Last updated: September 4, 2020

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Bulgur is a food that has been around for ages, from the Turkish: bulgur; also burghul, to Arabic: “groats”, it is a cereal food that is widely used in North Africa and the Middle East. However, despite it being predominantly used in traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, thanks to globalization and emigration, in recent years, its use has become more popular in North America. The great versatility of this food it’s one of it’s best assets.

It can be found in anything from stews to salads and even as a base for porridge and desserts. When considering its nutritional values, it is easy to see why it has gained popularity in markets around the world. For instance, among its many noteworthy aspects, we can find an almost non-existent fat content and a high concentration of fiber, which is a key element in feeling full for longer and weight management.

Key Facts

  • Bulgur offers countless health benefits, it plays a role in the prevention of hypertension, while also supplying antioxidants, proteins, iron and large doses of fiber.
  • Because of its high fiber content, which promotes satiety, bulgur is great for those trying to manage their weight. It is also great for athletes who need to high caloric food, and for all of those who want to manage their cholesterol levels since it has an almost non-existent fat content.
  • Bulgur can be used in all sorts of meals and recipes. It originated in the Middle East, and to this day Arab countries use it in salads, soups or to accompany any other type of dish. Due to its great nutritional profile, its consumption spread to Europe, Africa, and North America, where it has become one of the healthiest foods.

Our Selection: The Best Bulgur Products on the U.S. Market

In this section, we want to show you the best bulgur products currently available in North America. We have included a brief description of the noteworthy aspects of each product, hoping that it will allow you to discover which one is right for you. In this section, you’ll be able to choose the type of bulgur that best suits your needs.

Best Red Bulgur

Bob’s Red Mill Red Bulgur is a special ingredient that adds nutrition to your meals by providing a balance of protein, fat, and fiber. It is a whole grain that traditionally appears in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes and can be added to bread, muffins, meatloaf, as a base for salads, and more.

It serves as a great substitute for rice, potatoes, and pasta and is ready to eat in under 15 minutes!

Best Coarse Bulgur

This bulgur product is made of 100% natural durum wheat and contains no artificial colors or preservatives. Duru bulgur has a delicious, natural flavor because they use high-quality wheat and their traditional stone milling process.

This product is rich in fiber and it has a low glycemic index. It contains 5g of protein per ½ cup serving, and this 2.2lb bag contains about 22 servings.

Best Fine Bulgur

Reis Fine Bulgur is an all-natural product that serves as a good substitute for rice, potatoes, and pasta and it can be ready in just over 10 minutes. It is a very valuable and nutritious semi-finished foodstuff that is only composed of water and wheat.

The core bran of this wheat contains minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and chrome; diet sediment, some phenols, phytates, and selenium as well as all B vitamins except B12.

Best Medium Bulgur

Whole Foods Market brings 365 Everyday Value goods to the public. This brand offers exceptional everyday values that meet all of Whole Foods Market’s quality standards. This brand of bulgur wheat is USDA organic, which means the product has been produced through approved methods.

Keep in mind that bulgur has a lower glycemic index than rice, making it a great replacement, especially for a diabetic person.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Bulgur

Bulgur has been around for centuries, and it is the star of many dishes in European, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. In this next section, we include all of the most relevant facts and information regarding this amazing food. It is our hope that all this knowledge will help you easily incorporate this superfood into your diet.

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Bulgur is not recommended for coeliacs because it is mostly made of gluten.
(Source: Katarzyna Białasiewicz: 97699647/123rf.com)

What is bulgur exactly?

Bulgur is an edible cereal grain made from parboiled, cracked wheat. It is made from whole wheat kernels that have been soaked, baked and dried to speed up cooking time. Once prepared, it’s texture resembles couscous or quinoa. However, according to food experts, bulgur has a nicer, less-bitter taste.

What is wheat?

Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. There are many types of wheat, and they are all made up of three sections: the core, the bran, and the endosperm. Most of the nutritional components of wheat are found in the core and bran.

These are the parts that contain minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and chromium. In addition, this is the area where some phenols, phytates, and selenium are present. Lastly, the endosperm is the section of wheat that gives caloric energy.

Why is bulgur considered very healthy?

It is important to know that wheat products contain a plethora of micronutrients in their core and bran. These nutrients are often separated when the product is processed, leaving only the endosperm or the section that produces energy. In contrast, bulgur is kept as a whole grain, meaning it will have a higher vitamin, protein and mineral content.

Tara Parker-PopeNutrition writer for The New York Times

“Bulgur wheat provides various nutrients and is an especially good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, and fiber – which helps prevent constipation. One cup of bulgur provides 8 grams of fiber (complex carbohydrates that are slowly absorbed) and 12% protein. Most notably, it doesn’t actually contain considerable amounts of fat.”

How is bulgur produced?

Traditionally, bulgur is produced by partially boiling whole-wheat groats until they crack, then they are dried in the sun and ground into various sizes in a stone mill. Industrially produced bulgur is parboiled, oven-dried, ground and sifted mechanically to precise grades.

What are the health benefits of consuming bulgur?

  • Provides a large amount of starch. Thus, it is a source of good quality complex carbohydrates, which keep the body energized throughout the entire day.
  • Presents a large concentrations of fiber. This helps the absorption of nutrients and digestion.
  • Aids in weight management. High fiber content aids in curbing appetite by making you feel full for longer.
  • Helps slow down the sugar circulation in the bloodstream. This results in a slow increase in blood glucose, even slower than wholemeal bread and rye.
  • Provides antioxidants. Which help improve and boost the immune system. Antioxidants also prevent oxidative stress which causes cell aging.
  • Has a large amount of potassium. Which is a vasodilator that can reduce tension in blood vessels and arteries, lowering blood pressure.
  • Contributes to iron levels in the body. Iron deficiencies cause anemia, weakness, disorientation, fatigue and stomach disorders. A standard portion of bulgur wheat has approximately 15% of the daily requirements of this mineral.
  • Helps to provide proteins. This is due to the fact that it contains several essential amino acids, which the body needs for the development and growth of new tissues, cells and blood vessels.

Who should avoid or limit their bulgur consumption?

Because it is composed mainly of wheat, coeliacs should steer clear of it. Furthermore and for the same reason, diabetics should limit their consumption of this food. Lastly, those with chronic disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease or IBS, should also be cautious as their bodies may not tolerate bulgur due to its high content of insoluble fiber.

If you’re not sure if you have these conditions, start with consuming a small amount to see how your body responds to it. Similarly, if you experience any acute gastrointestinal symptoms due to infection or illness, it is best to wait until these symptoms subside before introducing fiber-rich foods such as bulgur, which may aggravate the discomfort.

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Certain people, such as those with allergies to wheat products, should not consume bulgur.
(Source: Yelenayemchuk: 57369862/ 123rf.com)

Who would benefit from consuming bulgur?

Because bulgur is a fiber-rich and low-fat whole grain, it may have a positive impact on heart health, weight loss, blood sugar, and digestive health. Specifically, athletes, people still growing or the convalescent is the ones that would benefit the most from consuming this food.

Wheat intolerant people, who are not necessarily coeliac, may opt for a different variety of bulgur that is made from spelt. What is spelt? Another ancient wheat variety, which is better tolerated by the body, and it also has many nutrients and great taste.

John StaughtonIntegrative Biology Specialist at the University of Illinois, USA

“The impressive levels of magnesium found in bulgur make it an excellent sleep aid, this is due to the effects magnesium can have in the production of relaxing neurotransmitters.

Another group that should start paying attention to bulgur are people with cardiovascular problems, as this food keeps hypertension and cholesterol levels under control. And finally, given its high protein content, this food will be essential for those recovering from injury.

How to cook bulgur?

Bulgur wheat is very simple to prepare. It is available in fine, medium or coarse varieties and takes 3–20 minutes to cook, depending on the type you choose. The coarser the grain, the longer the cooking time. It is cooked similarly to rice or couscous, meaning boiling water is used to soften the grain. The measurement is typically one part bulgur, two parts water.

Where can I buy bulgur?

While finding all of its varieties is not simple in most supermarket chains, in North America you actually find some options in Mediterranean food stores, health food stores, and of course, all the e-commerce options, such as Amazon.

Nutrients Values (around 100 grams of bulgur)
Calories 342
Proteins 12.29
Fat 1.33
Fiber 12.5
Carbohydrate 75.87
Calcium 35
Iron 2.46
Magnesium 164
Phosphorus 300
Potassium 410
Zinc 1.93
Sodium 17
Vitamin B-6 0.34
Vitamin E 0.06
Cholesterol 0
Fatty acids 0.94

What recipes can I cook with bulgur?

  • Tabouli salad: Place the bulgur in a small bowl. Add boiling water, mix and cover with a cloth. Let it sit for one hour and then remove excess water. Combine bulgur with chopped parsley, five diced tomatoes, one chopped onion, fresh lemon juice, two tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bulgur bread: In a small bowl, dissolve two tablespoons of yeast and one teaspoon of sugar in 100 ml of warm water. In a large bowl, mix 800 ml warm water, four tablespoons honey and four tablespoons of molasses, 125 ml vegetable oil, two eggs, and lemon juice. Mix well. Add yeast mixture and stir.Gradually add 800 g of wholemeal flour, stirring well. Add the 30 g of flax, bulgur and sunflower seeds and mix well. Let it sit for 20 minutes until the dough is very light. Add the four teaspoons of salt and the rest of the flour (625 g) until the dough separates from the bowl.Knead for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. Place in a greased container, cover and let it grow for about an hour until it doubles. Then form 6 round balls and let them stand for another 20 minutes. Lastly, bake them at 190 degrees C between 25 and 35 minutes.
  • Bulgur burgers: Boil 150 g of bulgur in water with a tablespoon of soy sauce. Remove from heat, cover and let it sit for 10 minutes. In a food processor combine 175 g cashew nuts and 100 g sunflower seeds. Combine bulgur, cashew nuts, sunflower, two eggs, one teaspoon of chili, two cloves of chopped garlic and a pinch of hot sauce.Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to let the flavors mix. When you’re ready to serve, form hamburgers from the mixture and prepare them on the barbecue over medium heat. Allow them to cook for 10 minutes, flipping them until they are golden brown.

Purchase Criteria

By now you have learned about the wide range of health benefits the consumption of bulgur can offer us. In this section, we will present you with the main characteristics of this product. This information will enable you to make the best purchase decision, even if you choose to buy this product over the internet.

Weight

As you know by now, bulgur comes in different presentations. You can find bags or boxes, which vary between 500 grams and 1.5 pounds in weight. Some brands even offer bags that contain 3-6 pounds of bulgur. When in doubt, consult the seller specifications.

Flavor

It is always important to read the manufacturing labels of each product. In the case of bulgur, the taste remains authentic when processed in traditional millstones. Furthermore, the flavor is also preserved when the manufacturer uses state-of-the-art drying mechanisms.

Price

Although we tend to prioritize quality over price, it’s important that that different from the competition is really worth it. There is no point in buying a low-quality product just for the sake of saving a few bucks. Looking at consumer reviews is a good way to evaluate if the price is indeed a good offer.

Variety

There are different types of bulgur. The most general classification is divided between whole grains and pre-cooked grains. The latter may be coarse, medium or fine wheat. Due to its versatility, fine bulgur is the most used in North America today. You can also get them in red or yellow grains.

Coarse grains are used to make meals with thicker consistencies, the medium grain is consumed just as it is or to accompany a good breakfast porridge. Lastly, fine bulgur is often used to prepare salads, such as the famous tabouli, or as a complement to a soup or stew.

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Bulgur cooks very quickly and is very versatile.
(Source: Oleksii Terpugov : 76303320/ 123rf.com)

Quality

The best way to tell a high-quality bulgur product from a bad one is to carefully read the manufacturing labels. Make sure that no additives or colorants were used during its production. Keep in mind that when the brand clarifies that it is not necessary to wash the bulgur, it is because it was washed before being packaged.

Summary

By now, you’re well aware of the countless benefits of consuming bulgur are. Throughout this article, we established that Routine consumption of fiber-rich whole grains, such as bulgur, is associated with multiple health benefits, including disease prevention and improved digestion. Aside from the presence of wheat (which is hard to process for coeliacs), there are practically no contraindications to consuming this cereal.

In North America, this product is available through Amazon in different presentations and with a wide variety of prices that are sure to suit any budget. Just remember that it is of utmost importance to check the manufacturing labels to ensure you are getting exactly what you want. If you’re unsure about any specifications, it is always good to message the seller to clear any doubt.

Do you have experience using bulgur? Don’t hesitate to comment below! We’ll be happy to read about your thoughts. Lastly and if you liked the article, help us by sharing it on your social networks.

(Featured Image Source: Diana Taliun: 77109909/ 123rf.com)

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