Couscous and brown rice are both grains, so they're equally healthy...right? Wrong! Couscous and brown rice share similarities in the way that they're prepared and used so you can pretty much cook with one or the other and end up with a pretty decent meal. However, how do these two pantry staples fare according to nutritional value?

When it comes to the battle of quinoa vs brown rice, the former takes the crown, but what about couscous vs rice? Which healthy grain really holds the title as the ultimate healthy grain?

Before we delve into the nitty gritty, let's take a page from Barefoot Contessa (my absolute favorite Food Network chef) and take things back to the basics. 

What Is Couscous?

vegetable, salad, spinach, pepper
Claire Couron

What exactly is couscous, anyway? Contrary to popular belief, couscous is a pasta, not a grain. With its rice-like appearance, it's easy to understand where the misconception comes from. Couscous is a traditional staple of North African cuisine, made from a mix of semolina, wheat flour, and water. The are various types of couscous; Moroccan, Jerusalem, Lebanese, and Israeli couscous (my personal favorite). Cook is briefly in a pot of boiling water or vegetable stock, serve it plain or jazz it up with some fun toppings, and you're ready to dig in.

#SpoonTip: Couscous isn't limited to just sides and main dishes. Spruce up your soup or salad with a scant cup of couscous like in this yummy tomato and couscous soup recipe. You can thank me later. 

What Is Brown Rice?

vegetable, broccoli, rice, pepper, carrot
Katherine Baker

Meanwhile, brown rice is a whole grain made by removing only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel, which is the least damaging to its nutritional value. In layman's terms, brown rice is the purest form of rice. It's nuttier and chewier than traditional white rice. Of all the many varieties of rice, brown rice is one of the healthiest.

#SpoonTip: Make a deconstructed vegan sushi bowl by combining brown rice and classic sushi vegetables like carrot and asparagus for a satisfying Asian-inspired meal. 

Nutrition Comparison

Calorie-wise, couscous comes out on top. One cup of prepared couscous has 176 calories, compared to 216 calories in brown rice. Couscous also contains 2 grams of fiber per cup and 6 grams of protein. Brown rice, on the other hand, contains 3.5 and 5 grams, respectively. Fiber is vital for making you feeling full and satisfied, and protein is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood

Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Couscous lacks the variety of nutrients found in whole grains like brown rice. Brown rice as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin.

Brown rice wins as the healthier of two, but that doesn't mean enjoying a nice warm bowl of couscous is automatically out of the question. Moderation is key. Take my advice, and simply let your tastebuds decide. If you enjoy couscous, then eat that. If your go-to is brown rice, that's okay too. Life is so much easier when you let your stomach do the talking.