Rice vs Bulgur - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Bulgur is higher in fiber and protein in nutritional comparison to rice. In mineral content too, bulgur is undoubtedly the winner, particularly due to phosphorus and magnesium. Bulgur is also higher in vitamins, except for folic acid (vitamin B9), which 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 up to the consumer.
Table of contents
Bulgur is a yellow-colored product that is precooked, dried, slightly scoured, pounded, or grounded whole grain. It is known as the first food processed by man. Rice is a popular food for more than half of the world’s population.
Despite the constant development of the food industry, both of them are widely used in today’s competitive cuisine. They are recommended by older members of the family as well as 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 the comparative advantages and disadvantages of these grains.
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 and sodium and, to some extent, with lower prices. On the other hand, bulgur contains a huge amount of fiber and is also rich in protein and slow-releasing carbs.
What about vitamins? It is evident from the 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.
In terms of minerals, content bulgur wins hands down. According to the comparison charts, bulgur is extremely rich in magnesium and phosphorus, and to a lesser extent, in copper, potassium, iron, and zinc, whereas they are almost non-existent in rice.
It follows logically from what has been said that bulgur can be considered the “title-holder” in nutritional content comparison. That is why it is widely recommended by nutritionists and dieticians.
There are several reasons for the widespread use of bulgur and rice. We decided to emphasize some of them.
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 an appropriate food aid product due to its nutritional and functional properties (4). Despite the lower content of vitamins and minerals, rice is commonly used as a food aid product as well. These products are healthy and cheap.
Low in saturated fats and high in protein and fiber, bulgur can help satisfy hunger while preventing obesity, making it a favorite product of dieticians. On the other hand, rice sometimes is recognized as rich in carbohydrates and unhealthy. From this point, let us smoothly move to health impact.
Bulgur is higher in vitamins B1, B3, and B6, which contribute to the proper function of the nervous system and metabolism, provide us with essential energy. On the other hand, rice is rich in folate (vitamin B9), which is very important for prospective parents because it plays a significant role in the correct formation of germ cells. It decreases the level of homocysteine in the blood, high levels of which lead to damage of blood vessels and the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Besides, it is crucial for the development of the embryo’s brain, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Bulgur is rich in dietary fiber, which we need for a healthy digestive tract and cardiovascular system. It also improves blood sugar control.
Downsides and Risks
According to a study (1) published in 2017 that assesses an exposure-risk for potentially toxic elements (PTE) in rice and bulgur, a comparison of the determined concentrations to the available standard levels and the levels reported in the literature revealed that cadmium, cobalt, and lead 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 other research (2)(3) published in 2013, rice contains higher arsenic concentrations (160±38 ng/g) than bulgur, which results in risks of cancer and coronary heart disease.
Bulgur conversion is an ancient process that originated in 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 the 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 around the origins of rice (5). Some archaeologists claim that rice originated from South Central China, while others argue that according to evidence, rice owes its origin to India. Both theories could date rice 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, larva formation, and insect attacks. According to studies, bulgur remains fresh for up to six months at 370 C.
The shelf life of rice depends on different types. Most rice types have an indefinite shelf life, except for brown rice. Given that it is a whole natural grain, its higher oil content makes it easier to spoil than other types.
White rice, by contrast, can be kept almost for indeterminate periods due to its low moisture content.
Both of these grains should be stored in air-tight containers in a cool and dry place.
In terms of preparation time, bulgur again wins. As it is already partially cooked, it needs very little time for preparation. In some dishes, it does not need cooking at all. On the other hand, rice requires more time for cooking, although the exact time depends on the rice type.
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|