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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bulgur -- better than rice

Bulgur wheat has a lower glycemic index than rice. NutritionData estimates the glycemic loads of 100g of brown or white rice at 11, while the glycemic load of bulgur is 7 for the same 100g. This means bulgur is somewhat better for blood sugar and causes less inflammation than rice, which makes bulgur a bit better than rice for preventing or controlling heart disease or diabetes. Every little bit helps.

You can cook whole wheat kernels, or berries, too. The nice thing about bulgur is that it is parboiled -- partially cooked and then dried. This means it cooks faster than raw wheat kernels -- as fast as or faster than rice. Medium or finer grind bulgurs don't even need to be boiled -- just bring to a boil, stir, and soak for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on the size of the cracked grain), then fluff with a fork and serve like rice.

Bulgur may have originated in Bulgaria, and has been eaten all around the Eastern Mediterranean for thousands of years. Some classic dishes are tabbouleh, a cold salad dressed with lemon and mint, and kibbe, a stuffed ball of bulgur.

In the bulk bins of health food stores and large supermarkets, bulgur may be twice the price of store-brand brown rice. In 18- to 24-ounce boxes on the "natural foods" aisle, it may be up to 4 times that price.

Bulgur is wheat. It may not be a good choice if you you suffer from celiac disease or wheat allergy.