Quinoa vs Bulgur: (Nutrition Comparison)


Grains like quinoa and bulgur (wheat) have been staples of human diets around the world for most of our history.

But now that you have the choice of which grain to eat pretty much whenever you want, is one better than the other?

We’re going to answer that question by comparing the nutrients in both foods side-by side here.

Nutritional Value Comparison of Quinoa and Bulgur

Let’s start by looking at the macronutrient profiles of quinoa and bulgur.

The data here and below on this page is per 100 grams of cooked food. That’s not a particularly big serving, so most people will eat 2-3 servings of this size per meal.

  Quinoa Bulgur
Energy (kcal) 120 83
Protein (g) 4.4 3.1
Total Lipid (g) 1.9 0.2
Carbohydrate (g) 21.3 18.6
Fiber (g) 2.8 4.5
Sugars (g) 0.9 0.1

There are a few interesting differences to note:

  • Quinoa is significantly higher in calories than bulgur (by about 50%)
  • Quinoa has more protein per serving, but about the same amount of protein per calorie. In other words, if you eat the same amount of calories of both foods, you’ll get the same amount of protein.
  • Quinoa is much higher in fat than bulgur, but still low-fat overall.
  • Bulgur is about 60% higher in fiber than quinoa.

Both are still carbohydrate-heavy foods with fairly similar macronutrient profiles, so neither is clearly better than the other from this simple analysis.

Vitamins and Minerals in Quinoa vs Bulgur

A big factor in the health impact of a food is the amount of micronutrients in it.

The column below shows the vitamins and minerals in quinoa and bulgur, along with a general RDA for adults so that we can sort and quickly compare the data.

  RDA Quinoa Bulgur
Manganese (mg) 2.3 0.6 0.6
Phosphorus (mg) 700 152.0 40.0
Magnesium (mg) 400 64.0 32.0
Folate (µg) 400 42.0 18.0
Zinc (mg) 11 1.1 0.6
Potassium (mg) 2000 172.0 68.0
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 0.1 0.1
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.1
Iron (mg) 18 1.5 1.0
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.1 0.0
Niacin (mg) 16 0.4 1.0
Selenium (µg) 55 2.8 0.6
Choline (mg) 550 23.0 6.9
Vitamin E (mg) 15 0.6 0.0
Calcium (mg) 1200 17.0 10.0
Vitamin K (µg) 75 0.0 0.5
Sodium (mg) 1500 7.0 5.0
Copper (mg) 900 0.2 0.1
Vitamin C (mg) 90 0.0 0.0
Vitamin B-12 (µg) 2.4 0.0 0.0
Vitamin A (µg) 900 0.0 0.0
Vitamin D (µg) 15 0.0 0.0

Despite bulgur being lower in calories, it has significantly more of several nutrients, including:

  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Choline
  • Vitamin E

Since there aren’t any nutrients where bulgur has significantly higher values, it’s clear that quinoa has a much more nutritious micronutrient profile.

Quinoa vs Bulgur: Which is Healthier?

Based on the data, quinoa is healthier than bulgur in most situations. However, there are some diets where bulgur could be the better fit.

Quinoa has more protein and a significantly  higher level of most vitamins and minerals.

But bulgur is lower in calories and has more fiber, which can be desirable in some situations.

Is Quinoa or Bulgur Better for Weight Loss?

Since bulgur only has about 80 calories per 100 gram serving, compared to 120 calories in quinoa, bulgur is often the better choice for someone trying to lose weight.

How filling a particular person finds bulgur and quinoa may also affect this result. Some people find bulgur more filling than quinoa, likely due to the extra fiber. However, some find that quinoa is more filling, which can be explained by higher levels of fat. 

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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