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Couscous is a traditional Berber dish of semolina which is cooked by steaming. It is traditionally served with a meat or vegetable stew spooned over it. Couscous is a staple food throughout the North African cuisines of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya.

Couscous (pronounced Koose-Koose) is considered a pasta which is made of small granules of semolina flour, and is traditional in North African cuisine. It is also available made from whole-wheat flour, which slightly increases the fiber and boosts nutritional value. It is a culinary ingredient used as a substitution for rice or quinoa, it is very versatile, and it’s preparation requires little more than the addition of hot water and fluffing with a fork, then served as a side dish or in recipes, taking on the flavor of whatever you cook it with.  Ways to serve Couscous include adding it to soups, mixing it with sauteed vegetables, and as a breakfast cereal.

The good news doesn’t stop there, as a 1 cup serving of couscous provides only 176 calories, or 8% of a standard 2,000 calorie diet. This would be far fewer calories than a cup of rice or quinoa, which provide 205 and 254 calories per cup.

A 1 cup of couscous adds 6g of protein to your day, or 12% of the daily intake recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. Other grains typically provide a lower levels of this macro-nutrient, which is needed for muscle building after exercise, and sustaining energy. A perfect fit for today’s health–conscious eaters.

Carbohydrates make up the majority of the calories in whole-wheat couscous, totaling 38g per 1 cup serving. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 130g of carbohydrates per day for optimal energy levels.

Whole-grain couscous contains more fat than white flour couscous, but the totals are still quite small. A 1-cup serving of the whole wheat variety contains only 1g.

Including couscous in your diet provides several health benefits.  A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 43 mcg of selenium, or 61% of the 70 mcg daily value. This is a trace mineral that the body needs in small quantities, acting as an antioxidant and protecting healthy cells from the mutating effects of toxins that change the DNA and structural composition, leading to disease and premature aging.

The potassium in couscous provides important functions, such as regulating blood pressure and the heartbeat. Potassium helps control fluid balance, an important factor in blood pressure regulation. It also assists with muscle contractions, and because the heart is a muscle, it requires potassium to prevent arrythmias, or irregularities of the heartbeat. A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 91mg of potassium, or 39% of the 3,500 mg the FDA recommends to get daily.

Eating couscous provides you with a good source of lean, vegetarian protein. A 1-cup serving of cooked couscous gives you 6 grams of protein, which meets 12 percent of the daily value for the nutrient. Your body relies on dietary protein to support healthy skin, muscles, organs and other body tissues. Choosing lean protein sources helps ensure you're meeting your daily protein needs without consuming excess fat. A serving of couscous has less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving making it very lean.

Each one cup serving of couscous provides 2 grams of dietary fiber. Even though fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate, it plays a vital role in maintaining your health. Fiber may be beneficial for weight management, because it absorbs water and swells in your digestive tract helping you feel full. It also keeps food moving through your body preventing constipation. Your cholesterol level may even benefit from fiber because it binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and removes it from your body.

When grains are processed, many of the nutrients are lost. Choosing whole grain foods typically provides you with more vitamins, minerals and fiber per serving than refined grains. Couscous is a whole-grain food and a good source of B vitamins needed to keep you healthy. Specifically, couscous provides thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, B6, folate and pantothenic acid. These nutrients help metabolize energy, maintain healthy red blood cells, prevent certain birth defects and keep your skin, blood, brain, nervous system, heart and immune system functioning well.

Minerals are also present in varying levels in couscous. A serving of the pasta provides 61 percent of the daily value for selenium. Selenium plays an essential role in reproductive health, metabolism of thyroid hormones, protein synthesis and preventing damage from free radicals, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. One cup of couscous also contains 7 percent of the daily value for the mineral manganese. While only a tiny amount of manganese is needed daily, it plays a part in maintaining the health of bones, blood, hormones, nerve and brain function as well regulating metabolism and blood sugar.

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