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Bulgur vs Rice - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Bulgur
vs
Rice

Introduction

Bulgur is whole wheat, yellow-colored product which is precooked, dried, slightly scoured, pounded or grounded. It is known as the first food processed by man. Rice is the main food for about more than half of world’s population. Despite the constant development of food industry, both of them are widely used in today’s competitive cuisine. They are recommended by elder members of family as well as by nutritionists.

Which features contribute to their significant and increasing usage? In an effort to find out the answer we gained insight into scientific aspects and revealed comparative advantages and disadvantages of them.

Nutritional Content Comparison

From the very start it is necessary to point out that although bulgur is a precooked product, it preserves all nutritional components due to its specific processing. And, since we consume bulgur and rice cooked, all the comparative information below is outlined according to this state. As indicated in the data set out below rice wins with lower sugars, sodium, in some extend with lower price. On the other, hand bulgur contains huge amount of fiber, also is rich in protein and slow-releasing carbs.

Vitamins comparison

What about vitamins? It is obvious from charts below that bulgur is richer in vitamins, especially in Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6. However, at the same time rice contains higher Folic acid (B9), which is largely absent in bulgur.

Minerals comparison

In terms of minerals content bulgur wins hands on. According to the charts of comparison bulgur is extremely rich in Magnesium and Phosphorus, and to a lesser extent, with Copper, Potassium, Iron and Zinc, whereas they almost non-existent in rice. It follows logically from what has been said that in nutritional content comparison bulgur can be considered the “title-holder”. That is why it is widely recommended by nutritionists and dieticians.

Consumption comparison

There are several reasons for widespread use of bulgur and rice. We decided to emphasize some of them. From among the many global problems, starvation remains a challenge despite the increasing development in a wide range of areas. That is why food aid plays an essential part in many emergency and developmental programs. Bulgur is a very appropriate product for food aid (4) due to its nutritional and functional properties. Despite the less content of vitamins and minerals, rice is commonly used as a food aid product as well. These products are healthier and cheaper.

Low in cholesterol and high in protein and fiber bulgur can help satisfy your hunger without adding pounds and prevents obesity, which makes it one of the preferable products of dieticians. On the other hand, rice sometimes is recognized as unhealthy, rich in carbohydrates. From this point let us smoothly move to health impact.

Health Impact

Bulgur is higher in Vitamins B1, B3 and B6, which contribute to right function of the nervous system, the metabolism, provide us with the essential energy. On the other hand rice is rich in Folic Acid (B9), which is very important for prospective parents, because it plays a great role in а right formation of germ cells. It decreases the level of homocysteine in the blood, high levels of which lead to damage of blood vessels and formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Besides, it is crucial for development of embryo’s brain, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. Bulgur is rich in fiber we need for healthy digestive tract, cardiovascular system, it improves blood sugar control.

According to the study (1) published in April 2017 that assesses an exposure-risk for potentially toxic elements (PTE) in rice and bulgur, comparison of the determined concentrations to the available standard levels and the levels reported in the literature revealed that Cadmium, Cobalt, and Plumbum in rice might be of concern. The results of this study showed that health risks associated with PTE exposure through bulgur consumption are lower than those of rice.

According to another study (2)(3) published in December 2013, rice contains more arsenic concentrations (160±38 ng/g) than bulgur, which result in risks of cancer and coronary heart disease.

Historical background

Bulgur conversion is an ancient process that originated in the Anatolia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It was a preferred dish of the armies of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. In approximately 2,800 B.C. , the Chinese emperor Shen Nung declared it one of five sacred crops along with rice, millet, barley and soybeans. Biblical references indicate that it was prepared by ancient Babylonians, Hittites and Hebrew populations some 4,000 years ago, and Arab, Israeli, Egyptian, and Roman civilizations record eating dried cooked wheat as early as 1,000 B.C.

What about the rice? There is a long debate (5) around the origins of rice. Some archaeologists claim that rice originated from South-central China, others argue that according to evidence rice owes its origin to India, both of them could be dated back to approximately 5000 B.C. Today Chinese specifically dedicate one of the days of New Year festivals to rice.

Storing and preparation time

Due to specific processing technology and cooking operations bulgur is resistant to mold contamination, to formation of larva and insect attacks. According to studies bulgur remains very acceptable up to six months at 370 C. Shelf life of rice depends on different types. Most of rice types have an indefinite shelf life, except for brown rice. Given that it is a whole natural grain, its higher oil content spoils it easily than other types.

White rice, by contrast, can be kept almost for indeterminate periods due to its low moisture content. Both of them should be stored in air-tithed containers in a cool and dry place. In terms of preparation time, bulgur again wins. As it is already partially cooked it needs a very little time for preparation, even though in some dishes it does not need cooking at all. On the other hand, although rice requires more time for cooking, the exact time depends on rice type

SUMMARY

Thus, to sum up, bulgur is higher in fiber and protein in nutritional comparison than rice. In mineral content bulgur is undoubtedly the winner too, particularly due to Phosphorus and Magnesium. Bulgur is also higher in vitamins, except for the Folic acid (B9), that is higher in rice. Both of them are widely used in Food Aid programs because of their nutrients, affordability and shelf time. On the other hand, some elements, revealed especially in rice, can lead to serious diseases, such as cancer and heart pathologies. The final choice is yours.

References
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28397064
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30665120
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24296133
4. https://www.aaccnet.org/publications/plexus/cfw/pastissues/2007/Documents/CFW-52-5-0249.pdf
5. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/rice/history-rice/debating-origins-rice

Infographic

Bulgur vs Rice infographic

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Bulgur
7
:
1
Rice
Contains more Iron +105%
Contains more Calcium +250%
Contains more Potassium +1071.4%
Contains more Magnesium +1266.7%
Contains more Copper +385.5%
Contains more Zinc +293.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +597.7%
Contains less Sodium -94.1%
Contains more Iron +105%
Contains more Calcium +250%
Contains more Potassium +1071.4%
Contains more Magnesium +1266.7%
Contains more Copper +385.5%
Contains more Zinc +293.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +597.7%
Contains less Sodium -94.1%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Bulgur
8
:
1
Rice
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +50%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +42.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +784.6%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +246.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +167.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +267.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Folic acid (B9) +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +50%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +42.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +784.6%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +246.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +167.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +267.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Folic acid (B9) +∞%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
20
Bulgur
10
Rice
Mineral Summary Score
49
Bulgur
9
Rice

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Protein
74%
Bulgur
16%
Rice
Carbohydrates
76%
Bulgur
28%
Rice
Fats
6%
Bulgur
1%
Rice

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Bulgur Rice
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sugars?
Rice
Rice contains less Sugars (difference - 0.36g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Rice
Rice contains less Sodium (difference - 16mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Rice
Rice is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.155g)
Which food is cheaper?
Rice
Rice is cheaper (difference - $1)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Bulgur
Bulgur is lower in glycemic index (difference - 12)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Bulgur
Bulgur is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Bulgur
Bulgur is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Bulgur Rice
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

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All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Bulgur Rice Opinion
Calories 342 130 Bulgur
Protein 12.29 2.69 Bulgur
Fats 1.33 0.28 Bulgur
Vitamin C 0 0
Carbs 75.87 28.17 Bulgur
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 2.46 1.2 Bulgur
Calcium 35 10 Bulgur
Potassium 410 35 Bulgur
Magnesium 164 12 Bulgur
Sugars 0.41 0.05 Bulgur
Fiber 12.5 0.4 Bulgur
Copper 0.335 0.069 Bulgur
Zinc 1.93 0.49 Bulgur
Starch
Phosphorus 300 43 Bulgur
Sodium 17 1 Rice
Vitamin A 9 0 Bulgur
Vitamin E 0.06 0.04 Bulgur
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.232 0.163 Bulgur
Vitamin B2 0.115 0.013 Bulgur
Vitamin B3 5.114 1.476 Bulgur
Vitamin B5 1.045 0.39 Bulgur
Vitamin B6 0.342 0.093 Bulgur
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 1.9 0 Bulgur
Folic acid (B9) 0 55 Rice
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 0.232 0.077 Rice
Monounsaturated Fat 0.173 0.088 Bulgur
Polyunsaturated fat 0.541 0.076 Bulgur
Tryptophan 0.19 0.031 Bulgur
Threonine 0.354 0.096 Bulgur
Isoleucine 0.455 0.116 Bulgur
Leucine 0.83 0.222 Bulgur
Lysine 0.339 0.097 Bulgur
Methionine 0.19 0.063 Bulgur
Phenylalanine 0.58 0.144 Bulgur
Valine 0.554 0.164 Bulgur
Histidine 0.285 0.063 Bulgur
The main source of information is USDA Food Composition Database (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Dietary Guidelines for Americans is used as the primary source for advice in this web resource
Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.