Bulgur wheat, sometimes also called cracked wheat, is a lesser-known type of whole wheat durum grain. Compared to refined carbohydrate foods made with enriched or refined wheat, bulgur wheat is a much better source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Bulgur is low in fat, high in minerals like manganese, magnesium and iron, plus it’s a good source of plant-based protein. On top of this, bulgur wheat provides a very good dose of the dietary fiber you need for digestive and heart health — over 25 percent of your daily needs in every one-cup serving!
Epidemiological studies find that whole-grain intake can be protective against health conditions like cancer, heart disease, digestive disorders, diabetes and obesity, which suggests that bulgur wheat can be a part of a healing diet. In addition to vitamins and minerals, whole grains supply important plant-based phytonutrients that lower inflammation and prevent free radical damage. These include compounds such as phytoestrogens like lignans, plant stanols and plant sterols.
As a staple of Indian, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisines for centuries, bulgur wheat tends to be most well-known in the West as the main ingredient used in tabbouleh. But there are load of ways to use this fast-cooking, versatile grain: in soups, over salads and in whole grain bread, for example.
Bulgur Wheat Nutrition Facts
A one-cup serving of cooked bulgur wheat has about:
- 151 calories
- 8 grams of fiber
- 6 grams protein
- 0.5 grams fat
- 1 milligram manganese (55 percent)
- 58 milligrams magnesium (15 percent)
- 7 milligrams iron (10 percent)
- 8 milligrams niacin (9 percent)
- 0.2 milligrams vitamin B6 (8 percent)
One important thing to clarify about bulgur wheat is that it does contain gluten, as all wheat-containing foods do. Gluten — the protein found naturally in all wheat, rye and barley products — can cause digestive issues for many people, especially if they have a compromised digestive systemto begin with or poor gut health.
While bulgur wheat is definitely a step up from refined carbohydrates or sugary foods, it’s still best to have in moderation. And if you have a known allergy or gluten sensitivity, you should avoid bulgur wheat altogether and have gluten-free ancient whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat or brown rice instead.
Gluten-containing grains should also be avoided if you have leaky gut syndrome or candida since gluten can aggravate these conditions.