Rice has been a part of several cultures as a staple diet for many centuries. However, the recent wave of health-conscious trends has given this product a very dicey ground to stand on. Is rice good for you? Let us try and shed some light on this issue.
Did You Know?
Due to the oil content in the bran layer, brown rice has a shelf life of approximately 6 months. For a longer shelf life, refrigeration or freezer storage is recommended.
Rice forms the staple diet of almost half of the world's population―Asia being the largest producer and consumer, both. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the USA consumed 4.4 million MT of rice in 2011, much lesser when compared to China (135 million MT) and India (90 million MT).
Rice grain is a very versatile food product that can be converted into several forms and makes for a very filling dish. And yet, due to the recent shift in trends inching towards everything healthy, rice has been left on very dicey grounds.
Many nutritionists opine that rice of any kind is a strict no-no, whereas others are of the opinion that the kind of rice that you choose to consume should influence your decision.
Whether it may be for the health-conscious individuals (read, those who do not want to pack in the extra pounds), or those that are at a risk from consuming rice (read, diabetics), the fact remains that unless one is fully aware of what has been put to offer, there will always be confusion looming large.
To put the mind at ease and help you make an informed decision, this information will shed light on the dos and donts of eating rice.
The Types of Rice
There are two kinds of rice―white rice and brown rice. White rice is the kind of rice from which the brown bran cover has been removed, due to which, it becomes akin to processed rice and therefore tends to lose its nutrients in the process.
When the outer layering of the bran―which is brown in color―is left intact, it is known as brown rice. It is generally agreed that brown rice is more nutritious and healthy when compared to white rice.
Advantages of Brown Rice
It has come to light that brown rice is more nutritious and beneficial. Here are its advantages.
Rice is a high source of carbohydrates. Carbs are necessary for releasing energy in your body and keeping you satiated throughout the day. Brown rice contains more complex carbs than white rice, and consuming this will keep you energized throughout the day.
Brown rice (1 cup) provides for about 3½ grams of our daily fiber requirement. A human needs about 25 - 30 grams of fiber as part of our daily diet. White rice will contain only about .5 - 1 gram of the fiber because its bran cover has been stripped.
However, if one has weak intestines, then white rice might be a better choice for you to make because of the lesser amount of fiber. A lot of fiber can cause damage to the intestine lining.
Rice which has low GI (Glycemic Index) will break down very slowly in the body and release glucose gradually in the process. Thus providing you with small and continuous spurts of energy throughout the day rather than a huge burst of energy in one go.
Low in Sugar
The consumption of white rice―which is mostly made of starch―leads to the conversion into sugar, thus spiking the sugar levels and therefore increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Brown rice, on the other hand, stabilizes the blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that consumption of a half cup of brown rice will reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 60%. For people already suffering from the condition, the consumption of brown rice will prevent insulin spikes and help keep the condition under control.
Promotes Weight Loss
Being high in fiber content, brown rice helps to keep the bowel movement regular, thus promoting weight loss. Other than that, it also fills the stomach and makes a person feel full for a longer period of time―which directly translates into smaller portions.
Is a Whole Grain
Since brown rice retains the husk and bran because it is not taken through the refinement process, it is termed as a whole grain. It has been proven that whole grains reduce the buildup of plaque around the arteries, thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases and high cholesterol.
Rich Source of Selenium and Manganese
Brown rice is a rich source of both, selenium and manganese. Selenium helps in reducing the risk of developing common conditions like cancer, arthritis, and heart diseases.
Add to that the fact that a cup of brown rice provides about 80% of our daily manganese requirements. This element is important because it helps in the synthesizing of fats, along with benefiting the reproductive and nervous systems.
Rice also contains other nutrients like zinc, selenium, magnesium, manganese, and is an excellent source of iron, protein, niacin (Vitamin B3), thiamine (Vitamin B1), and essential fatty acids.
Other Nutritional Benefits
It is rich in antioxidants which helps in destroying cancer-causing free radicals from the body.
It has high potassium content which helps the body reduce toxins.
It is infused with naturally-occurring oils which benefit the body by normalizing the cholesterol levels.
It contains no additives or preservatives.
It does not contain gluten.
It contains lignans which can help reduce heart disease and prevent hormone-dependent cancers like breast cancer.
It is ideal for people who have food allergies and wheat intolerance.
It contains low levels of salt thus helping in preventing water retention.
It triggers serotonin in the brain which is a chemical that helps regulate and improve one's mood.
Brown rice is an excellent option for those who are trying to lose weight because it contains a lot of nutrients and provides for energy throughout the day. Other than that, it lends to several other advantages as have been highlighted here. So the next time you are questioned 'Is rice good for you', you will know exactly what to say to them.