Couscous Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 07/04/22 •  12 min read
couscous benefits and side effects

What are couscous benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are couscous pros and cons and how buying it will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on couscous benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about couscous benefits and side effects. This will include couscous benefits for your health and potential risks, couscous water footprint and couscous carbon footprint, couscous sustainability, if couscous is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if couscous is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about couscous benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Couscous Benefits And Side Effects

HEALTH

Energy: couscous benefits may include aided digestion, increase energy, prevent bacterial and viral infections, promote healthy metabolism, thyroid health | couscous side effects may include blood sugar spikes

Longevity: couscous benefits may include boost immunity, decrease inflammation, detoxification, fight and prevent cancer, heart health, lower the risk of heart disease, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, repair damaged cells

Appearance: couscous benefits may include build muscle, weight loss, wound healing

Couscous is…

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: low, 1,827 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of wheat / 219 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of wheat, the cultivation of durum generates greater yield than other wheats in areas of low precipitation, durum wheat is adapted to more diverse environments than bread wheat, and it performs well in semiarid regions

Carbon footprint: low, 1.8 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of cereals, a car driving equivalent of 4.25 miles or 6.75 kilometers

Destruction: low, couscous production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Couscous is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, couscous production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, couscous production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from couscous production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Couscous is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Couscous…

Where does most couscous come from?

Couscous is originally a product of North Africa. Couscous is a staple food throughout Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, and Libya. Canada is the world’s leading semolina exporter.

Is couscous nutritious?

Couscous is high in carbohydrates, protein and fiber with very little fat and no salt and contains some calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, as well as some of the B vitamins and vitamin E.

couscous is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is couscous alkaline or acidic?

Couscous is acidic.

What is the pH level of couscous?

Couscous and all semolina have a 5.5 pH level, once digested.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

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couscous is not gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is couscous gluten free?

No, couscous is not gluten free. Couscous contains gluten. Couscous is a dish of small, steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina, therefore making it a glutinous food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

couscous contains a common food allergen: wheat.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is couscous a common food allergen?

Yes, couscous is a common food allergen: wheat. Many people experience allergic reactions to couscous.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

couscous has a low water footprint. couscous benefits include not requiring too much energy or emitting pollution.

water footprints of food and products

Does couscous have a high or low water footprint?

Couscous has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of couscous?

It takes 1,827 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of wheat / 219 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of wheat.

The cultivation of durum generates greater yield than other wheats in areas of low precipitation. Durum wheat is adapted to more diverse environments than bread wheat and it performs well in semiarid regions.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

couscous has a low carbon footprint. couscous benefits include not requiring too much energy or emitting pollution.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does couscous have a high or low carbon footprint? Couscous has a low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of couscous? It takes around 1.8 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of cereals, a car driving equivalent of 4.25 miles or 6.75 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

couscous is sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is couscous eco friendly? Is couscous sustainable?

Couscous production is relatively sustainable. There is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

couscous is vegan. couscous benefits include not killing, harming or using animals.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is couscous vegan?

Yes, couscous is vegan. Couscous is a dish made from small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina and not animal products or byproducts, therefore making it a vegan food. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

couscous is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is couscous a product that has known labor issues?

At this time, there are no known specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding durum wheat farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Couscous may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

This post was all about couscous benefits and side effects.

Sources:

Couscous, cooked – FoodData Central

Development and characterization of couscous-like product

The Effect of Buckwheat and Couscous on Satiety and Food Intake in Young Adults

Adriane Marie

Self-proclaimed Grocery Guru, Material Maven and all around Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful and use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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