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Bulgur: The Whole-Grain Healer

bulgur_the_whole_grain_healer_whole_wheat_picMany people are not familiar with bulgur, but it’s just wheat in its whole form, which makes it a wholesome and very healthy grain. Research studies have indicated that bulgur can help to prevent colon and breast cancers, an important health attribute to have in a food since colon and breast cancers are currently the number two and three top incidence and killers of all the types of cancers! Bulgur also helps to prevent diabetes and is very high in fiber, meaning it can help prevent and treat many digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and diverticular disease.

Even for those people who are very mindful and careful about what they eat, the fact is that in today's world we are all constantly bombarded with and exposed to dangerous chemicals, from the air we breathe and the water we drink to chemicals in and on our food. Two particularly harmful chemicals we’re all exposed to are nitrates and nitrites.

Nitrates are found naturally in many vegetables such as beets, celery, and lettuce. Nitrites are common additives in processed foods, particularly in meat products such as sandwich meat and other packaged meat products. These two compounds in and of themselves aren't harmful, but when they’re taken in as chemical additives from the food you’re eating, such as sandwich meat, your body converts them into similar compounds that are called nitrosamines.

Nitrosamines are strongly linked with the development of cancer. Though completely avoiding exposure to these two compounds in today's highly processed society is impossible, a diet that contains regular consumption of bulgur can help to decrease the dangerous and harmful effects of these compounds. This is because bulgur has ferulic acid, which helps to prevent these two compounds from being converted into the dangerous nitrosamines. As a result, bulgur is a good food to consume to help prevent the incidence of cancer.

Bulgur is also a good source of lignans, which have some great antioxidant abilities. They help protect our cells from damage done by harmful free radicals, damage leading to many diseases and cancer. Lignans not only help protect cells from damage, but also minimize cancer-causing changes in the cell once free radical damage has occurred, making the incidence of cancer less likely. Lignans make bulgur that much more an anti-cancer food.

Harmful free radicals not only lead to the development of cancer, they can also cause damage to the lining of our blood vessels, which leads to the development of heart disease. The lignans and other antioxidant compounds found in bulgur help protect the heart by protecting the blood vessels from damage done by the harmful free radicals. Futhermore, the lignans help maintain healthy levels of the heart-friendly HDL cholesterol while preventing free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol and turning it into the unhealthy and harmful LDL cholesterol. The LDL cholesterol is stickier and adheres to the walls of arteries, a major contributing factor to the development of heart disease.

Because bulgur is high in fiber, it is considered a low glycemic grain. This makes bulgur a great grain choice for diabetics who especially need to keep their blood sugar levels steady. Studies are also showing that maintaining steady blood sugar levels helps to decrease the chance of getting heart disease. A high fiber diet is essential to good health because it assists in lowering cholesterol levels, reduces the chance of developing cancer and diabetes, contributes in the prevention and treatment of many digestive problems, and helps in obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight. Bulgur is high in insoluble fiber, which is the type of fiber that doesn't break down in the body, but stays in the intestine and soaks up water, thereby making stools bulkier, larger, and easier to pass. This action helps to prevent constipation, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, and other digestive issues.

Bulgur is very high in many minerals including iron, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and magnesium. Because it's a great source of naturally occurring iron, bulgur is a great whole food choice for women who have issues with anemia. Manganese is essential for healthy bones, nerves, and reproduction, while selenium is important in protecting the heart and immune system. Lastly, many people today are deficient in magnesium, which is important for a long list of things in our body, including keeping the heart beating, healthy nerve function, muscle contraction, and bone formation. Eating foods high in magnesium is important, especially for those who eat many high-calcium foods and are likely to have an unhealthy calcium to magnesium ratio, which can lead to calcification of the joints and other degenerative conditions.

Bulgur and Grape Salad with Walnuts and Currants
  • 1 cup medium-grind bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in halves or quarters, depending on size, or Champagne grapes
  • 1 cup small-diced celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs. dried currants
  • 3 Tbs. walnut oil, preferably roasted
  • 3 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. minced shallot
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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