Bulgur and quinoa are healthy options increasing in popularity. For this reason many people wonder if one is better. Let’s answer, is bulgur better than quinoa?
Quinoa is better than bulgur due to its higher percentage of protein, B vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is a complete protein meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids, bulgur does not. Quinoa is naturally gluten free while bulgur is a wheat and not better for a gluten free diet.
This article will include a complete comparison of bulgur and quinoa including a side-by-side nutrient comparison. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, prices, glycemic index, satiety index and health benefits.
Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Bulgur vs Quinoa: The Differences
Many people aren’t familiar with one of the two foods or both. Therefore, a common question asked, what’s the difference between bulgur and quinoa?
Bulgur is made from cracked parboiled groats of several wheat species, while quinoa is the seed from a Chenopodium quinoa plant. Quinoa is not a grain but it is cooked in water and consumed like a grain. Quinoa are shaped more oval than the less round bulgur.
Other differences between bulgur and quinoa:
- Bulgur comes in an off white to reddish color depending on the coarseness. Common quinoa colors are white, red and black.
- Bulgur costs less money than quinoa.
- Quinoa provides a higher percentage of protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Bulgur is lower in calories than quinoa.
- Bulgur provides more fiber than quinoa.
- Bulgur has a better glycemic index than quinoa.
- Quinoa is naturally gluten free and bulgur is not.
Some similarities between bulgur and quinoa:
- They both have a mild taste and may be slightly nutty depending on their color.
- Bulgur and quinoa are both cooked by boiling in water.
- Bulgur and quinoa have a similar fluffy, chewy texture.
Nutrient Comparison Between Bulgur and Quinoa
Bulgur and quinoa contain many of the same nutrients, although there are some differences. Different types of bulgur and quinoa may vary slightly in their nutrient content.
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in a 100-gram serving of cooked bulgur and cooked quinoa.
|Bulgur (100 g)||Quinoa (100 g)|
|Protein||3.08 g||4.40 g|
|Carbohydrates||18.6 g||21.3 g|
|Fiber||4.5 g||2.8 g|
|Fat||0.24 g||1.92 g|
|Sugar||0.10 g||0.87 g|
|Vitamin A||2 IU||5 IU|
|Beta-carotene||1 mcg||0 mcg|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||0 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.08 mg||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||18 mcg||42 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.05 mg||0.10 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.02 mg||0.11 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.00 mg||0.41 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.34 mg||0.33 mg|
|Magnesium||32 mg||64 mg|
|Phosphorous||40 mg||152 mg|
|Potassium||68 mg||172 mg|
|Iron||0.96 mg||1.49 mg|
|Copper||0.07 mg||0.19 mg|
|Calcium||10 mg||17 mg|
|Zinc||0.57 mg||1.09 mg|
Bulgur and quinoa contain many of the same nutrients. At first glance it may be difficult to determine which one provides a higher percentage of nutrients than the other. This causes many people to ask, which is more healthier bulgur or quinoa?
Quinoa is healthier than bulgur due to its higher percentage of protein, vitamins and minerals. Quinoa provides more vitamin A, B6, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, calcium and zinc than bulgur. Quinoa is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.
Bulgur is very nutritious and provides many nutrients. Bulgur contains fewer calories, fat, sugar and carbohydrates. Bulgur provides a higher percentage of fiber, niacin and B5. Bulgur has a better glycemic index than quinoa.
Whichever you choose, you really can’t go wrong. Your decision may depend on your goals discussed next.
When to Choose Bulgur or Quinoa
Both foods are considered healthy. Bulgur contains more of some nutrients while quinoa contains more of others. Some people prefer choosing just one, other people may want to alternate between the two for variety.
Some people choose food fitting their particular goals. Let’s examine some of these goals and determine which food is better for each one.
Low-carb or Keto Diet
If your goal is a Keto or low-carb diet then carbohydrates may be your number one concern. If you’re on a low-carb diet, you may ask which has more carbohydrates, bulgur or quinoa?
Bulgur contains 15% less carbohydrates per 100 grams cooked than quinoa making it better for a low-carb diet. Quinoa contains 21.3 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams cooked. Bulgur contains 18.6 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams cooked.
Another consideration for low-carb diets is the amount of fat and protein. Quinoa provides 1.92 grams of fat and 4.4 grams of protein per 100 grams cooked. Bulgur provides 0.24 grams of fat and 3.08 grams of protein.
If you have celiac disease or choose to consume a gluten free diet, this can make or break your choice. Between bulgur and quinoa, which is gluten free?
Quinoa is naturally gluten free while bulgur is a wheat and not gluten free. Therefore, if you require a gluten free diet, quinoa is the choice for you over bulgur.
In addition, quinoa can be made into flour and used as a substitute for regular flour in gluten free recipes.
My Vitamix blender I use at home can make quinoa, millet, almond, cashew or any nut flour in seconds. Check out my blender review here, Vitamix Venturist V1220 Review.
Weight loss may be the most common goal of all. If you want to lose extra pounds from the mid-section, you may ask, which is better for weight loss, bulgur or quinoa?
Bulgur is better for weight loss than quinoa due to its 45% fewer calories per 100 grams. Quinoa contains 120 calories per 100 grams cooked. Bulgur contains 83 calories per 100 grams cooked. Bulgur also contains 60% more fiber which can increase the feeling of fullness.
Bulgur has a lower glycemic index than quinoa. This combined with more fiber means less blood sugar increases, an increased feeling of fullness and slower digestion. This has been associated in some studies helping weight loss.
If you’re bodybuilding or just have a goal to gain lean muscle mass, there’s a good chance you’re lifting weights at the gym or home. Which is better for bodybuilding, bulgur or quinoa?
Quinoa is better than bulgur for bodybuilding due to its higher percentage of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Quinoa provides 4.40 grams of protein per 100 grams cooked. Bulgur provides 3.08 grams of protein per 100 grams cooked.
This means quinoa provides 43% more protein than bulgur. The extra amount of protein, vitamins and minerals help to repair and build new muscle after exercise.
The extra carbohydrates quinoa provides help to fuel energy and increase exercise performance when lifting weights and exercising.
Supplements for bodybuilding are expensive, and the costs add up pretty fast. Considering the price of both, bulgur costs less than quinoa.
You’d have to decide whether the difference in price makes up for fewer grams of protein. For more details about the prices check out the next section of this article.
Bulgur vs Quinoa: Which Costs More?
It seems every supermarket visit results in a higher price at checkout than the last time. Unless you hit the lottery, the cost of food certainly matters to most, especially with the rising costs of everything.
Therefore, the price may sway your decision about which one to use in your meals more often. Let’s examine, which costs more, bulgur or quinoa?
Quinoa costs 62% more per 1/4 cup than bulgur. The average price for quinoa is $0.57 per 1/4 cup. The average price for bulgur is $0.35 per 1/4 cup.
The prices for both foods vary depending on the store, location and sales offered.
I decided to conduct a search of various different stores to compare the price of bulgur and quinoa.
I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of bulgur and quinoa:
- Wholesome Pantry White Quinoa
- $3.99 per 12 oz bag (7 servings) equaling $0.57 per 1/4 cup serving.
- Wholesome Pantry Tri-Color (White, Red, Black)
- $3.99 per 12 oz bag (7 servings) equaling $0.57 per 1/4 cup serving.
- Bob’s Red Mill Red Bulgur
- $4.49 per 24 oz bag (15 servings) equaling $0.30 per 1/4 cup serving.
- Arrowhead Organic Bulgur
- $5.99 per 24 oz bag (15 servings) equaling $0.40 per 1/4 cup serving.
I then checked Walmart for the prices of bulgur and quinoa:
- Food to Live White Quinoa
- $10.99 per 1 pound bag
- Food to Live Organic Red Quinoa
- $13.48 per 1 pound bag
- Food to Live organic bulgur wheat
- $6.16 per 1 pound bag
Bulgur vs Quinoa: Taste and Texture
Besides the nutrients, many people choose one food over the other because of its taste. Since there are some similarities between the two, many people wonder and ask, does bulgur and quinoa taste the same?
Bulgur and quinoa have a mild flavor. Bulgur is nuttier than the blander quinoa. The red or black quinoa may be sweeter than the white quinoa or bulgur. White quinoa and bulgur are light and fluffy. Red and black quinoa and bulgur are chewier than white quinoa.
What does quinoa taste like?
Quinoa has a mild flavor and is unsweet and not bitter. It has a slightly nutty flavor, and its texture is fluffy and chewy. Quinoa which isn’t rinsed or pre rinsed prior to cooking may taste bitter. Red and black quinoa is chewier than the white colored quinoa.
What does bulgur taste like?
Bulgur has a mild flavor with a hint of nuttiness. It will take on the flavor of ingredients added to the mixture. Bulgur has a light and chewy texture.
I decided to poll my clients, readers and people in food groups I belong to. I asked them, do you prefer the taste of bulgur or quinoa?
- 61% said they preferred the taste of quinoa.
- 28% said they preferred the taste of bulgur.
- 11% said they had no preference or haven’t tasted one of the two.
How to Cook Red Bulgur
Bulgur is partially cooked and for that reason most types take less than 15 minutes to cook. Different types require different cooking times, therefore always check the instructions on your package.
Bulgur can be used like rice, quinoa, barley or couscous.
- Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of bulgur to a boil in a pot.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender. About 12 minutes.
- Drain off any remaining water, fluff with a fork and serve.
How to Cook Red Quinoa
Most store bought quinoa is pre-rinsed, if it is not pre-rinsed the red quinoa should be rinsed to avoid a bitter taste.
- In a pot combine 1 cup of red quinoa with 2 cups of water or broth.
- Bring to a rolling boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is evaporated (about 15 minutes).
- Let stand 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.
- Salt or add spices to taste.
How to Cook White Quinoa
Most store bought quinoa is pre-rinsed, if it is not pre-rinsed the white quinoa should be rinsed to avoid a bitter taste.
- In a pot combine 1 cup of white quinoa with 2 cups of water or broth.
- Bring to a rolling boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is evaporated (about 10-15 minutes).
- Let stand 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.
- Salt or add spices to taste.
Quinoa cooking tips:
- Red quinoa takes about 3-5 minutes longer to cook.
- Quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed.
- If it’s properly cooked, you can see little, curled ends.
- 1 cup of dry quinoa makes about 3 1/2 to 4 cups cooked.
- Quinoa should be cooked and not eaten raw.
- For finicky kids, consider adding small amounts of quinoa to cookies, salads, meatballs or even macaroni and cheese.
Find out how quinoa compared to barley in my article, Barley vs Quinoa: Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.
Substituting Bulgur and Quinoa
When someone buys bulgur, a common question asked is, can I substitute bulgur for quinoa?
Bulgur can substitute for quinoa and both are interchangeable with each other in recipes, side dishes, salads and baking. Bulgur cannot substitute in gluten free dishes as quinoa is naturally gluten free and bulgur isn’t. When substituting bulgur for quinoa use equal amounts called for in the recipe.
The best substitutes for quinoa are:
The best substitutes for bulgur are:
Find out how white quinoa compared to black quinoa in my article, White Quinoa vs Black Quinoa: What’s The Difference?
Bulgur vs Quinoa: Glycemic Index
Avoiding blood sugar spikes is an important part of consuming healthy food. This is true for diabetics or anyone worrying about their health 3. For this reason, the glycemic index of food is important.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 4. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 5.
Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:
- Low-GI foods: 55 or under
- Medium-GI foods: 56-69
- High-GI foods: 70 or over
How blood sugars levels are affected:
- Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.
Knowing more about the glycemic index of food and how it raises blood sugar, many people ask, does bulgur or quinoa have a better glycemic index?
Bulgur has a better glycemic index than quinoa making it more desirable for diabetics. Even though, both bulgur and quinoa are low GI foods.
- Bulgur cooked in boiling water for 20 minutes has a glycemic index of 46.
- Red quinoa cooked in boiling water for 15 minutes has a glycemic index of 54.
- White quinoa cooked in boiling water for 15 minutes has a glycemic index of 50.
After boiling red quinoa has a glycemic load of 24 and white quinoa 23. Boiled bulgur has a glycemic load of 21.
Find out how white and red quinoa compared to each other in my article, Red Quinoa vs White Quinoa: What’s The Difference?
Bulgur vs Quinoa: Satiety Index
Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of being full and the loss of appetite which occurs after eating food. The satiety index is a scale showing how full a person feels after eating a certain food.
The satiety index was developed in 1995 from a study which tested 38 foods. The foods were ranked how they satisfied a person’s hunger. Foods scoring under 100 are considered less filling and foods scoring above 100 are considered more filling 6.
The table below shows the satiety scores of oats, lentils, rice and a few other filling foods.
|Food||Satiety Index Score|
Unfortunately, bulgur or quinoa was not one of the 38 foods tested. I researched scientific studies and found a few which tested the satiety of quinoa or bulgur compared to rice.
A study in 2005, by the University of Milan, tested the satiety of quinoa, oats and buckwheat compared to eating rice. All three had a higher satiating efficiency than rice 7.
A study involving 22 people was published in 2007 and compared boiled and steamed bulgur to rice. The researchers found the participants felt less hungry after one hour and 1.5 hours after consuming the bulgur compared to rice 8.
Since rice has satiety scores of 132% and 138%, we may be able to assume bulgur and quinoa has a higher satiety score than 138%.
High satiety foods like bulgur and quinoa are likely to have a high satiety score for the following reasons:
- High in protein.
- High in fiber.
- High in volume (foods containing a lot of water or air).
- Low in energy density (foods low in calories for their weight).
Find out how quinoa compared to lentils in my article, Quinoa vs Lentils:Which is Better? A Complete Comparison.
Bulgur vs Quinoa: Health Benefits
The nutrients in bulgur and quinoa are similar just in different percentages. Therefore, the benefits contained in both are similar, with quinoa more effective in some benefit categories and bulgur in others.
The following describes how each nutrient may benefit health.
Quinoa has a higher percentage of minerals than bulgur. Let’s take a closer look at some of these minerals and how they benefit health.
- Cooked quinoa contains 64 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.
- Cooked bulgur contains 32 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.
Cooked quinoa provides 100% more magnesium than cooked bulgur per 100 grams.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 9.
Magnesium helps control the following:
- Nerve function
- Blood sugar
- Blood pressure
In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 10.
One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
Check out 13 healthy substitutes for quinoa in my article, Quinoa Replacements: 13 Healthy Substitutes.
- Cooked quinoa contains 1.49 mg of iron per 100 grams.
- Cooked bulgur contains 0.96 mg of iron per 100 grams.
Cooked quinoa provides 55% more iron than cooked bulgur per 100 grams.
Iron is essential in the creation of red blood cells and is a necessary part of any healthy diet. Iron is also vital for growth and development, as some hormones need iron to be appropriately balanced 11.
- Cooked quinoa contains 17 mg of calcium per 100 grams.
- Cooked bulgur contains 10 mg of calcium per 100 grams.
Cooked quinoa provides 70% more calcium than cooked bulgur per 100 grams.
Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 12.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Helps nerve function.
- Help the muscles to function properly.
- Maintain and build strong bones.
- Cooked quinoa contains 172 mg of potassium per 100 grams.
- Cooked bulgur contains 68 mg of potassium per 100 grams.
Cooked quinoa provides 153% more potassium than cooked bulgur per 100 grams.
Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 13.
Some medical experts recommend the potassium to sodium ratio of 4:1. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 14.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 15. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.
- Cooked quinoa contains 152 mg of phosphorus per 100 grams.
- Cooked bulgur contains 40 mg of phosphorus per 100 grams.
Cooked quinoa provides 280% more phosphorus than cooked bulgur per 100 grams.
Phosphorus has been shown in scientific studies to help with the following:
- Promote teeth and bone health.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
- Muscle recovery and contraction.
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
- Help the body manage and store energy.
Macros & Fiber
- Cooked bulgur contains 4.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
- Cooked quinoa contains 2.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
Cooked bulgur provides 60% more fiber than cooked quinoa per 100 grams.
Soluble fiber is helpful for many reasons 16. What makes fiber soluble is it dissolves in water.
Soluble fiber is known for the following:
- Helps avoid constipation and have a more regular stool.
- Manage the blood glucose levels which helps decrease the risk of diabetes.
- Aids greatly in weight management because it allows you to feel full faster and eat less.
- Help overall digestive health.
- Cooked quinoa provides 4.40 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Cooked bulgur provides 3.08 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Cooked quinoa provides 43% more protein than cooked bulgur per 100 grams.
Both foods are a good source of protein. Protein may help benefit the following:
- Boost metabolism
- Reduce appetite
- Weight loss
- Build and repair muscle
As noted earlier in the nutrition section of the article, quinoa is a complete protein and contains all the essential amino acids.
Quinoa provides a higher percentage of four of the six B vitamins listed below. The B vitamins provided include the following:
- B1 (thiamin) (Quinoa provides more thiamin than bulgur)
- B2 (riboflavin) (Quinoa provides more riboflavin than bulgur)
- B3 (niacin) (Bulgur provides more niacin than quinoa)
- B5 (Bulgur provides more B5 than quinoa)
- B6 (Quinoa provides more B6 than quinoa)
- B9 (folate) (Quinoa provides more folate than bulgur)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Nerve function.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Brain function.
- Energy levels.
- Red blood cells.
A lack of B vitamins has been associated with oxidative stress and neural inflammation.
In a study released in 2018 32 healthy adults were given B vitamin supplementation for six months. The results indicated preliminary evidence B vitamin supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammation 17.
Read Next – More Food vs Food Articles!
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- USDA: Quinoa, cooked
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