Why rice isn't really bad for you

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Published: Tue 19 May 2020, 2:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 May 2020, 9:29 AM

Rice is one of the staple diets in many cuisines. It supplies as much as half of the daily calories to half of the world's population. No wonder then that in Asian countries, such as Thailand, rice is so highly valued that the translation of the word "to eat" literally means "to eat rice."
There are various types of rice available nowadays. They differ in colour, flavour and nutritive value and stand out from other food ingredients. One of the healthiest varieties of rice is brown rice, red rice and black rice due to its fibre, microminerals like selenium and magnesium content. Their bran is an excellent source of flavonoids that decrease the risk of heart diseases and cancer. In fact, red rice is known for its cholesterol-lowering properties and is best for people having cardiac history. Best way to include B complex vitamins and antioxidants is to throw in some of these varieties of rice in our meals. While the other polished basmati variety has its bran removed, making it low in microminerals and fibre. It's lower in protein and has a greater impact on blood sugar than brown rice. Basmati rice is considered "saatvic" in Ayurveda and is easy to digest. But if white rice is eaten in excess, it causes weight gain. Basically, excess starch (rice) enters the body, which, in turn, converts them into fats and stores it, leading to obesity. Due to this reason, one is often advised by health professionals to avoid having white rice during dinners as there is no physical activity after this meal, which leads to deposition. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 80% of vitamin B1, 90% of vitamin B6, half of the manganese, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.
Brown rice has an appetizing flavour of its own; on the other hand, white rice is often enhanced with other flavours. But white rice has a longer shelf life as compared to brown rice. Brown rice develops a rancid flavour if stored unrefrigerated for more than 5 to 6 months. This is due to the natural oils in the bran layer becoming stale with time.
Rice is one of the oldest foods on our dinner table. It is cholesterol- and gluten-free and calorie dense. Ideally, this readily available and inexpensive grain can be consumed one cup daily with no medical conditions in the picture. Choosing the whole grains like brown rice, red rice and black rice is a wiser choice for maintaining good health and a simple way of improving the nutritional value of your diet. Consuming diet high in fibre and antioxidants is always beneficial to us in reducing obesity, diabetes and heart diseases. Though white rice can be consumed in moderation like once in a week.
If one has never eaten brown rice before and would like to make a start, one of the good ways is to mix one portion of white rice and one portion of brown rice when cooking. Gradually, reduce the proportion of white rice and allow the brown rice to be the major portion in your plate. Once you start enjoying the nutty flavour of brown rice, you will find plain white rice to be bland and insipid in taste.

By Deepshikha Agarwal, nutritionist

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