5 Nutritional Benefits of Freekeh

Freekeh is a lesser-known whole grain compared to popular options like wheat and oats.

It is produced by harvesting and then roasting fresh green durum wheat. It offers some beneficial nutritional properties and many people enjoy its nutty and earthy taste.

But what nutritional benefits does it have?

This article explores the nutritional attributes of freekeh.

All nutritional data referenced is sourced from the Trustwell nutrition database, accessed via Cronometer (1).

A pile of freekeh.

1) Freekeh Is a Rich Source of Fiber

Freekeh is among the most fiber-dense whole grains, containing about 10% fiber by weight.

A quarter-cup serving of dry freekeh (approximately 40 grams) provides 4 grams of fiber, contributing approximately 14% of the recommended daily value (1, 2).

Fiber offers numerous health benefits, including:

  1. Slowing the glycemic (blood sugar) response after meals, thereby improving blood sugar levels (3).
  2. Acting as a prebiotic and feeding beneficial gut bacteria, known as the microbiome (4).
  3. Promoting regular bowel movements and lowering the risk of constipation (5).
  4. Lowering LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, which are considered to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (6).
  5. Binding and removing potential carcinogens and toxins in the digestive tract (7, 8).
Key Point: Freekeh provides a large quantity of fiber, which offers several health benefits.

2) Provides B Vitamins

Freekeh provides good quantities of B vitamins, including niacin (B3), vitamin B6, and folate.

A 40-gram serving of freekeh offers more than 10% of the daily value for each of these essential nutrients (1, 2).

B vitamins play crucial roles in energy production and synthesizing DNA and RNA (9).

Folate, specifically, is a vital nutrient for supporting a healthy pregnancy. Adequate levels of folate help to prevent pregnancy complications and birth defects such as neural tube defects (10, 11).

Key Point: Freekeh is notably high in vitamins B3, B6, and folate.

3) High In Protein

Freekeh boasts a significant protein content, offering more protein per gram than most other whole grains.

A 40-gram, quarter-cup serving of dry freekeh provides 6 grams of dietary protein (1, 2).

Consuming enough protein is important for numerous reasons:

  • It supports muscle growth, recovery, and maintenance through muscle-protein synthesis (12).
  • Protein is essential for maintaining bone health and protecting against the loss of bone mass density (13).
  • Proteins are necessary for the optimal function of various enzymes and hormones (14).
  • Immune cell production (and the overall immune system) requires sufficient protein intake (15).
Key Point: Freekeh is relatively high in protein, particularly compared to other grains.

4) Freekeh Is Mineral-Rich

Freekeh is an excellent source of several essential minerals, particularly:

  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus

Among these minerals, freekeh has a notably substantial phosphorus content.

A 40-gram, quarter cup serving of dry freekeh provides 70% of the daily value for manganese (1, 2).

Manganese plays a key role in the body’s antioxidant system. Ensuring a sufficient, but not excessive, intake can help to prevent oxidative stress, which is linked to the development of various chronic diseases (16).

Key Point: Freekeh is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.

5) Contains the Antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Research indicates that freekeh contains “considerably large amounts” of lutein and zeaxanthin compared to common wheat varieties (17).

This higher concentration may be attributed to freekeh being made from fresh, green wheat, and harvested and roasted at an early stage when it is fresher and lutein and zeaxanthin levels are higher.

Lutein and zeaxanthin have antioxidant properties and play a key role in vision and supporting overall eye health (18).

Key Point: Freekeh contains higher levels of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin compared to typical wheat products.

Full Nutrition Facts

The tables below present the complete nutritional values of freekeh per 40-gram quarter-cup serving, based on dry weight.

The data is sourced from the Trustwell nutrition database (1).

% daily values have been calculated using this data in conjunction with the FDA’s recommended daily values (2).

NutrientAmount% Daily Value
Calories130 kcal
Carbohydrates28.0 g10.2%
Fiber4.0 g14.3%
Sugars0 g
Fat1.0 g1.3%
Protein6.0 g12.0%
Table 1: The basic nutritional composition of freekeh (dry weight) per 40-gram, quarter-cup serving


VitaminAmount% Daily Value
Vitamin B3 (niacin)3 mg18.8%
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)0.40 mg8.0%
Vitamin B60.20 mg11.8%
Folate40 mcg10.0%
Table 2: Vitamin composition of freekeh (dry weight) per 40-gram, quarter-cup serving


MineralAmount% Daily Value
Calcium20 mg1.5%
Iron3.60 mg20%
Magnesium40.0 mg9.5%
Manganese1.60 mg69.6%
Phosphorus150 mg12.0%
Potassium210 mg4.5%
Zinc1.20 mg10.9%
Table 3: Mineral composition of freekeh (dry weight) per 40-gram, quarter-cup serving

Note: These nutritional values present the vitamin and mineral content of freekeh as sourced from the Trustwell nutrition database.

The USDA’s FoodData Central database is widely recognized as hosting the most comprehensive nutritional data. However, at present, there is no standard entry for freekeh in the USDA database. It is likely that freekeh contains additional vitamins and minerals not included in the Trustwell database values, such as vitamin E.

Key Point: Freekeh is a fiber and protein-rich grain that provides particularly high levels of manganese and B vitamins.

How Does Freekeh Compare To Other Whole Grains?

For those curious about how freekeh stacks up nutritionally against other whole grains, the table below compares freekeh, brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat flour. The data presented are per 100 grams in their raw form for each grain.

Nutritional information for freekeh is sourced from the Trustwell database, while data for the other grains is sourced from the USDA’s FoodData Central (1, 19, 20, 21).

NutrientBrown riceFreekehOatsWhole wheat flour
Calories366 kcal325 kcal379 kcal340 kcal
Carbohydrates76.7 g70.0 g67.7 g72.0 g
Fiber4.3 g10.0 g10.1 g10.7 g
Sugars0 g0 g0.99 g0.41 g
Fat3.31 g2.5 g6.52 g2.5 g
Protein7.25 g15.0 g13.15 g13.2 g
Table 4: A nutritional comparison showing how freekeh compares nutritionally to brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat flour per 100 grams raw

As the table shows, freekeh has fewer calories compared to brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat flour.

It boasts a similar fiber content to wholegrain oats and whole-wheat flour, and provides more than double the protein found in brown rice.

Freekeh’s protein content is approximately just over 10% higher than that of oats and whole-wheat flour.

For further details on the nutritional profiles of various whole grains, please refer to this guide:

22 Types of Whole Grains and Their Nutritional Values

Key Point: Freekeh contains more protein than other whole grains for fewer calories. It has a similar fiber provision to whole wheat and oats.

Does Freekeh Have Any Downsides?

Like all foods, freekeh may have some drawbacks that depend on individual context.


Since freekeh is derived from green durum wheat, it contains gluten.

Therefore, freekeh is unsuitable for individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity (22).

Gluten consumption can trigger an inflammatory response in individuals with celiac disease, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea (23).

Preparation Time

Whole freekeh typically requires a longer cooking time compared to some other whole-grain foods.

For example, whole freekeh may take around 40 minutes to cook, while foods like wholegrain pasta cook in 10-15 minutes.

Depending on the available time an individual has, this might be viewed as a drawback of freekeh.

Note: this preparation issue doesn’t apply to cracked freekeh.

Cracked Freekeh

Cracked freekeh is also available and consists of roasted freekeh cracked into smaller pieces.

It has a much faster cooking time, taking approximately 15-20 minutes to cook on the hob.

Key Point: Despite its nutritional benefits, freekeh has potential downsides such as its gluten content, making it unsuitable for those with celiac disease, and its longer cooking time compared to cooking some other grain-based foods.

How To Use Freekeh

Freekeh is a versatile food and it can be used in various ways:

Here are five simple ways to use it.

  • Cous cous/rice substitute: It is possible to use freekeh as an alternative to cous cous or rice in recipes.
  • Curries, soups, and stews: Freekeh can add some extra fiber and protein to dishes like curries, soups, and stews. It absorbs liquids well so will take on the flavor of the dish.
  • Porridge: You can make porridge with freekeh in the same way as you would with oats. It develops a similar texture but with a distinct taste. Flavor freekeh porridge with any ingredients of choice, such as cocoa, fruit, nuts, or sweeteners.
  • Salads: Add some freekeh to a salad to bulk up its nutritional properties and add more carbohydrates and protein.
  • Side dish: Serve freekeh alongside a main dish and vegetables. For some extra flavor, add some herbs or spices choice to the freekeh, such as salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and so on.

Final Thoughts

Despite being less-known than common grains, freekeh is a nutritious choice, offering high fiber and protein for fewer calories than many other grains.

With its flavorful taste and versatility in the kitchen, freekeh is worth trying, especially as a replacement for refined grains in the diet.


  1. https://support.cronometer.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018239472-Data-Sources#:~:text=Trustwell%20database%20provides%20data%20for,from%20the%20product%20nutrition%20labels.
  2. https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/daily-value-new-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels
  3. https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/nutrition/articles/10.3389/fnut.2023.1253312/full
  4. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/interactions-between-dietary-fibre-and-the-gut-microbiota/0BEF28B809F38D02AC0B1D4E4990210C
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002916523036146
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9925120/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30336163/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3025886/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35933667/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12606886/
  11. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002092.htm
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20048505/
  13. https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/health-professionals/prevention/nutrition/protein-and-other-nutrients
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555990/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32649859/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5907490/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705341/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30231532/
  19. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2512380/nutrients
  20. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1101825/nutrients
  21. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168893/nutrients
  22. https://www.beyondceliac.org/gluten-free-diet/is-it-gluten-free/freekeh/
  23. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes
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Michael Joseph, MSc

Michael works as a nutrition educator in a community setting and holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. He believes in providing reliable and objective nutritional information to allow informed decisions.