For a long time couscous was always a food that seemed to escape me. Not because it sounded or appeared unappetizing to me, but because I was raised on pasta and rice for so long I was just never motivated to try much else. Thankfully, though, over the years I’ve become more willing to give certain foods a shot, or else not only would I not be here talking about couscous but I wouldn’t have discovered how much I love it either.
One evening I was fixing up some cod fillets for dinner when I was scrambling for a good side dish to go with it. Being that it was just after Thanksgiving I was fresh out of leftovers and in need of a trip to the grocery. Just when I thought my cod was about to be served alone, sitting high up in my cabinet, a container of couscous caught my eye. At that moment I figured, “why not?” and gave it a try. Dinner was not only saved, but the family was pleased and thus a new favorite had been successfully adopted in our family kitchen. Now, because of this I became curious about the possible benefits of couscous and decided to do a little research. What I found was completely unexpected.
A traditional food originating from North African cultures, couscous consists of small balls of durum wheat or semolina flour. Often mistaken for grain, couscous is the same dough that’s made into various pastas. It contains an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as selenium, thiamin, niacin, folic acid, potassium, and manganese. All of which are associated with couscous’ wide variety of health benefits from digestion to cancer prevention.
The selenium found in couscous plays a vital role in the health benefits it offers. This essential mineral is hard to find in food sources, but is quite abundant in couscous. More than 60% of the daily suggested intake of selenium is found in a single serving of couscous.
Functioning as a mighty antioxidant, selenium works within blood vessels to minimize plaque buildup and LDL (bad cholesterol) on artery and vein walls. Selenium helps safeguard the body from developing dangerous, life-threatening conditions such as strokes, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks.
The potassium in couscous helps reduce blood pressure, benefitting those who are at high risk for various cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, potassium also aids in the prevention of arrhythmias and other irregularities, helping it to maintain a normal heartbeat.
As mentioned, selenium is a natural antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight and protect against free radicals and other toxins in the body that can lead to various illnesses, even cancer. However, selenium has another unique way of beefing up your immune system. Selenium can stimulate the regeneration of vitamins C and E, both of which are powerful antioxidants that help fortify the body and its natural defenses.
Helps Build Muscle
Looking to build a little muscle? Couscous can serve as an awesome source for improving muscle mass due to its selenium and protein content. Selenium serves as an essential component of protein metabolism and muscle development. According to studies, selenium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness and deterioration, as well as abnormal fatigue.
According to recent studies, selenium deficiencies have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Selenium is a key component in the metabolic pathways which help protect against certain cancers. It’s also linked to preventing lung cancer for smokers, when combined with vitamins E and C.
The human body is composed of more than 15% of protein, and an important part of wound healing, both inside and out. When recovering from illnesses or surgeries, the body has to work double in order to continue normal functioning while dedicating precious energy and nutrients to repairing the damage. Couscous contains a generous amount of protein that can serve as an aid to any protein diet.
Weight Loss & Fitness
When it comes to looking for a low-calorie food, unlike rice or quinoa, couscous contains less than 200 calories per cup, less than 10% of the daily calorie intake suggested for adults. This makes couscous an excellent aid for those looking to trim their waist through dieting. Plus, the extra protein in couscous helps boost muscle development, reducing obesity.
Couscous is low in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat; all of which tend to disrupt weight loss attempts. Its rich fiber content also helps curb cravings and feelings of hunger, which can help keep you from overeating or losing your diet.
Couscous contains about 10% of the body’s daily suggested fiber intake in a single cup. For healthy digestion fiber is without a doubt your best friend. It takes care of your gastrointestinal system and bowel movements, helping to reduce constipation and indigestion. Fiber also acts as a cleaner for arteries, removing harmful LDL (bad) cholesterol and eliminating it from the body. At the same time, fiber helps encourage the uptake and retention of HDL (good) cholesterol in the body.
Couscous’ immunity boosting abilities has been proven to also work as an antibacterial and antiviral agent. It’s a strong deterrent against cancer cells, cold sores, shingles, and the herpes virus.
Regulates Body Fluids
The human body is made up of more than 90% of water, and its proper balance in the organ systems and body cavities is vital for normal functioning. The potassium in couscous helps to achieve this regulation of fluids and cellular pathways. This balance is important for the regulation of blood pressure, decreasing the risk of conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Protein helps regulate the body’s metabolism, which couscous just so happens to provide a high content of. When a protein deficiency occurs it can cause the body’s organs to simply stop functioning properly, leaving it dangerously vulnerable to many potentially lethal health conditions.
Couscous can mitigate concerns for those who wish to avoid such a scenario from lack of protein. It’s an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians who seek alternatives to acquiring needed protein.