OmG! I’m OVERWEIGHT! But I love eating rice. Will rice make me fat?” This is a common question asked by my patients, though I tell them to enjoy their rice with lots of veggies, to add to their fibre intake. They feel guilty after having rice. Few people turn to brown rice, as they start enjoying its taste, but some just can’t get through it, and they want a different option.
So, all you rice lovers out there, who are conscious about eating rice to avoid piling up those extra kilos, there is some good news for you! You can switch to unprocessed or unpolished rice, which is high in fibre and nutrients, plus this option also keeps sugar levels in check, particularly when had with an increased quantity of vegetables. I would also like to talk about one more kind of rice, which is lesser known, but has many health benefits. And, it’s red rice. This is a special variety of rice that gets its red colour due to its anthocyanin content. This rice is generally unhulled or partially hulled rice, which has a red husk. It has a nutty flavour and compared to polished rice, has a high nutritional value, as the germ of the rice is left intact.
Raktashali, Thai Red Cargo Rice, Bhutanese Red Rice, Camargue Red Rice (grown in France), Kerala Matta Rice are a few varieties of red rice. The Matta Red Rice is grown in Palakkad district of Kerala, and is popular in Sri Lanka too. Red rice is packed with nutrients and has an ample number of health benefits, out of which a few are listed below:
■ Red rice consists of a good amount of fibre. About one-quarter cup of red rice consists of about two grams of fibre, which is roughly eight per cent of our daily fibre requirement. As compared to white rice, which has only simple carbohydrates, red rice contains complex carbohydrates due to its fibre content that are good for health. Fibre helps enhance bowel movements and prevents constipation. It plays a role in lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
■ The magnesium maintains blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart attacks. It helps alleviate asthma symptoms and restore normal breathing.
■ As red rice has a low glycemic index, and high fibre content, it helps in regulating blood sugar levels, as well as insulin production. Thus, it helps in diabetes control.
■ Iron is an essential mineral required by our body to carry oxygen. In case of a lack of iron, our body may not get enough of the oxygen it needs, ultimately making us feel fatigue and lowering our immunity. Red rice can help us cope with an iron deficiency.
■ Red rice is rich in vitamin B6, which is an important vitamin for our body. It is needed for proper functioning of our organs. It is also required for red blood cell formation, and for DNA synthesis, which carries the genetic information of each individual. Apart from B6, red rice consists of other B complex vitamins as well, which are required for good health.
■ Red rice consists of anthocyanin, manganese and zinc, all of which have antioxidant properties. It protects the body from harmful effects of free radicals formed inside the body that damage body cells and tissues. Anthocyanin helps reduce inflammation, zinc has wound healing abilities, and is good for brain functions, and manganese strengthens metabolism.
■ Red rice is a great source of calcium and magnesium, and both maintain bone health.
There’s an array of health advantages related to this mighty rice. So go ahead, and use it wisely!
The writer is a clinical nutritionist with a focus on healthy lifestyle choices