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Easy to store, quick to prepare and super-versatile, couscous is a great addition to any midweek menu. But, is it a healthy ingredient? Read on to discover which nutrients it contains and how to choose the healthiest variety.

Discover our full range of health benefit guides or try a selection of our couscous recipes such as our one-pan chicken couscous or herby salmon and couscous parcels.

What is couscous?

Although couscous looks like a grain, it's technically a pasta – it's made with semolina flour from durum wheat, mixed with water. There are three different types of couscous: Moroccan, which is the smallest; Israeli or pearl couscous, about the size of peppercorns; and Lebanese, the largest of the three.

It’s easy to make by simply pouring boiling water over the dried couscous and leaving to stand for 5-15 minutes.

More like this

Discover our full range of health benefit guides and check out some of our delicious couscous recipes, from our quick turkey couscous to grilled aubergine tabbouleh.

Pomegranate chicken with almond couscous in a white bowl

Nutritional profile of couscous

An 80g portion (cooked weight) of couscous provides:

  • 142Kcal / 607KJ
  • 5.8g Protein
  • 0.8g Fat
  • 30.0g Carbohydrate
  • 1.8g Fibre
  • 123mg Potassium
  • 2.4mcg Selenium
  • 103mg Phosphorus

What are the top 5 health benefits of couscous?

1. Useful source of selenium

Couscous is a useful source of a number of vitamins and minerals, including immune-supportive selenium. This essential mineral acts as an antioxidant and plays an important role in thyroid function and thyroid hormone production.

2. Source of plant-based protein

Although not a complete protein, couscous is a good source, providing approximately 7g per 100g (cooked weight). It’s a useful inclusion in a plant-focused diet, a way of eating that may be linked to lower risks of conditions like stroke, heart disease and cancer.

3. Source of fibre

Couscous is a source of fibre, but to optimise levels, it's worth looking for wholemeal couscous, which is made from the whole grain. Fibre supports digestive health and alleviates constipation, and research suggests it may help improve levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Wholemeal couscous is also more filling, as the fibre slows down the breakdown of sugar into the bloodstream, providing a more stable source of energy.

4. A healthier alternative to white rice

Couscous provides more protein and a greater contribution of vitamins and minerals than the equivalent portion of white rice.

5. A healthy fast food

Couscous is fast and easy to prepare. The couscous available in most supermarkets has already been steamed before being dried, so it just needs the addition of boiling water or stock to rehydrate it. Couscous may then be added to salads or served as a side dish with meat, fish or vegetables.


Is couscous safe for everyone?

Generally recognised as safe for most people, couscous is a wheat product and as such contains gluten. This means it is not suitable for those with gluten intolerance or coeliac disease.

Healthy couscous recipes

Try the tasty recipes in our healthy couscous collection.

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Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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