What was the first food introduced to you as an infant? Yes, you got it right- RICE! However it’s strange to see how the fear of eating rice develops as you grow up. Doesn’t that seem controversial in itself? Although there still exist rice lovers and proponents (like us), the ratio of opponents to proponents has dramatically increased over a period of time. This is thanks to the food industry which constantly works towards making us believe whatever comes from our kitchen is unhealthy, whereas the processed version of natural foods are healthy.
How did this come to be?
This blatant rejection of natural rice has been propagated by cunning adverts which market the grains as “Fiber-rich” or “Low Glycemic Index”. Even “Cholesterol free”. No surprise, then, that the general population has the impression that the regular rice they consume isn’t healthy/rich in nutrients.
But what makes rice so nice?
The Probiotic Factor
To start with, rice increases the number of good microorganisms. Many issues in our body start with the root cause: The unfavorable ratio of good-to-bad microorganisms. A lot of problems such as poor assimilation of nutrients from food, dull skin, indigestion, bloating, sugar cravings, leaky gut, poor hair occurs when the number of bad microorganisms overpowers the good microorganisms. Lectins (plant proteins) in rice corrects this ratio, thus helping break down antinutritional factors, making nutrients more bioavailable in the food.
B12 & Vitamin K Boost
The balance in the gut microbes helps synthesize vitamin B12 that keeps you calm, boosts metabolism, keeps you energetic all day and helps women to deal with menstrual issues. Formation of Vitamin K is important for the regulation of calcium in the body and for sound bone metabolism.
Rich in Inositol
Rice has Inositol- a nutrient that has fat-burning, anti-anxiety and irritability reducing properties. It also improves fertility in women with PCOS. Consuming rice has positive effects on the skin. True. But it also enhances hair growth.
Rice is Gluten-free
It’s great for people having issues digesting gluten that causes irritation of the intestinal lining which further affects absorption of nutrients.
Common Myths revolving Rice
Rice is starch:
Cooked rice has less than 10% starch. Washing off the starch makes it a light carbohydrate. Besides, starch isn’t your enemy. It is a source of energy, as it converts to glucose in the body. Starch is very crucial for individuals involved in endurance sports or has long gaps between meals as it helps to replenish glycogen stores that help to sustain energy for long hours.
Rice has no protein
Rice has methionine, an essential amino acid, which mobilizes fat from the liver and prevents damage to the skin. Not only that, it slows down aging too.
If you look at Asian countries like China, Japan, Philippines and Thailand, white rice is consumed every single day and in some of these countries for every single meal; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These countries also have the lowest rate of diabetes because there is no connection between diabetes and white rice. The way you eat rice is the key here. The traditional method of consuming rice by mixing it with vegetables, curd, pulses/beans or meat reduces the GI (glycemic index) of the meal making it great for people with diabetes. Topping rice with ghee (clarified butter) also helps to reduce the glycemic load of the meal making it diabetes friendly.
Eating rice for dinner makes you fat:
Carbs in rice have a calming effect and are necessary elements for our body. Thus, it constitutes a great dinner meal since it is easy to digest and helps you sleep soundly, wake up fresh and soothe bowel movement the next morning. Rice doesn’t make you fat, overeating and eating a late dinner does.
Brown is better than white:
The type of rice we traditionally cook has a whitish hue. It lets the body absorb all the nutrients from the rice, like Vitamin B6 and B12. On the other hand, brown rice has excessive fiber that causes digestion issues, It also contains phytic acid which interferes with the absorption of Zinc which is crucial for the insulin function in the body. It also inhibits iron and calcium absorption which may lead to the deficiency of the nutrient.
There are so many varieties of rice. Which one’s the best?
Each and every variety of rice has its own distinct fragrance and flavor. Even the aromatic compounds provide a ton of nutritional benefits. They work as antioxidants in the body, slowing down the effects of aging. There are thousands of rice varieties available, wild, red, black, parboiled, Arborio, Japanese rice to name a few. Our advice – Eat the variety which is the closest to the region you live in and choose single/semi polished rice.
Conclusion: Yes, rice is great. But, too much of a good thing becomes counterproductive. So make sure you portion it out well for it to work for and not against you.