By Sparshita Saxena, NDTV.
Why has eating rice been such a problem for those who are trying to lose weight or are on a strict calorie restricting diet? Putting it across, in straight and much simpler words - rice is not an enemy of the weight related goals that you are trying to achieve - inadequate knowledge about this food item is.
Let's unravel what makes this traditional variety such a huge topic of debate in the health and fitness circle. White rice is the highly refined version of raw rice, which is hulled and milled. What makes this variety a not-so-healthy one despite it being widely consumed throughout the world is the fact that processing and milling takes away significant parts of the grain - bran and germ. Bran and germ are rich in dietary fibre as well as nutrients that are beneficial for human health.
According to a Delhi based weight management expert, Dr. Gargi Sharma, “If white rice undergoes further process of polishing then its aleurone layer gets removed leading to loss of nutrients. This layer is rich in B vitamins, other nutrients and essential fats.”
White rice is primarily starch. Due to processing, it falls short on some essential nutrients like thiamine, also known as B1 as well other B Vitamins. Consuming un-enriched white rice can lead to a condition called beriberi, which occurs due to thiamine deficiency. White rice is also treated with additives that can - in certain cases - harm human body and trigger metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity and so on.
According to Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Max Healthcare Saket, New Delhi, “The milling and polishing destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, all of the dietary fibre as well the essential fatty acids present in the raw variety.” As alarming as these facts may seem, doing away with white rice completely may be a tough choice for most people. This is where healthier alternatives like coloured rice step in.
The healthier alternatives: Brown, red and black
Both brown and red rice have similar nutritional profiles including harvesting process. These are either un-hulled or partially hulled types of rice, which means you get to chew on the bran and germ that are known to have various beneficial properties.
According to Dr. Gargi Sharma, “Brown rice and red rice are quite similar when we talk about them on the nutritional front. Both are great sources of fibre, B vitamins, calcium, zinc and iron, manganese, selenium, magnesium and other nutrients. One thing that sets the red variety apart from its brown counterpart is it being enriched with antioxidants that can help fight damaging free radicals in our body.”
Why brown and red rice?
The red variety gets its rich colour from an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which are also found in deep purple or reddish fruits and vegetables. The compound is believed to have properties that can reduce inflammation, allergy, prevent risks of cancer and help in weight management. The manganese present in both varieties helps in strengthening metabolism, while magnesium helps in migraine, lowers blood pressure as well as risks of heart attacks. Along with calcium, magnesium helps in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, and prevents risks of arthritis and osteoporosis. Selenium on the other hand protects the body against infections.
Moreover, since they are high in fibre content, the digestion process is slow, which leads to a strengthened digestive system. Fibre also aids in slowing down the rate at which carbs are converted into blood sugar; therefore fibrous foods are low on the glycemic load.