[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ice is a staple food in most Pakistani homes. However, there are different varieties of Rice available in our country, Basmati Rice, Brown rice and White rice. Let us understand the health benefits of these three varieties.
The milling and polishing processes of white rice removes most of the important vitamins and other nutrients from it. So WHO suggests and recommends that white rice be fortified with important vitamins and mineral premixes, as polished rice is nothing more than refined starch. Further research is required to build the evidence-base on the use of fortified rice and to develop global technical guidelines for rice fortification.
Health benefits include:
Gastrointestinal: White rice is one of the easiest and quickest foods to digest and requires only an hour to completely digest. Since white rice is low in fibre, it is very soothing to the digestive system and easily digested. So, it is great for relieving digestive disorders like diarrhoea, dysentery, colitis and even morning sickness. It is the best food for infants, young children and old people.
Overall energy: the body needs carbohydrates to function and white rice is an excellent source of energy.
Protein: Every 150g of rice has about 5 grams of protein.
Rice powder is also used externally as a soothing powder in cases of skin inflammation such as small-pox, measles, prickly heat, burns and scalds.
Brown rice has several health benefits. However, it is not very commonly used in Pakistani households mainly because people are ignorant of the health benefits of brown rice and secondly that it is costlier compared to white rice. The health benefits of brown rice includes:
Brown rice is an excellent source of soluble fibre. It helps to lower the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the blood. There is also some suggestions that the oil present in brown rice or extracted rice bran oil may help lower harmful cholesterol levels and blood pressure, whilst raising the levels of ‘healthy’ HDL cholesterol.
The fibre in brown rice means that the digestion time of this carbohydrate is slower than processed grains, including white rice. This means that there is a more controlled slower release of sugar into the blood stream and it has a lower glycemic index (GI) compared to other grains.
Brown rice is very rich in vitamins and minerals and hence nutritionally more beneficial.
Basmati rice is another unique species of rice originating from Pakistani. Basmati rice is also one of the varieties of rice used in many families. There are different variants of Basmati rice available in the market at varying costs. Just like all species of rice, basmati is available in white or brown versions, depending on the extent of the milling process.
Brown basmati rice is comparable to other types of brown rice in nutrient content (although it does contain about 20% more fibre compared to most other types of brown rice), and white basmati rice is comparable to other types of white rice. The health benefits of fibre has already been discussed earlier in the article.
Basmati rice and Jasmine rice are long-grain varieties that have been cultivated to bring out distinctive flavour profiles. Long grain of the rice gives a royal look to the rice recipe prepared, be it plain jeera rice or vegetable pulao.
Basmati rice has a typical, unique aroma. In the case of basmati, this aroma is due to the presence of a chemical called 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, which is found in basmati rice at about 90 parts per billion. That’s about 12 times more than in other types of rice, giving basmati its special aroma.