Couscous is a simple dish with amazing health properties. Recently, it became very popular amongst other healthy products and groceries. It is easy to prepare and easy to combine with other viands. Couscous is rich in essential elements and considered as a very nutritional and healthy food. Many people are often mistaken when they consider couscous a cereal. It appears similar to cereals, because it looks like milled grains or so. In fact, couscous is a type of pasta. Its grains are small and sturdy.
This specific type of pasta originates from Northern Africa. It is a traditional dish in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. It can also be commonly found in Egypt and Israel and all over Middle East. However, couscous gets more and more incorporated in Western cuisine and it can be found in food stores all over Europe.
Well prepared couscous should be loose, flexible and delicate flavored. It goes well with variety of different spices. Because of its soft structure and gentle flavor, it can be served both as a treat and as a staple food. Couscous is nutritional tasteful food both for poor and the rich. It is usually prepared as a basis of many African and Mediterranean salads and meals. In Europe, it has become popular in the last fifteen years.
What is couscous?
Although many would place it amongst variety of cereals, couscous is actually a type of pasta. It is obtained from coarsely ground wheat, semolina, which is moistened with salt water. The mixture of semolina and water is rubbed and kneaded between hands in circular motion, in order to obtain dough beads, which are later dried. Workers who make couscous usually use large, shallow bowl and sieve. This work is highly appreciated and it has to be done with care and dedication, because good couscous must never get agglomerated or sticky. If you visit North Africa, you will probably see large groups of women who traditionally make couscous on a daily basis. Those people consider making couscous art.
In North Africa, autumn is the season for preparing couscous supplies for the full year. This is big business that involves whole families with their friends and neighbors. Couscous has a religious significance and it is incorporated in all important events in the life of people in this region. It is an inevitable part of many religious and traditional rituals, from weddings to funerals. It is a symbol of happiness and abundance. In order to obtain well-being and happiness for the whole family, couscous is often given to the poor.
How couscous is used?
The main difference between couscous and typical pasta is the way of obtaining it. All pasta is kneaded from wheat dough, while couscous is made from moistened and dried flour. In addition, that is a natural way of conservation, which makes couscous extremely long-lasting viand. This was of great significance to people who lived in ancient times, when there was no other way to maintain food supplies.
While pasta needs to be served with different sauces, in order to represent a full meal, couscous is a traditional staple food that also makes a complete dish. It is usually served with steamed vegetables. Most couscous dishes are vegetarian, but meat or sea fish can be also added. All kinds of vegetables are traditionally prepared with couscous. Pumpkin, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and variety of other vegetables are commonly served with couscous. Spies are integral element in every couscous meal. Ginger, pepper, cloves, cinnamon are just some of them. Couscous can also be prepared as a dessert. Sweet versions of couscous often include dried fruit and nuts.
Nutritional value of couscous
Viewed from a nutritional perspective, couscous is considered a complete meal, because it contains essential nutritional elements. It consists of whole grains, protein, vitamins and minerals. One cup of couscous provides 176 calories, which is 8% of a standard 2000 approximate daily calorie intake for humans. In the same time, it’s less calories than in a cup of rice, which is good for people on a diet for loosing weight.
Unlike other similar food, couscous is extremely rich in proteins, which makes it a valuable source of energy. Proteins from food are essential for muscle strengthening and growth, therefore couscous is great food for people who exercise. It is good for professional athletes, active people, but also children in development.
One cup of couscous also provides 61% of the recommended daily level of selenium. Selenium plays an important role in protection of blood vessels. Its antioxidant properties prevent blood vessels from atherosclerosis. Natural sources of selenium are rare, so it is good to incorporate couscous in your healthy eating routine.
Couscous is rich in potassium. One cup provides 39% of the recommended daily dose of potassium. It has several important functions, including regulation of blood pressure and palpitations. It also controls fluid balance in humans’ body. It also contains considerable amount of vitamins, minerals and proteins.
Couscous health benefits
Couscous is good for your cardiovascular health. Thanks to its high level of selenium, couscous protects your blood vessels from dangerous cholesterol and plaque formations on blood vessel walls. Therefore, it prevents the body from many serious health conditions and diseases, such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. On the other hand, high value of potassium helps in reduction of blood pressure. It is important for your heart, because it makes it beat regularly, preventing arrhythmias or other irregularities.
Selenium in couscous has a wide range of health benefits and it also plays an important role in metabolic processes. New medical researches proved it can prevent cancer development. Deficiency of selenium increases risk for prostate cancer appearance, as studies have shown. It is also connected with some other forms of cancer, such as lung cancer. Being extremely rare good source of selenium, couscous should be incorporated in regular diet, in order to reduce risk of cancer development.
Couscous is also good for your immune system. It has antioxidant properties, thanks to selenium and other elements. It helps your body fight the dangerous free radicals and it also boosts immune system in a natural way. Selenium also stimulates absorption and function of essential vitamins, such as vitamin C and E, which play important roles in defending the organism from illness. Therefore couscous is powerful food, which can protect your body from immune system weakening.
Being a great source of protein and selenium, couscous is extremely good for muscle strengthening and muscle tissue growth and recovery. Deficiency of selenium results in muscle and body weakness and fatigue. Couscous contains a high level of proteins and selenium, and a moderate calorie value. That makes it superfood for many athletes and physically active people. It can also improve your muscle mass, so it is more and more popular in fitness world.
Couscous is also very good for our digestion. It contains a considerable amount of dietary fibers, which are essential for proper digestion. Fibers accelerate digestion processes; it stimulates peristaltic movement and reduces the risk of constipation. The level of fiber in couscous is also important for people who want to lose weight. Not only it promotes digestion, but it stimulates hormone ghrelin, which generates the feel of hunger. Fiber can reduce the level of ghrelin, which prevent you from overeating. Couscous is also a low calorie food, rich in valuable nutrients, which makes it perfect choice for people on reduction diet plans.