The health benefits of rice are many. Rice is the staple grain for more
than half the world's population,
especially Asia. Rice is becoming increasingly popular in other parts
of the world as well.
There are more than
25,000 varieties of rice.
Rice is mainly consumed in two different forms: brown rice and white rice. Brown rice is unmilled
or partly milled and retains the
outer bran and germs and as such can be called whole grain rice. It is these
layers that contain all the
In white rice, the outer layers of bran and germ are removed
or polished, and is therefore less nutritious. If you want to get the
maximum health benefits of rice, you know which type to use.
Rice is also categorized by the length of its grain, as long-grain,
medium-grain, and short-grain. Long-grain rice, such as basmati and jasmine, is less sticky and more
fluffy when cooked, and ideal for preparing flavored rice dishes such
as fried rice and pulao (pilaf). Medium-grain rice is more sticky and
chewy, while the shorter varieties, such as the Italian arborio, are
extremely sticky and chewy, and good for dishes like the Indian Khichdi
(pongal) and Italian risotto, and gruels like ganji or conji.
In the US, you will also find wild
which is grown in Minnesota, Michigan, and California.
Wild rice has a distinctive flavor, and is available in long and short
grain forms. It's more chewy than the regular white rice but also more
nutritious. There is increasing interest in this rice from those
interested in consuming healthy food.
As far as calories, carbohydrates, and protein are concerned, both brown
and white rice contain similar amounts. However, in terms of vitamins
and minerals, brown rice is a good source of vitamins such as Vitamin B1
B2 (riboflavin) vitamin B3 (niacine), iron, along with
magnesium and dietary fiber.
In white rice, many of these nutrients are polished away. In the US,
these vitamins and minerals are added back to the rice, and sold as
Rice is a great source of complex
carbohydrates which give us the
energy we need. According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of
United Nations), rice provides 20 percent of the world's dietary energy
Rice contains all the amino acids
for building and
maintaining muscle tissue, and make up antibodies, enzymes, and
hormones. These amino acids also help maintain healthy skin, hair,
eyesight, and nousish the heart, lungs, tendons and ligaments, brain,
nervous system and glands.
Other health benefits of brown rice include it's role in
reducing bad cholesterol. Brown rice contains oil in its outer layer
studies show that this oil can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
Early oriental writings mention the calming and soothing effect of
brown rice which has been confirmed by modern science. In ancient
literature of Thailand, China, India, and Burma, rice is mentioned as a
source of health, and brown rice as a healing food. In these cultures,
rice is considered as a source of divine health and is used in
vitamins in brown rice, especially thiamin, riboflavin,
and niacin provide youthful energy, and nourish the skin and blood
Rice is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium and hence makes a perfect
food for those with high blood pressure and requiring a low-sodium
diet. The calcium in rice (especially brown rice) helps lower blood
White rice is one of the easiest and quickest foods to digest requiring
only an hour to completely digest it. As such, rice is an ideal health
food for those who are debilitated and weak and require easy
assimilation and quick energy. Because of the low fiber content, white
rice is very soothing to the digestive system and rice gruels along
with buttermilk are recommended for digestive disorders such as
diarrhea, dysentery, morning sickness, colitis, and jaundice.
Rice powder is also used externally as a soothing powder in cases of
skin inflammation such as small-pox, measles, prickly heat, burns and
To sum it up, rice is an important part of a healthy diet. To derive
the maximum benefit from it, include unpolished or brown and wild rice
varieties as often as you can in your meals along with white rice.