Bulgur Wheat vs Rice: Benefits & Nutrition

The world of healthy grains is becoming more and more accessible, with people having more access and knowledge to a variety of healthy whole grains such as barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, and so many more!

Whether bulger wheat is new to you or you are just curious about the similarities and differences between bulgur wheat and rice, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading below!

Key Differences in Bulgur Wheat vs Rice

The main difference between bulgur wheat and rice is that bulgur wheat has significantly more calories at 364 calories per 100 grams, and brown rice has 112 calories. Bulgur wheat provides 11.4 grams of protein per 100 grams and is a complete protein source. Brown rice contains 2.3 grams of protein and is an incomplete source of protein. Bulgur wheat also provides more dietary fiber and other nutrients.

Bulgur wheat contains gluten and should not be eaten by those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, or those on a gluten-free diet. Rice does not contain gluten.

We’ll dive closer into the other nutrients and health benefits of each grain further below. Keep reading!

Bulgur WheatBrown Rice White Rice
Gluten-FreeNoYesYes
Whole GrainYesYesNo
Calories per 100 grams364112130
Protein per 100 grams11.4 g, 23%2.3 g, 5%2.7 g, 5%
Complete Protein SourceYesNoNo

wood bowl filled with bulger wheat, which looks like golden rice grains

What is Bulgur Wheat?

Bulgur wheat is an ancient grain with roots from the Mediterranean regions, West Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Like brown rice, bulgur wheat has a mild nutty flavor that is slightly more intense than rice. It has a chewy texture that is similar to quinoa or couscous.

Bulgur is a cereal grain made from dried, cracked wheat. Durum wheat is used the most in making bulgur wheat, but a hard wheat such as einkorn may also be used. Many pastas are also made from durum wheat.

Bulgur wheat is a great option for protein as it has a high amount of protein,11.4 grams of protein or 23% of the daily value per 100 gram serving, which is slightly more than 1/2 cup serving of bulgur. It is also a complete source of protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids.

How to Use Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur wheat makes a great side dish or breakfast cereal like oatmeal and can be substituted for similar grains such as quinoa, rice, oats, and couscous. It is relatively quick and simple to prepare as it is parboiled or partially pre-cooked. You can cook it on the stovetop, in the microwave, or through rehydration.

Bulgur wheat comes in a few varieties- fine bulgur, medium, or coarse bulgur. The cooking time varies from about 5-20 minutes, depending on how coarse the grain is, as the coarser the grain, the longer it will take to cook.

You may find bulgur wheat used in salads, mixed with vegetables, or other grains.

green rice culm, with 3 small bowls. One with white rice grains, one with brown rice grains and one with black rice grains

What is Rice?

Varieties of rice will vary depending on the region of the world you are in. There are several different varieties, such as Jasmine Rice or Basmati rice. Rice comes in various grain sizes, such as long-, medium, and short-grain rice.

Then we have whole grain rice and refined rice. Whole grain rice is whole with the endosperm, germ, and bran all fully intact. Rice varieties of whole grain include brown rice, black rice, and red rice.

All white rice varieties are refined grains, meaning the rice has been processed to remove the bran and the germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm. This process also removes much of the nutritional value of the grain. White rice is then fortified with nutrients to add nutrition back in. Brown rice is healthier and provides more nutrients than white rice does.

Brown rice has a nutty flavor and chewy texture similar to bulgur wheat, and both have a nuttier and chewier texture than white rice.

Nutritional Profile for Bulgur Wheat and Rice

Nutritional content may vary for each grain based on the brand you buy in the grocery store.

Comparison based on 100 grams of cooked rice and cooked bulgur wheat, which is approximately 1/2 cup of each grain. DV= Daily Values

Bulgur WheatBrown RiceWhite Rice
Calories364112130
Total Fat
Sat. Fat
Trans Fat
1.1 g
0 g
0 g
0.8 g
0.2 g
0 g
0.3 g
0.1 g
0 g
Cholesterol0 mg0 mg0 mg
Sodium11 mg1 mg1 mg
Total Carb.
Dietary Fiber
Sugars
Added Sugars
75 g, 25%
13.6 g, 49%
0 g
0 g
23.5 g, 8%
1.8 g, 6%
0 g
0 g
28.2, 9%
0.4 g
0.1 g
0 g
Protein11.4 g, 23%2.3 g, 5%2.7 g, 5%
Vitamin D0% DV0% DV0% DV
Iron2.5 mg, 14% DV0.5 mg, 3% DV1.2 mg, 7% DV
Calcium 0 mg, 0% DV10 mg, 1% DV10 mg, 1% DV
Potassium 432 mg, 9% DV79 mg, 2% DV35 mg, 1% DV
Nutritional Profile Source

Health Benefits for Bulgur Wheat and Rice

Bulgur wheat and brown rice offer many nutritional benefits as they are both whole grains, with bulgur wheat containing greater nutritional content. White rice provides the least benefits as it is a refined grain.

Fiber Rich

Bulger wheat is an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fiber helps to support a healthy digestive system. Bulgur wheat provides 13.6 grams of fiber per 100 gram serving, a little more than 1/2 cup of bulgur cooked.

May Help Support Heart Health

Fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains like bulgur wheat and brown rice, have been shown to support heart health and lower the risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Manage Blood Sugar Levels

Bulgur wheat may help manage blood sugar levels. Whole grains rich in fiber and phytonutrients are associated with lower insulin levels and tend not to spike blood sugar levels like their refined counterparts. Bulgur wheat is considered to be low on the glycemic index scale, with a 46. Although it is not low in carbohydrates, it is high in fiber which helps slow digestion and keeps blood sugar levels stable. Brown rice has a medium glycemic index, and white rice is higher, so bulger rice is the best option for blood sugar management. Based on research, bulgur wheat is high in fiber and may even help improve insulin sensitivity.

Healthy Weight Management

Bulgur wheat and brown rice may help support healthy weight management and weight loss. It’s important to note that several factors influence weight loss. However, numerous studies have found that high fiber intake is linked to weight loss. Fiber tends to help people feel fuller for longer, which can help reduce overeating.

Dietary Considerations

Bulgur wheat is a wheat product and does contain gluten. Therefore it is not a good option for anyone with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or those on a gluten-free diet. Brown rice is gluten-free and would be the best choice for anyone avoiding gluten.

The high insoluble fiber content in bulgur may not be tolerable for anyone with digestive or intestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about finding freedom with food here.