Though not as well-known as cereal grains like quinoa, freekeh packs a punch when it comes to both flavor and nutrition.
In addition to being an excellent source of protein, fiber, and manganese, freekeh is incredibly versatile and can be added to many different recipes.
Plus, it’s easy to prepare and boasts a rich, nutty flavor that sets it apart from other whole grains.
This article reviews the nutrition, benefits, and potential downsides of freekeh, and presents a few simple ways to add it to your diet.
Freekeh is a type of cereal grain. It’s made by harvesting green durum wheat before the grains are fully ripe, while the seeds are still tender and green (1).
The kernels are then roasted and rubbed, giving them a distinct smoky, nutty flavor. They’re usually cracked into smaller pieces, which improves the texture and makes them cook faster.
Freekeh is considered a culinary staple in North Africa. It’s also often featured in the cuisines of Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
It’s commonly prepared with onions, tomatoes, and spices and served alongside meat, poultry, or legumes in a variety of traditional dishes.
For example, firik pilavi is a type of Turkish pilaf that pairs freekeh with bulgur, onions, chickpeas, and olive oil. Similarly, freeket lahma is a dish from Jordan that combines cooked freekeh with lamb shanks.
Freekeh is a cereal grain made by roasting and rubbing green durum wheat. It’s featured in many types of cuisine and is often paired with meat, poultry, or legumes.
Freekeh is a great source of several nutrients, including fiber, manganese, and phosphorus.
With around 5 grams of protein per serving, it can also bump up your intake of protein to help round out your diet (
A 1/4-cup (40-gram) serving of uncooked freekeh contains the following nutrients (
- Calories: 141
- Carbs: 24 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Fiber: 4.5 grams
- Manganese: 52% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Phosphorus: 16% of the DV
- Niacin: 18% of the DV
- Magnesium: 13% of the DV
- Copper: 24% of the DV
- Zinc: 15% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
Freekeh is especially high in manganese, a mineral involved in bone formation and immune health (
It also contains phosphorus, which is a key component of the bones and teeth. It’s also required for energy production (
Plus, it’s a good source of magnesium. This essential micronutrient plays a central role in regulating blood sugar and blood pressure levels. It also helps maintain the function of the nerves and muscles (
Freekeh is rich in fiber and contains a good amount of protein in each serving. It’s also high in other nutrients, including manganese, phosphorus, niacin, and magnesium.
Freekeh is rich in a variety of nutrients and may offer several benefits.
May enhance digestion
Freekeh is a great source of fiber, packing 4.5 grams into a single 1/4-cup (40-gram) serving (
Fiber is an important nutrient involved in many aspects of health, including digestion.
In particular, studies show that fiber could increase regularity and improve stool consistency in people with constipation (
What’s more, eating more fiber-rich foods like freekeh may help protect against other conditions like hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer (
Could promote heart health
Freekeh contains several micronutrients that could benefit heart health.
For starters, it’s loaded with manganese, a micronutrient that acts as an antioxidant. Thus, it may reduce levels of inflammation, which can promote the development of heart disease (
Each 1/4-cup (40-gram) serving also provides about 13% of the DV for magnesium, another important mineral that can protect against heart disease (
It’s also a good source of fiber. This nutrient can help lower cholesterol levels and prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries (
Not only that, but regularly eating whole grains, including freekeh, may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease and certain risk factors for this condition, such as high blood pressure and inflammation (
May support weight management
Freekeh delivers a hearty dose of protein and fiber in each serving. Both these nutrients can help you reach and maintain a moderate weight.
Research suggests that protein may support weight loss by temporarily boosting metabolism and altering levels of specific hormones that affect your hunger (
Additionally, fiber moves slowly through the digestive tract. As a result, it can help keep you feeling full between meals (
According to some research, increasing your intake of fiber could promote weight loss, even without making any other changes to your diet (
Furthermore, a study in nearly 45,000 children and adults found that eating more whole grains was linked to greater reductions in body mass index (BMI) and belly fat (
Freekeh is rich in several nutrients that could enhance digestion, improve heart health, and support weight loss and management.
Though freekeh may be associated with several potential benefits, there are a few downsides to consider as well.
For starters, it contains gluten, a type of protein found in wheat products and other grains like barley and rye. For this reason, those with celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten should avoid it (
Because it’s derived from wheat, freekeh is also not suitable for those with a wheat allergy or gluten ataxia, which is an autoimmune disorder that can cause brain damage if gluten is consumed (
Freekeh may not suit certain diet patterns, including the paleo diet, which excludes most types of grains. It’s also unlikely to fit into very low carb diets like the ketogenic diet, as it contains more carbohydrates than these diets typically permit (
Lastly, it’s worth noting that if you aren’t used to eating much fiber, you may experience bloating, cramps, or diarrhea after eating freekeh. As such, it may be best to gradually increase your fiber intake (
Because freekeh is derived from wheat and contains gluten, it should be avoided by those following a gluten-free or wheat-free diet. Additionally, it may not be suitable for certain diet patterns, including paleo and ketogenic diets.
Freekeh is versatile and easy to prepare.
To make freekeh, simply add 3 cups (710 mL) of water to a pot with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Next, add 1 cup (160 grams) of cracked freekeh, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low.
Simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let it stand covered for 5–10 minutes before serving.
Note that wholegrain freekeh takes longer to cook and may require more water.
Cooked freekeh has a rich, nutty flavor that works well in soups, salads, and pilafs.
You can easily use it in place of other grains in your favorite recipes, paired with whole or ground spices, or served alongside vegetables or chicken.
Here are a few tasty recipes you can try at home to add this healthy grain to your diet:
- Freekeh, chickpea, and herb salad
- Chicken freekeh skillet with warm feta-lemon relish
- Roasted cauliflower, freekeh, and garlicky tahini sauce
Freekeh is easy to prepare and can be used in a variety of recipes. It makes an excellent addition to soups, salads, and pilafs and can be used in place of other grains in your diet.
Freekeh is a type of whole grain made from green durum wheat.
Not only is it a staple in many types of cuisines, but it’s also highly nutritious and could benefit digestive health, heart health, and weight management.
Plus, it’s easy to prepare, can be used in place of other grains in your diet, and is a great addition to a variety of recipes.
However, keep in mind that freekeh is made from wheat and contains gluten, so it may not be suitable for everyone. It’s also unlikely to fit into certain diet patterns, such as paleo or ketogenic diets.
Just one thing
Try this today: Freekeh goes great with toasted pine nuts, cooked chickpeas, and feta. I also love adding it to grain salads mixed with fresh veggies like red onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes, enjoyed with an olive oil vinaigrette drizzled on top.