So much Ado about RICE : is it really bad for you ?

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November 2, 2018

Rice is a staple food in most parts of the world and gains it renown from being easy to make , flexible and enjoyable with lots of possible combination options from a varied list of meals .

It however has gained a notorious reputation for its “perceived ” or factual role in weight gain.

Rice is a ready source of carbohydrates to the body and therefore serves as a viable energy source .

It’s digestion however is seemingly easy as it gets readily broken down to simple sugars which immediately raises the blood sugar level ; a phenomenon referred to as possessing a high glycemic index with the attendant increase in insulin production.

But this appears to occur mostly when we eat WHITE rice.

Now you might ask what has the colour “gat to do with it “?

Rice can be classified based on colour and presence or absence of its natural elements like the husk , bran and endosperm or nutrient dense core into :

  1. White rice
  2. Brown rice
  3. Red rice
  4. Black rice

Or classified based on texture into:

  • Sticky or gelatinous rice
  • Hard pound rice

The following groups can also be further subclassified based on the length of grains into long , medium and short grains .

The classification according to colour is the most popular mode of classification so we would use that for purpose of this discussion .

White Rice

White rice has the husk , bran and endosperm layer removed so it’s relatively low in nutrients compared to the other types. It’s said to be polished sequel to this process of “polishing ” which unfortunately reduces its protein content and more importantly makes its breakdown to simple sugars easier ….which is not good for us as this increases the risk of accumulation of sugars as glycogen and then possibly later on as fats !

The calorie content of white rice is relatively less than that of brown rice but it’s high glycemic index and low fiber content confer quite some challenges .

For a 100gram of white rice :
Protein content is about 6.3gram of protein

Long grained white rice ( e.g. Basmati ) have the lowest glycemic index

Brown Rice

Brown rice is not polished and have their endosperm intact .

They therefore contain more fiber and more are more nutritious with a higher protein content ; about 7.2gram per 100grams of rice .

Brown rice contain about 3.2g of fiber per 100gram .

Brown rice is also rich in Magnesium and vitamin B

Black rice

Black rice is Unpolised and has a Higher protein content ; 9.1gram per 100gram of rice .

They have a much higher fiber content as well ; about 4.7gram per 100gram of rice . They also have a low glycemic index .

Red Rice

Contain the antioxidant anthocyanin which gives it its colour .

It contains about 7gram per 100 gram of protein and 2gram per 100 gram of fiber .
Unfortunately black and red rice are relatively expensive to produce so they relatively rarer compared to white and then brown rice .

How to eat Rice in a healthy Manner

1) wash your rice 2-3 times before boiling to reduce the starch content .

2) soak the rice before washing to also reduce the starch content .

3) boil your rice with excessive water and drain when it’s cooked to reduce the starch content .

4) steamed or boiled rice contains less Starch than fried rice

5) Because brown rice is healthier because of its high fiber content low glycemic index , it can be mixed with white rice for people who love white rice . Place brown rice in the pot first ( it takes longer to cook ) then after sometime add white rice .

The final outcome would have much less glycemic index than cooking white rice alone .

6) Never take rice as a meal but rather as a component of a meal , so it’s should never take up more than 1/3rd of your plate . Other healthy components of your plate reduce the overall glycemic index of the meal .

7) Ensure to take rice with meals rich in fiber e.g. salad to aid its digestion .

8) Animal protein based sauces and stews have been found to be best suited for rice in terms balancing the protein and health needs of your meal.