What are the benefits of Couscous vs. Pasta
Not many people know that although pasta and couscous are processed differently, their nutritional properties are very similar as they’re both made of wheat. But which one is better and how to choose?
Couscous is a food that consists of ground durum wheat semolina, soaked with water, then sieved and processed by hand until the typical micro granules are obtained.
It is a traditional product from Maghreb, African and even Sicilian cuisine, in particular from some municipalities in the province of Trapani, Italy. In this area, couscous arrived at the time of Arab domination and has remained over the centuries one of the reference ingredients of typical home cooking. Furthermore, it is also the protagonist of a heartfelt and renowned local festival in San Vito lo Capo.
How is Couscous Produced
Durum wheat, more or less coarsely ground, depending on the area, is sprayed with fresh water and worked by hand with circular movements on the work surface.
Another small amount of semolina is added to the first balls that are formed, which serves to dry the surface and to allow sieving. This step is used to eliminate the couscous granules that are too small and to prepare a homogeneous couscous, which favors uniform cooking of the recipes.
However, the processing of artisanal couscous is giving way to mechanized preparation and this food has also become common in large-scale distribution supermarkets.
Let’s see what its nutritional characteristics are and how to serve it:
Calories and nutritional values of couscous
Couscous is a simple food consisting of only two ingredients: durum wheat and water, which are the same substances as classic pasta’s. In practice, it is basically a differently shaped pasta!
This food, in terms of nutritional values, is therefore predominantly a carbohydrate source (approximately 78% of it) low in fat (only 0.65%) and 12.7% of proteins. The quantity of dietary fiber is also important: an 80 g portion of couscous provides 4 g of fiber, or 16% of the daily requirement of this nutrient.
Couscous is also a good source of mineral salts, especially phosphorus and copper: a portion of 80 g provides 17% and 16% of the daily requirement respectively. The magnesium content is also significant, as much as 11% of the recommended daily amount.
Let’s look at the nutritional label of couscous:
Nutritional Values of Couscous (100 g)
- Energy 376 kcal
- Carbohydrates 77 g
- Fat 0.6 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Protein 12 g
- Dietary fiber 5 g
The caloric intake of an 80 g portion of couscous is essentially the same as that of a portion of pasta: about 300 kcal.
Rich in fiber and carbohydrates, it is one of the main foods of the Mediterranean diet for many reasons. If consumed in the right quantities and without exceeding with condiments, is not an enemy of the diet.
Calories and nutritional values of pasta
Pasta, one of the most important foods of the Mediterranean diet, is also a good concentrate of energy and essential nutrients for our body.
One hundred grams of pasta are able to provide an energy intake of about 360 kilocalories, of which at least 70% in the form of complex carbohydrates, a real fuel especially in the nutrition of those who practice sports. The protein share is instead equal to about 13%, while the fat content is definitely negligible. In combination with foods such as fish, meat, cheese or vegetables, pasta is therefore ideal for the preparation of numerous dishes that provide a good supply of both energy and nutrition. Among the main nutrients contained in pasta there are fibers and water. The few fats present are mainly monounsaturated, while cholesterol is completely absent.
Why is couscous an anti-stress food
Couscous is also rich in potassium and contains good quantities of B vitamins, especially B1. This vitamin is essential for the correct functioning of the nervous system with an anti-stress function. B3 is necessary for cellular respiration. Vitamin B3 also helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins and promotes blood circulation and skin health. Couscous is a dish of high nutritional value and easily digestible.
With different types of gluten-free varieties, couscous is now suitable for celiac. It is light and filling, making couscous a good alternative to pasta. Easy to cook, digestible and packed with nutrients – couscous is a versatile product that works equally well with veggies, meat, fish or in desserts.