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Brown rice vs Couscous: Difference, Benefits, More

This article explains the key similarities and differences between brown rice and couscous, foods from the grains food group. Read on to learn more about the brown rice vs couscous comparison.
Dennis Gillett, Health & Fitness Writer

Written by Dennis Gillett, Health & Fitness Writer. Updated on January 27, 2023.

Brown rice and couscous 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 couscous 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.


Couscous (Couscous) is a type of pasta made from small, round granules of semolina, which is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat.

It is a good source of carbohydrates and small amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like iron and B vitamins, depending on the ingredients used in the dish’s preparation.

Couscous is a staple food in North Africa and the Middle East and is traditionally served as a side dish or as a base for stews and salads. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest.

Couscous can be enjoyed in various ways. It can be cooked in different sauces, with herbs and spices, and can also be used in salads and soups. It can also be paired with vegetables and lean protein sources such as legumes and in moderate portions.

Couscous is an excellent source of Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and some Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

Brown rice vs Couscous 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 couscous.

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

Brown riceCouscous
Energy362 kcal376 kcal
Carbs76.2 g77.4 g
Sugar0 g0 g
Fiber3.4 g5 g
Protein7.5 g12.8 g
Fat2.68 g0.64 g
Saturated Fat0.536 g0.117 g

Brown rice vs Couscous Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing brown rice vs couscous for weight loss, brown rice is slightly lower in calories, with 362 calories per 100 grams, compared to 376 calories per 100 grams of couscous.

However, both brown rice and couscous 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 Couscous Protein

Grains and most grain products, including brown rice and couscous, 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.

Couscous offers around 41% more protein than brown rice.

Couscous has 12.8 grams of protein per 100 grams, while brown rice has 7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Brown rice vs Couscous 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 couscous.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 2% higher in couscous than in brown rice. It has 77.4 grams per 100 grams, compared to 76.2 grams in brown rice.

That said, 100 grams of brown rice and couscous contains 0 grams of sugar, the same amount.

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

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

With 5 grams of fiber per 100 grams, couscous is a better source of fiber than brown rice which offers 3.4 grams per 100 gram portion.

Brown rice vs Couscous Fats

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

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

Total fat in brown rice and couscous:

  • Brown rice: 2.7 grams per 100 grams
  • Couscous: 0.6 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, couscous is 80% lower in saturated fats.

Couscous and brown rice contain 0.1 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Brown rice vs Couscous Vitamins Content

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

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 B2 (Riboflavin).

However, couscous has a higher amount of vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin E, and vitamin K.

Brown rice and couscous contain the same amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B9 (Folate), and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

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

Brown riceCouscous
Vitamin A00
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.413 mg0.163 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.043 mg0.078 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.31 mg3.49 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)1.49 mg1.24 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.509 mg0.11 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)20 µg20 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.05 mg0
Vitamin K0.9 µg0

Brown rice vs Couscous 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 couscous comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Brown rice is a better source of selenium, and sodium than couscous.

On the other hand, couscous is a higher amount of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

Brown rice and couscous contain the same amount of fluoride.

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

Brown riceCouscous
Calcium33 mg24 mg
Copper0.277 mg0.247 mg
Iron1.8 mg1.08 mg
Magnesium143 mg44 mg
Manganese3.74 mg0.78 mg
Phosphorus264 mg170 mg
Potassium268 mg166 mg
Selenium2.7 µg2.8 µg
Sodium4 mg10 mg
Zinc2.02 mg0.83 mg

The Final Word

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

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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