Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FUEL Better: Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur is a quick-cooking form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried, ground into particles and sifted into distinct sizes. The result is a nutritious, versatile wheat product with a pleasant, nut-like flavor and an extended shelf-life that allows it to be stored for long periods.
Often confused with cracked wheat, bulgur differs in that it has been pre-cooked. In contrast to cracked wheat, bulgur is ready to eat with minimal cooking or, after soaking in water or broth, can be mixed with other ingredients without further cooking. Bulgur can be used in recipes calling for converted rice (and it's more nutritious than rice).
The many spellings of bulgur can be confusing too: bulgar, bulghur, burghul, just to name a few! But no matter how you spell it, it is still the same nutritious natural food.
Bulgur Wheat is a natural whole grain food in that no chemicals or additives are used in processing the product. Many of the wheat's naturally occurring vitamins and minerals permeate the kernel during cooking thus maintaining more nutritive content than other forms of processed wheat products.
High in fiber and carbohydrate and low in fat, bulgur is listed as a suggested daily food item on the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid published in 1994 by Oldways Preservation Trust, the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization.
The health benefits of bulgur wheat include:
Preventing constipation
Preventing cancer
Reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease
Bulgur contains a compound called ferulic acid which can prevent nitrates and nitrites, common in many foods, from converting into nitrosamines. Nitrosamines have been linked to cancer. Bulgur wheat is the perfect addition to any meal that is high in nitrates like hot dogs or almost any processed food.
Bulgur wheat also contains lignans that are considered cancer warriors due to their high antioxidant properties. These super healthy lignans that are found in bulgur wheat also prevent cholesterol from being damaged by free radicals which makes it easier to stick to the artery walls. Less cholesterol on the artery walls means less chance of developing heart disease.
Bulgur wheat in your diet also adds more fiber that not only provides even more prevention of heart disease, diabetes and cancer but the insoluble fiber it contains helps eliminate wastes from the body faster making it helpful in preventing and treating constipation, diverticular disease, hemorrhoids and intestinal polyps.
Yet another health benefit of bulgur wheat is that it has one of the highest mineral contents of any food. It is rich in iron, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium and magnesium.


Bulgur holds a place in recipes similar to rice or cous cous but with a higher nutritional value. Best known as an ingredient in tabouli salad, bulgur is also a tasty, low-fat ingredient in pilaf, soup, bakery goods, stuffing or casseroles. It is an ideal food in a vegetarian diet because of its nutritional value and versatility. It is excellent as a meat extender or meat substitute in vegetarian dishes, and is a component of many varieties of meatless burgers found on supermarket shelves everywhere.

There are differences in commercial bulgur wheat production in the United States. Premium traditional bulgur wheat, such as Sunnyland Mills' brand, is made from special varieties of white wheat that impart a pleasing, sweet flavor to the end product. It is distinguished by its golden-yellowish to light brown color, more even particle size and softer texture.

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