What are the benefits of couscous vs. rice

Rice is largely grown and consumed around the world, making it the most popular wheat globally. For people living in Asia, rice provides 35 to 80 percent of the calorie intake, according to the University of Duke. Couscous on the other side originates in North Africa and plays a central role in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is also common in Mediterranean cuisine and continues to gain popularity around the world. 

You can use rice and couscous interchangeably in many recipes, but there are important differences between these wheat-based products.

  • Definition of rice vs. couscous

When you eat rice, you are eating a kernel harvested directly from the plant. Couscous, on the other hand, is made from wheat; it is not rice at all, as much as a type of pasta. Rice cultivation dates back to at least 2500 BCE, while couscous has been around for only a thousand years.

  • Types of rice and couscous

Rice comes in dozens of different varieties and colors. Examples include long grain, short grain, sweet, basmati, jasmine, Sushi, and Himalayan rice. Couscous comes in three main varieties: white, whole meal, and Israeli. White couscous is the softest of the three. Whole meal couscous is similar in size to white couscous, but has a richer flavor and texture. Israeli couscous is larger, rounder and more pasta-like.

  • Nutritional values of rice vs couscous

For optimal nutrition content, choose whole grain varieties of rice and couscous. Whole grains contain germ and bran, parts that have been removed to make the grains softer, in white rice. Brown rice contains more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B, Iron and zinc, while whole couscous provides significant amounts of iron, zinc and fiber. 

White rice serves as a superior source of manganese, compared to couscous. Each 1-cup serving of cooked white rice boasts 0.75 mg of manganese, while one cup of cooked couscous provides 0.13 mg of manganese. 

Couscous offers a lot more selenium per serving than white rice. Your body uses selenium to make an amino acid, or selenocysteine, which gets incorporated into the proteins of your cells. Selenium supports male reproductive health by helping in sperm production, and regulates metabolism by controlling the activity of thyroid hormones. Couscous serves as an excellent source of selenium, offering 43 micrograms, or 78 percent of the recommended daily allowance, per 1 cup serving. White rice contains significantly less selenium per cup – 12 micrograms or 22 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Both couscous and rice, whole grain or not, provide carbohydrates, which provide necessary fuel for physical activity.

  • Uses

In general, choose rice if you want a firmer consistency; couscous if instead you want a softer grain that will readily absorb juices and sauces. Both work well for pilaf, hot breakfast cereal, and casseroles. Couscous goes exceptionally well with soup. Place the cooked couscous in the bottom of the bowl and pour the hot soup over it. The two almost melt together in a dish. 

Why you should eat rice and couscous

Both rice and couscous are an integral part of a healthy diet. However, couscous is more versatile and also easy to prepare. Couscous takes less time to cook and can be used in desserts, snacks, breakfasts, dinners and lunches. It lasts long a time in your pantry and is always on hand for a quick meal with veggies, meat or fish.

Couscous is packed with nutrients and has better selenium per serving than white rice when it comes to selenium and other elements. It is light and filling, making it a good choice for busy professionals, families and people who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen to prepare a healthy, delicious meal.

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