Hey! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.
If you suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance then figuring out what you can and can’t eat is tricky. As far as grains go, wheat, rye and barley are out of the question due to each containing high amounts of gluten. However, a balanced diet requires or at least benefits from the inclusion of grains such as those found in cereals. As such, you’ll likely be on the hunt for gluten-free grains and stumbled across something called bulgur. However, is bulgur actually gluten-free?
Table of Contents
- What is Bulgur?
- What Does “Gluten-free” Mean?
- What Is Bulgur Used For?
- Is Bulgur Gluten-free?
- Bulgur Nutritional Facts
- Final Thoughts
What is Bulgur?
Bulgur wheat is wheat that originates from and is a staple of many traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. This cereal grain is derived from a variety of wheat species that are dried and cracked, however, it is typically made from durum wheat.
Part of its popularity comes from it being parboiled which allows it to be prepared rather quickly. When cooked, bulgur wheat will resemble quinoa in appearance and texture whilst having a light and slightly nutty flavour.
As with whole-grain wheat, barley and rye, bulgur will keep the entire contents of the kernel rather than being refined. This includes the germ, bran and endosperm; as a result, bulgur is very highly nutritious.
What Does “Gluten-free” Mean?
The gluten-free diet is one that people with celiac disease must adhere to for their entire lives. This is because celiac disease causes the body’s natural immune system to react in a way that damages the gut when gluten is ingested. Symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, flatulence, unexpected weight loss, vomiting and constipation. However, signs of celiac disease are not limited to these symptoms.
In addition, however, non-celiac gluten sensitivity does also exist. In these cases, some of the symptoms of celiac disease may be experienced. However, with gluten sensitivities or a gluten allergy not related to celiac disease, there is not likely to be any gut damage.
As a result of these conditions, the gluten-free diet exists. This diet isn’t about losing weight, however. Instead, it focuses on avoiding food containing gluten whilst seeking out gluten-free alternatives. Some popular gluten-free grains for example include buckwheat and oats.
What Is Bulgur Used For?
Bulgur can serve as a replacement for rice, couscous or other similar grains in various dishes. Additionally, it is commonly used as a base for soup, breakfast porridges, chilli and stews. Commonly it is also served as part of salads and pilafs alongside vegetables, herbs, spices and other grains.
Is Bulgur Gluten-free?
Whilst bulgur is considered to be super healthy for most, for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, however, it very much is not. This is because bulgur, being derived from a variety of wheat species contains quite a lot of gluten, making it unsuitable for those with either a wheat or gluten allergy.
Bulgur Nutritional Facts
Bulgur is not suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten allergies. However, if you are able to tolerate gluten then bulgur can be a very healthy staple of your diet.
Below are some of the nutritional values of bulgur. Here, these values are measured as they would be in a one hundred gram serving.
- Calories: 83
- Carbs: 18.5 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fibre: 4.5 grams
- Folate: 4.5% of your recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B6: 8% of your recommended daily intake
- Niacin: 5% of your recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 30% of your recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 8% of your recommended daily intake
- Iron: 5.5% of your recommended daily intake
What are the different types of bulgur?
Bulgur grains can come in four different varieties. Which variety you choose will have different cooking requirements and be used slightly differently. These bulgur varieties are distinguished by their coarseness with finer grains taking less time to cook.
The four types of bulgur are:
- Fine Bulgur: Often this is used for salads along with dishes like tabbouleh.
- Medium Bulgur: Typically used in veggie burgers, porridge and cereal.
- Coarse Bulger: Used frequently for stuffing vegetables such as squash or in pilaf.
- Very Coarse Bulger: Often used in meatballs soups, stews and sometimes pilaf.
Is Bulgar Wheat The Same As Bulgur?
Bulgur and bulgar are the same things. Bulgar is simply an alternative way of spelling bulgur. Other names for bulgur include burghul and bourghul.
Is Bulgur Wheat A Carb or Protein?
Bulgar is considered a complex carbohydrate as it contains the whole wheat kernel. As a result of being less processed than other grains, it is rich in nutrients and vitamins.
What does bulgur wheat taste like?
Cooked bulgur resembles quinoa or couscous in appearance and texture whilst having a light and slightly nutty flavour.
Is Bulgur Healthier Than Rice?
Bulgur wheat is healthier than rice for most people due to being more nutritious than rice whilst also being lower in calories. However if looking for gluten-free grains or you’re on a gluten-free diet, then rice will be a better choice. This is because rice is in all forms is gluten-free. That said, brown rice tends to be healthier and more nutritious than white despite containing more calories.
What Is A Good Gluten-Free Substitute For Bulgur?
Many non-wheat-based grains can make excellent gluten-free substitutes for bulgur. Some examples include brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa and gluten-free oat bran.
What Grain is Similar to bulgur?
In terms of texture, rice, couscous and quinoa are quite similar to bulgur. Traditional wheat flour or almond flour however will probably be closer in terms of taste.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for gluten-free grain, bulgur is not going to be the one for you. However, there are plenty of gluten-free grain products available for you to choose from, along with a plentiful variety of naturally gluten-free grains such as rice or quinoa.
If however, you are fortunate enough to not require a gluten-free diet then bulgur is one of the best whole grains you can eat. This is because it is not only very healthy but also incredibly tasty and versatile.