Just how nutritious are other types of grains like quinoa, millet, brown rice and glutinous rice, compared to white rice? By Joyce Teo
White rice is very much in the news these days, after a report on how eating this beloved staple on a regular basis raises the risk of diabetes.
The quality of a person’s diet can be improved by replacing refined carbohydrate intake with whole grains, says the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
According to the 2010 National Nutrition Survey, 52 per cent of Singaporeans’ dietary energy come from carbohydrates, which is mainly made up of refined staples such as white rice, noodles and white bread.
The same survey also showed that Singaporeans were consuming nine times more sugar from starchy staples such as rice and noodles than from sweet drinks, said the Health Promotion Board.
Refined carbohydrates lack fibre and hence are broken down and converted into glucose very quickly, resulting in a spike in blood sugar levels.
An HPB spokesman said: “Over time, this imposes a significant burden on our body, leading to eventual fatigue of the insulin- producing cells of the pancreas which, in turn, leads to the development of diabetes.”
To prevent obesity and diabetes, people need to improve the quality of carbohydrates consumed, as well as ensure that their overall diet is balanced.
They also need to limit the consumption of alcohol and foods that are high in added sugar and saturated fat, as well as exercise regularly.
Mind & Body takes a look at the different types of rice commonly found in Singapore.
1. WHOLE GRAINS
Quinoa has a lower glycaemic index than white rice. Photo: The Straits Times
Quinoa and millet are whole grains, like unpolished rice. Like rice, they contain bran, germ and endosperm, said a Health Promotion Board spokesman.
When rice is refined, the bran and the germ are removed, leaving only the soft white endosperm, he said.
The endosperm contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
“By removing the bran and germ, white rice contains more calories for the same weight of its whole grain counterpart,” he added. “Conversely, quinoa or millet would contain more nutrients, but fewer calories for the same weight of white rice.”
Quinoa has a lower glycaemic index (GI) than white rice. Millet has a medium to high GI, said Ms Jaclyn Reutens, a dietitian from Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants. Still, these are grains that can add variety to a person’s diet. A healthy diet is also a varied diet.
Next: White Rice