Brown rice vs Bulgur: How To Choose?

This article explains the key similarities and differences between brown rice and bulgur, foods from the grains food group. Read on to learn more about the brown rice vs bulgur comparison.
Catherine Toledo, Journalist

Written by Catherine Toledo, Journalist. Updated on January 27, 2023.

Brown rice and bulgur belong to the grains food group, one of the staple food groups for people on a plant-based diet.

Grains and grain products are an affordable source of carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), iron, and zinc, minerals that are usually harder to get on a plant-based diet.

They also provide a small amount of protein and healthy fats.

However, it is important to note that whole grains are generally a better source of these nutrients than refined grains.

This article will thoroughly compare brown rice and bulgur and help you learn more about their similarities and differences.

Brown rice

Brown rice (Oryza sativa) is a whole-grain rice that is minimally processed, retaining its nutrient-rich bran and germ layers.

It is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is particularly high in vitamins B3, B1, B6, and B9 and minerals like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. The high fiber content of brown rice has been linked to improved digestion, weight management, and lower cholesterol levels.

Brown rice is a staple food in many cultures and is often used as a side dish, in soups and stews, and as an ingredient in salads, sushi, and other dishes. It is also considered a functional food, as it has been shown to positively impact health when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet.

Brown rice is a gluten-free alternative to wheat-based products, making it a good option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Brown rice is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine).

It also contains Vitamin B9 (Folate) in a small amount.


Bulgur (Triticum aestivum) is a type of whole wheat that is made by steaming, drying, and then coarsely grinding wheat berries.

It is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. It is also rich in antioxidants and protein, making it a valuable food for vegetarians and vegans.

Bulgur is a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, often used in dishes such as tabbouleh and kibbeh. It can also be used in soups, stews, and as a stuffing. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest, making it a great option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Bulgur is considered a functional food, as it has been shown to positively impact health when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet. It is also a sustainable crop, as it can be grown in poor soil conditions and is resistant to pests and diseases.

Bulgur is an excellent source of Vitamin B3 (Niacin).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine) and some Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

Brown rice vs Bulgur Nutrition

Now that we’ve described the origin, taste, and usage of these foods, we can move to the most interesting part – comparing brown rice vs bulgur.

This comparison will start by comparing the caloric value of brown rice and bulgur and their macronutrients and then go more in-depth by analyzing their vitamin and mineral content.

Brown riceBulgur
Energy362 kcal342 kcal
Carbs76.2 g75.9 g
Sugar0 g0.41 g
Fiber3.4 g12.5 g
Protein7.5 g12.3 g
Fat2.68 g1.33 g
Saturated Fat0.536 g0.232 g

Brown rice vs Bulgur Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing bulgur vs brown rice for weight loss, bulgur is slightly lower in calories, with 342 calories per 100 grams, compared to 362 calories per 100 grams of brown rice.

However, both brown rice and bulgur can and should be a part of a healthy diet, and neither one shouldn’t be avoided if you’re looking to lose weight.

Brown rice vs Bulgur Protein

Grains and most grain products, including brown rice and bulgur, are important sources of plant-based protein.

However, it should be noted that most grains, with the exception of quinoa and buckwheat, for example, are low in lysine and methionine.

That said, you can combine grains with legumes to get a complete protein.

Bulgur offers around 39% more protein than brown rice.

Bulgur has 12.3 grams of protein per 100 grams, while brown rice has 7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Brown rice vs Bulgur Carbs

Counting carbs can be important for some people for different reasons, including blood sugar control, weight management, or athletic performance.

It’s also important for people on a keto diet, so let’s compare the carbs content in brown rice and bulgur.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 0% higher in brown rice than in bulgur. It has 76.2 grams per 100 grams, compared to 75.9 grams in bulgur.

There’s less sugar in brown rice than in bulgur, 100% precisely.

That said, 100 grams of brown rice contains 0 grams of sugar, while the same amount of bulgur contains 0.4 grams.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the dietary fiber in brown rice and bulgur.

Dietary fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and helps with weight management by promoting a sense of fullness.

With 12.5 grams of fiber per 100 grams, bulgur is a better source of fiber than brown rice which offers 3.4 grams per 100 gram portion.

Brown rice vs Bulgur Fats

Like most other grains, brown rice and bulgur are low in fat.

Fats in brown rice and bulgur are mostly healthy unsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free.

Total fat in brown rice and bulgur:

  • Brown rice: 2.7 grams per 100 grams
  • Bulgur: 1.3 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, bulgur is 60% lower in saturated fats.

Bulgur and brown rice contain 0.2 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Brown rice vs Bulgur Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of brown rice and bulgur.

Vitamins are micronutrients, meaning we need only a small amount. However, they are very important for many processes in our bodies.

Brown rice has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B9 (Folate), vitamin E, and vitamin K.

However, bulgur has a higher amount of vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine).

Brown rice and bulgur contain the same amount of vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

The following table shows the exact amount of vitamins brown rice and bulgur contain side by side, so you can easily compare them.

Brown riceBulgur
Vitamin A09 IU
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.413 mg0.232 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.043 mg0.115 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.31 mg5.11 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)1.49 mg1.04 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.509 mg0.342 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)20 µg27 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.05 mg0.06 mg
Vitamin K0.9 µg1.9 µg

Brown rice vs Bulgur Minerals Content

Minerals are important for our body to function properly. We need only a small amount of minerals, so they are called micronutrients.

Some minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc, or iodine, are relatively hard to get on a plant-based diet, so it’s important to choose your foods thoughtfully. This part of the brown rice and bulgur comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Brown rice is a better source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium than bulgur.

On the other hand, bulgur is a higher amount of manganese, selenium, and zinc.

Brown rice and bulgur contain the same amount of fluoride.

Check out the table below to learn how brown rice and bulgur compare when it comes to mineral content.

Brown riceBulgur
Calcium33 mg35 mg
Copper0.277 mg0.335 mg
Iron1.8 mg2.46 mg
Magnesium143 mg164 mg
Manganese3.74 mg3.05 mg
Phosphorus264 mg300 mg
Potassium268 mg410 mg
Selenium2.7 µg2.3 µg
Sodium4 mg17 mg
Zinc2.02 mg1.93 mg

The Final Word

This article highlighted the similarities and differences between brown rice and bulgur.

Grains, also known as cereal grains, are an important source of nutrition for many people around the world. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body.

Whole grains contain important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Whole grains, in particular, are high in dietary fiber and can help with digestion and weight management.

They may also have other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Grains are also a staple food and an important source of food security in many parts of the world.


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