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Health benefits of rice

Nutrition

Health benefits of rice

Ava Morris August 13, 2018
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  • Types of rice
  • Chemical composition of rice
  • Benefits of rice
  • How to choose the healthiest rice

Rice and its health benefits is probably the most controversial of all grains. It has the highest glycemic index and for this reason, it is not recommended to include too much rice in diet for healthy people and especially for those with diabetes. However, all types of rice are different.

There is brown rice, wild rice and, of course, less healthy and cheaper types of rice. What are health benefits of rice? How to choose the best rice? And what are contraindications?

Types of rice

Rice was brought to our culture from the East where people have been growing it for centuries. Rice in Eastern countries is staple food but in Western countries rice gives way to potatoes and pasta. However, rice is the most popular of all grains. We can make rice puddings, salads and numerous side-dishes and main dishes. Rice is Italian risotto, Tatar pilaf, Russian kasha with various fillings, Japanese sushi and Thai biryani.

Today we know more than 20 types of rice. They usually differ in the size of the grain – long-grain, medium-grain and round rice.

Rice also differs by rice processing methods – polished, parboiled and unpolished. The healthiest is brown unpolished rice as it has its rich in fiber and vitamins bran. Parboiled rice is characterized by milk-brownish color, it preserves most of its nutrients but it is still partly processed due to which you can make it much quicker than brown rice. And the softest rice is white polished rice which has less useful nutrients.

Polished rice is classified into Basmati and Jasmine. These are the most valuable types of rice. They are very fragrant varieties of rice and the grains hold shape very well.

Rice for sushi comes in different qualities – when cooked, it becomes sticky but still retains its shape.

Wild and black rice is a true treasure as it contains a lot of useful nutrients. Both types of rice are black. Wild rice is also called Aquatica and it is a North-American relative of common rice. People have started gathering and eating eat just recently. It contains an untold number of minerals. It is good for making salads, soups, hot and cold appetizers. You will have to cook it about an hour as it has hard hull. Wild rice is a rich source of insoluble fiber.

Black rice is also still rather exotic for us. It is grown in Tibet. Black rice contains as twice as much protein than white species of rice. It takes less time to cook it than wiled rice – about 40 minutes. Black rice has a nice nutty taste.

Broken rice is typically used for making rice flour. Rice flour is good for baby food. It also gives a delicate creamy taste to meat and fish. In Asian cuisine, rice noodles are very popular and they make it with rice flour as well.

Chemical composition of rice

Each grain of rice is a rich source of carbohydrates, there are 60-80% of carbs in rice depending on species. Rice also contains about 7% of protein and only 0.5-2% of fats. The caloric value of rice is 285 calories in 100 grams. Rice is a product with high glycemic index but again it depends on rice variety. GI of white rice is 90 but GI of Basmati rice is 50 and of wild and black rice is 35. Rice also has a lot of starch – about 50% – which means it is nourishing but well digestible.

Any type of rice contains BVitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9), Vitamin A, E, Vitamin H, and Vitamin PP. B Vitamins regulate functions of the nervous system and in combination with carotene they have a favorable effect on skin, hair and nails. In addition to vitamins, rice is also a source of many minerals such as aluminum, borum, vanadium, iron, iodine, potassium, calcium, cobalt, silicon,  magnesium, manganese, copper, molybdenum, sodium, nickel, selenium, sulfur, fluorine, phosphorous, chlorine, choline, chromium, and zinc. Thanks to such variety of macro- and micro-elements, rice enables better digestion and metabolism.

Rice is gluten-free which means it does not cause any allergic reaction. This fact makes rice unique unlike all the other grains that contain gluten.

Benefits of rice

It is difficult to overestimate the benefits of rice. Being a rich source of various minerals and vitamins, rice can be and should be included in the diet since childhood. Rice is a key ingredient in many diets as it is low-calorie food. Brown rice and wild black rice will give invaluable benefits for your health. On the other hand, sticky rice and rice porridge cooked with water is a good remedy for diarrhea or intoxication. Rice is an excellent absorbent. However, many people try to avoid rice because of its high glycemic index. First of all, only white polished rice has a high glycemic index. Besides when you combine it with some dairy ingredient, its index drops from 90 to 75. Glycemic index of unpolished and wild rice does not exceed permissible levels. If you are not in the risk group and do not suffer diabetes, you an eat rice as much and as often as you want.

What benefits does it have for your body?

  • Rice is a source of proteins, carbohydrates and minerals but it does not contain much fats which means rice is perfect food to satisfy one’s hunger without adding additional centimeters to the waits. Rice is a dietary product.
  • Rice is a source of minerals that help your body to get rid of excess fluids and metabolic products.
  • Rice contains B Vitamins which strengthens the nervous system, makes your skin, nails, hair and teeth look better and healthier.
  • There are essential and nonessential amino-acids in rice. They are indispensable for the synthesis of new cells.
  • Balanced amount of vitamins and minerals in rice improves brain functions and memory.
  • Aminobutyric acid regulates arterial pressure and improves circulation.
  • Rice has excellent absorbing properties, it regulates digestive tract, strengthens intestinal walls and absorbs many waste products from food accelerating excretion of toxins. For this reason, after intoxication rice is a widely recommended remedy.
  • Rice has a diuretic action and is useful for people with kidney and bladder diseases.
  • Rice also has antiseptic and antipyretic action. This diaphoretic food with antitoxic  effect is recommended for people with flu, tonsillitis and pneumonia.

This being said, rice is not so harmless. The reason is not only in carbohydrates and sugars. For example, rice brans contain phytic acid which impairs the absorption of iron and calcium. It is not recommended to overuse unpolished rice in your diet. Besides, rice can cause constipation.

How to choose healthy rice?

Now we know that there are different types of rice and different quality of rice. The following tips will help you to choose the healthiest rice.

  • The healthiest rice is the youngest rice. The younger the grain, the softer and more fragrant it is. Pay attention to the date of manufacture and on the type of rice. For example, brown rice should be used within 6-12 months from the date of manufacture and Basmati is good when it is 10-12 months. Withing this period Basmati gains its best cooking and eating properties.
  • Unpolished rice is called cargo and it should be indicated on the package. Cargo can be brown, red and black. This is a source of eight essential amino-acids, B Vitamins, selenium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, iodine and gamma oryzanol. The latter prevents proliferation of cancer cells.
  • The healthiest species of rice are red and black cargo. They contain 7 times more iron and Vitamin B1, 6 times more calcium, 5 times more potassium and 4 times more manganese than white polished rice. Black and red color indicate that these types of rice contain natural antioxodants strengthening immunity and slowing down the aging processes.
  • If cargo is not to your taste or it is not digested well by your sensitive intestinal tract, then choose parboiled rice. After pre-treatment with steam, 80% of all vitamins and micro-elements retain inside the grain and only after that rice is polished. Parboiled rice has a greater taste than brown rice, it does not take much time to cook it but it has as much fiber and vitamins as in white polished rice.