Rice has been a staple food for humans for thousands of years, or even far longer. What’s safe to say is that it is one of the first crops that were grown since our ancestors learned to farm all those years ago.
It is common in most Asian countries to have rice as a part of all their meals, breakfast included. Truly, rice is, perhaps, one of the most well-known and widespread crops that is being eaten all over the world.
This article will talk about rice, its benefits, and the many types of rice available. This will help you determine whether you should eat rice, and what variety you should choose. We will be providing you with almost everything that you need to know about this amazing food.
Benefits of Eating Rice
Rice is the main source of carbohydrates, which are used up by the body as energy. Most of this comes from starch while the rest comes in the form of sugar and fiber, the latter of which comes in more quantities if the rice is unprocessed. Rice contains little protein and almost no fat.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, rice is typically rich in Vitamin B, manganese, and magnesium. B Vitamins assist the body in burning calories, thus improving metabolism.
On the other hand, manganese is an antioxidant that also helps the metabolism, while magnesium aids in better nerve and muscle health. Trace minerals such as copper, iron, and potassium may also be found.
Brown rice variants also have richer levels of the mineral selenium which helps in regulating your thyroid gland. Perhaps most importantly, brown rice is much richer in fiber than white rice.
Fiber is a component that greatly aids in digestion and waste elimination. Brown rice has a lower glycemic index as well, which means that it lets you feel full for far longer as the body takes more time to fully digest and absorb the nutrients.
Eating rice, thus, is a cheap way to get your carbohydrate needs for energy throughout the day. In its original form, rice does not contain sodium and is gluten-free. Some rice is also enriched with other minerals such as folate to make it healthier.
In addition, there have been studies, although not yet conclusive, that eating rice on a regular basis will help in the prevention of certain types of cancers. As you could see, it is very much worth having rice as part of your diet.
However, it is also very important to eat rice in moderation. Experts suggest half a cup of rice as the standard serving. This would provide the body with 110 calories. Eating rice in excess will lead to obesity as well as complications such as diabetes due to the sugar content of rice.
Of course, the amount of rice that you should eat per sitting would fully depend on your fitness goals, age, and level of physical activity. Also, it is also important to note that rice should be eaten with other foods that will satisfy your nutritional needs.
Is Brown Rice Healthier Than White Rice?
The quick answer to this question is yes. When it comes to nutrition, brown rice is superior to white rice in all aspects as brown rice is considered a whole grain.
Brown rice has higher levels of nutrients such as thiamine, niacin, iron, zinc, phosphorus, fiber, and many more. All of these nutrients mentioned have positive effects on the body.
However, it should also be noted that brown rice may have more negative compounds as well. Arsenic, for example, maybe found in larger quantities in brown rice.
Arsenic is a toxic chemical that is naturally occurring but is gradually increasing in the environment due to pollution and the use of certain pesticides. Phytic acid can also be found in brown rice, and this is an anti-nutrient that lessens the body’s ability to absorb certain good nutrients.
What is the Best Rice to Eat for Weight Loss?
Brown rice is still the best type of rice to eat if you want to lose weight. This is because brown rice is more filling and the feeling of fullness will not go away as fast. As such, you will eat less.
Brown rice also has a slightly lower calorie count when compared to white rice.
However, it is still important to note that eating habits, as well as a healthy lifestyle, are important when losing weight. You should eat rice in quantities that are proportionate to your weight and daily levels of exercise.
If you intend to lose weight, you may choose to cut back on the usual serving sizes to create a caloric deficit. You should also get plenty of both aerobic and strength resistance exercises and get plenty of sleep, among other it.
However, if white rice is still your preferred go-to rice, then you may opt for basmati rice. Basmati rice has one of the lowest caloric content per serving, and it also has the added benefit of having the least arsenic content.
Basmati rice is hugely popular in India but is also available in most countries.
Is There Any Healthy White Rice?
White rice, in itself, is quite healthy. This would only depend on the quantity of rice that you eat as well as the other foods that you take in. In fact, some doctors may even recommend eating white rice over brown rice due to its lower fiber content.
A low-fiber diet may be required in some cases, especially for those with digestive issues. Some athletes also prefer white rice as this provides a much faster release of energy for the intense physical activity that is required of them.
There is also re-processed white rice that is enriched in the sense that nutrients are added to the product to compensate for the vitamins and minerals lost during the initial processing.
These are widely available in supermarkets and in stores that specialize in selling healthy foods.
As mentioned above, basmati rice is also quite healthy despite being classified as white rice. Again, you should eat this rice, or any other type of rice, for that matter, in moderation and as advised by your doctor or nutritionist.
Ranking Rice by Health Benefits
1. Brown Rice
Brown rice is the healthiest type of rice due to its high fiber content and low glycemic index. It is also richer in minerals when compared to others. This type of rice is also more inexpensive when compared to other “premium” and healthy rice.
Making this a more practical choice for those who want this food on a daily basis.
2. Wild Rice
Wild rice is technically not rice but rather a type of grass. Still, it pretty much serves the same purpose as regular rice. Wild rice has the benefit of having fewer calories and more protein content than brown rice.
It is also good for those that have diabetes or heart disease-related issues. Wild rice is also rich in phosphorus and zinc which are important nutrients to have in the body.
3. Black Rice
Black rice, also known as forbidden rice as only the rice was only allowed to eat it before, is another type of healthy rice. What sets it apart from other types of rice is its high antioxidant content.
Anthocyanin is a type of antioxidant that can aid in preventing cancer as well as other diseases. It is also good for those with arthritis and heart disease due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
4. Red rice
Red rice is similar to black rice, but its benefits are best for those with heart disease. This is because red rice aids in lowering bad cholesterol, which is one of the main causes of heart-related problems. It is also good for weight loss as well as for those who are suffering from PMS.
5. White rice
White rice is a regular type of rice. While still healthy, much of the nutritional value has already been stripped during the processing stage. However, this is the cheapest type of rice and is easily accessible.
6. Packaged Blends
Pre-made or packaged blends are available in most supermarkets. While some types of these rice are enriched with additional vitamins and minerals and are marketed to be the healthier alternative, some products have added chemicals and ingredients that may be harmful if consumed in large quantities and on a continuous basis.
Avoid pre-made rice that adds flavor as these would most likely contain salt and other artificial compounds that may be harmful in the long run.
Which Type of Rice Should I Choose?
The type of rice that you should choose to consume would depend entirely on your preferences. You should take into consideration your specific needs and purposes such as dietary requirements, nutritional needs, and even your budget.
The taste would also be a deciding factor, especially when cooking up dishes where rice is part of the ingredients list.
It is recommended that you try out each type of rice that you can get your hands on and see how you feel after each meal. Your body will definitely tell you if it agrees with the rice that you are eating.
Better yet, you can consult with your doctor so that he can provide you with the best choice among the many options that you have when it comes to rice. However, if you do not have any special medical needs and do not have any specific fitness goals, any specific type of rice will not have any adverse effects on your body.
Is Quinoa Better than Rice?
Quinoa is a rice alternative that is fast gaining popularity. Quinoa is actually a seed that functions pretty much like regular rice but is actually considered a superfood as it provides many health benefits that you can rarely find from a single food source.
First, quinoa is a complete protein, something that you would rarely find in plants. It is also rich in fiber and other nutrients. However, it is lower in calories and can better help in controlling your blood sugar. It is also gluten-free.
For athletes, though, rice is still superior as it provides more energy in the form of carbohydrates when compared to quinoa. This statement applies when compared to both brown and white rice, which means that quinoa is actually superior to rice in almost all aspects.
What are Other Rice Alternatives?
There are other foods that can replace rice in terms of texture, taste, and nutritional value. Some may even be more beneficial to the body pound for pound. Cauliflower and broccoli are two vegetables that can be grated and processed in such a way that they can substitute rice.
Couscous, on the other hand, is a Moroccan dish made of semolina that is fast becoming a popular rice alternative.
Other alternatives to rice include shirataki rice which comes from a root plant called the Konjak plant. It is also considered a miracle food. Corn rice, on the other hand, is rice made out of corn grits. Other alternatives are whole grains which include barley, oats, and bulgur, among others.
Many experts agree that your daily diet should comprise more or less 50% carbohydrates. Rice can easily provide most if not all of that in a cheap and abundant manner.
Rice is also very flexible as it can be a part of almost any meal. When eaten responsibly, rice can be a great part of your diet, and, while there are multiple types of rice as well as rice alternatives around, each of them has its strengths and weaknesses.
Rice has been a part of humans’ diets for a very long time, and its popularity shows no sign of waning. As such, it is important for us to understand how eating rice affects us, and what options are available to us in order to stay healthy while still being able to enjoy eating our favorite grains.