Semolina is a coarse flour made from durum wheat, a hard type of wheat.
When ground into flour, durum wheat is known as semolina and is used worldwide in bread, pasta, and porridge. This flour is darker and more golden in color than all-purpose flour. It has a mild, earthy aroma.
Along with its culinary uses, semolina also benefits weight management, heart health, and digestive systems.
This article reviews semolina’s nutrition, benefits, uses, and downsides.
Semolina flour can be enriched, meaning that food manufacturers re-add nutrients lost during the durum wheat grain processing. Enriched semolina contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals than unenriched alternatives.
A 1/3-cup (56-gram) serving of uncooked, enriched semolina provides:
- Calories: 198 calories
- Carbs: 40 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Fiber: 7% of your daily need
- Thiamine: 41% of your daily need
- Folate: 36% of your daily need
- Riboflavin: 29% of your daily need
- Iron: 13% of your daily need
- Magnesium: 8% of your daily need
Semolina is high in protein and fiber, which slow digestion and increase feelings of fullness between meals.
It’s also high in B vitamins like thiamine and folate, which have many important roles in your body, including helping convert food into energy.
Additionally, semolina is a good source of iron and magnesium. These minerals support red blood cell production, heart health, and blood sugar control.
Summary: Enriched semolina flour is nutritious and provides high levels of various B vitamins, iron, protein, and fiber.
Semolina may promote weight loss
Semolina is high in several nutrients that may support weight loss.
For starters, a 1/3 cup (56 grams) of uncooked, enriched semolina provides 7% of the recommended daily intake for fiber — a nutrient that many diets lack. Studies associate a fiber-rich diet with weight loss and lower body weight.
It can reduce feelings of hunger and prevent future weight gain. For example, a study in 252 women found that every 1-gram increase in dietary fiber per day resulted in weight loss of 0.5 pounds (0.25 kg) over 20 months.
Semolina is also rich in protein, with 1/3 cup (56 grams) of uncooked semolina providing over 7 grams.
Increasing protein in your diet has been shown to promote weight loss. For example, a review of 24 studies noted that a high-protein diet — compared to a standard-protein diet — resulted in 1.7 pounds (0.79 kg) greater weight loss.
Increasing protein in your diet may also help reduce hunger, preserve muscle mass during weight loss, increase fat loss, and improve body composition.
Summary: Foods rich in protein and fiber — like semolina — can increase feelings of fullness and reduce hunger. In turn, this may promote weight loss.
Semolina supports heart health
A fiber-rich diet may reduce your risk of heart disease. A review of 31 studies found that people with the highest fiber intake may have up to a 24% reduced risk of heart disease compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.
Fiber may support heart health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, blood pressure, and overall inflammation. A 3-week study observed that eating 23 grams of fiber daily from whole grains like semolina reduced LDL cholesterol by 5%.
Furthermore, semolina contains other heart-healthy nutrients like folate and magnesium. Diets rich in these nutrients help support heart health.
A study of over 58,000 people found that the highest intake of folate — compared to the lowest intake — was associated with a 38% reduced risk of heart disease.
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What’s more, studies indicate that magnesium-rich diets support overall heart health. For example, a study of over one million people showed that a 100 mg daily increase in dietary magnesium reduced heart failure risk by 22% and stroke risk by 7%.
Summary: Semolina is rich in nutrients like fiber, folate, and magnesium — all of which protect your heart and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Semolina may improve blood sugar control
Semolina may improve blood sugar control due to its high magnesium and dietary fiber levels. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is important in reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Magnesium may improve blood sugar control by increasing cells’ response to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Magnesium-rich diets have been associated with up to a 14% reduced risk of diabetes in some studies.
Semolina is also rich in fiber, a nutrient essential for blood sugar control. Fiber slows the absorption of carbs into your bloodstream, helping control blood sugar spikes after a meal. It can also lower fasting blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Additionally, fiber-rich diets may reduce hemoglobin A1c levels — an average blood sugar reading over 3 months — in people with diabetes by up to 0.5%.
Summary: Semolina is a great source of magnesium and fiber — two nutrients that may improve blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Semolina is rich in iron
Iron is an essential mineral that plays many roles in your body.
Some functions of iron include:
- transporting oxygen through your blood
- DNA synthesis
- growth and development
- immune system support
Semolina is an excellent source of iron, with a 1/3 cup (56 grams) of uncooked, enriched semolina providing 13% of the recommended daily intake for this nutrient.
Without enough dietary iron, your body cannot produce enough red blood cells. As a result, a condition called iron-deficiency anemia may develop.
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Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency worldwide. Increasing your intake of iron-rich foods may lower your risk of deficiency and subsequent anemia.
However, semolina — like other plants — contains non-heme iron, which is not absorbed as well as the heme iron found in animal products like meat, poultry, and fish.
Fortunately, adding foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, berries, and tomatoes, to semolina meals can help increase non-heme iron absorption.
Summary: Semolina is a good source of non-heme iron. Iron is essential for transporting oxygen, preventing anemia, and supporting growth and development.
Semolina supports digestive health
Improved digestion is one of the many health benefits of dietary fiber. A 1/3-cup (56-gram) serving of uncooked, enriched semolina flour packs over 2 grams of fiber — or 7% of the recommended daily intake for this nutrient.
Dietary fiber provides many benefits for your digestive system. For example, it stimulates the growth of friendly gut bacteria. A healthy balance of gut bacteria affects many areas of health like optimal digestion, immune health, and metabolism.
Additionally, fiber intake promotes regular bowel movements and may help treat constipation. For instance, a two-week study found that people who ate 5 grams of additional whole-grain fiber daily had improvements in constipation and less bloating.
Summary: The high fiber content of semolina supports digestion by stimulating the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and promoting regular bowel movements.
Uses of semolina
Semolina is rich in gluten — a protein that provides structure to many types of bread, pasta, and other baked goods. The tough and stretchy texture of semolina makes it one of the best flour for making pasta.
Here are a few other ways to use semolina:
- Add a few teaspoons to the bread dough for a crusty texture.
- Mix it with boiling milk, honey, and vanilla extract for a tasty dessert pudding or hot cereal.
- Swap regular flour with semolina to add extra crispness to dough recipes.
- Use it to thicken a stew or sauce.
- Sprinkle it over potatoes before roasting for additional crunch.
You can find semolina in many grocery stores besides the all-purpose flour and specialty grains.
Semolina flour may go rancid if left open, so storing semolina in your refrigerator in an air-tight container is best.
Summary: Semolina’s coarse and stretchy texture makes it an ideal type of flour for bread, pasta, and more.
Health considerations of semolina
There are some factors to consider before adding semolina to your diet.
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Semolina is high in gluten — a protein that can be harmful to people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease affects roughly 1.4% of the population worldwide.
It’s thought that 0.5–13% of individuals may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Those with celiac disease or NCGS should avoid eating gluten-containing foods like semolina.
Additionally, since semolina is made by grinding durum wheat, it can harm individuals with a wheat allergy.
Summary: Semolina is a gluten-containing grain, which is unsuitable for people with certain gluten disorders or wheat allergies.
Semolina is flour made from ground durum wheat. It’s rich in protein, fiber, and B vitamins and may support weight loss, heart health, and digestion.
Most people can enjoy semolina without issue, but a small percentage may not tolerate it due to its gluten or wheat content.
If you can tolerate it, try adding semolina to your diet. Its high protein content improves the structure and texture of recipes like pasta and bread.