Africans. Wherever it is common, neither a poor man’s dinner nor a rich wedding is unthinkable without it.

Couscous is a lean product; this cereal contains only grain and water. Sometimes couscous is made not only from wheat but also from other cereals. But the right, traditional couscous – made from durum wheat – will not harm your figure, unless, of course, you eat it in abnormal quantities.

Dishes made from commercially produced couscous are prepared very quickly: pour boiling water over the couscous, stew meat or vegetables in a pan, mix or put them on top of the couscous, and you’re done.

However, in the Maghreb countries, couscous is usually steamed in a special steamer. It is a two-tiered clay or metal structure called a borma. The lower part of this Borma is called Tangier. Water is poured into it, olive oil is added, vegetables are put in and broth is boiled. The upper part of the Borma is called keskes or kiskas in Arabic. A keskes is a pan with a mesh bottom. Couscous is placed in the keskes, which are steamed from the broth.

In addition to meat and vegetables, seafood and fish are put in couscous.

They also make sweet couscous with nuts, dried fruits, and honey.

Chemical composition and calorie content of couscous

Couscous consists almost entirely of complex carbohydrates, the main source of energy in our body.
Therefore, its calorie content is hardly low (376 kcal/100 g). This exotic delicacy is also full of other nutrients that our body needs. Nutritional value: proteins – 3.8 g; fats – 0.2 g; carbohydrates – 23.2 g; fiber – 1.4.

Couscous provides the body with a large number of vitamins – B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, E, PP, and Choline. These substances have a positive effect on digestion and the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. Thanks to this, metabolism improves and weight loss occurs.

Couscous contains the following minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, and Selenium.

During the processing of grains to create cereals, some nutrients are lost, but since couscous is made from whole grains, it retains most of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Useful properties of couscous

This cereal, as mentioned above, is made from various grains, but the most commonly sold couscous is made from wheat. We will talk about the beneficial properties of this type of cereal.

Couscous is rich in vitamin B5, which has a positive effect on vitality, strengthens the immune system, fights chronic fatigue and depression, and even treats insomnia. In addition, B5 improves skin and hair regeneration.

This “cereal” is useful for active and energetic people, as well as for those who regularly engage in mental activity. It is recommended to give porridge to children and adults during respiratory diseases.

A large amount of important trace elements contributes to the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. When consuming couscous, water-salt metabolism is stabilized. This cereal also stimulates brain activity. And thanks to the potassium in the couscous, the heart muscle is strengthened.

Couscous raises hemoglobin levels, and, on the contrary, lowers the level of “bad” cholesterol. Due to the high nutritional value and calorie content of couscous porridge, it is recommended for athletes, the elderly, and children.

Due to its high copper content, couscous prevents the development and occurrence of joint diseases and also promotes the production of female sex hormones, and prevents premature graying of hair and skin aging.

Harmful properties and contraindications of couscous
Diabetics and people with thyroid problems should be careful about the presence of couscous in their diet: it can provoke an exacerbation of the condition.

Individual intolerance to wheat and other cereals, and food allergies to this product are contraindications to eating couscous.

If a person is overweight, then the use of this cereal is allowed as part of a proper diet or nutrition.

Couscous for dieting

People on a diet are often looking for low-calorie and nutritious meals that can diversify their diet. Usually, all kinds of grains and cereals serve as a hearty and healthy source.
Couscous is useful for diets because it is perfectly satiating, drives away hunger for a long time and does not add extra pounds. In addition, the fiber in this cereal acts as a deterrent to reduce the secretion of ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger. Reducing the secretion of the hormone reduces the likelihood of overeating, which is the main problem for people trying to lose weight.

By consuming this cereal, you can achieve incredible results. Its calorie content will not harm your figure, and the presence of a wide range of nutrients will support the body in such a difficult process as a strict or therapeutic-recovery diet.

How to choose and store couscous

In stores, couscous is sold steamed and in packages. The former is good in the sense that it can be prepared very quickly, the latter because you can always see the ingredients on the packet of cereal. There should be two ingredients: cereal (cereal/flour) and water.

It is worth giving preference to couscous made from durum wheat, even better – couscous made from whole grain durum wheat (the latter, however, is more expensive).

Couscous absorbs moisture and odors well, so it should be sealed. Packaged couscous can be stored at room temperature for about a year.

So, the benefits of couscous are obvious, because it is a storehouse of vitamins and nutrients. Thanks to such products, it is much easier to lead a healthy lifestyle by eliminating harmful and high-calorie foods from the diet and replacing them with more useful analogues. So, diversify your menu and be healthy!

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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