Don’t avoid rice in your diet altogether and miss out on its health benefits. All you need to do is pick the right types.
Rice often gets a bad rap for being a fattening carbohydrate but this easily digestible, gluten-free grain has tons of health benefits. It can even be a good choice when you’re trying to lose weight, provided you choose the right kind.
In fact, a new international study of 136 countries suggests that eating more rice could help curb obesity. Obesity levels in countries that eat lots of rice are substantially lower than countries that consume less rice, according to research presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, UK.
“Eating rice seems to protect against weight gain. It’s possible that the fibre, nutrients, and plant compounds found in whole grains may increase feelings of fullness and prevent overeating,” says Professor Tomoko Imai from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, Kyoto, Japan who led the research.
She continues, “Rice is also low in fat and has a relatively low postprandial blood glucose level which suppresses insulin secretion. However, there are also reports that people who overeat rice are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Therefore, an appropriate amount of rice intake may prevent obesity.”
Health advocates like to recommend brown rice to those who are looking to shed some kilos, but this extra chewy variation may not be too everyone’s liking. Fret not, a new Japanese brand says it has found a way around this problem.
“Kinmemai Better White rice has a new way of polishing rice which retained most of its nutrients, like vitamin Bs and fibre, yet giving the same taste and mouthfeel as white rice. This is a useful healthier alternative for families who have yet tried or not willing to try brown rice,” says Bibi Chia, Principal Dietitian of the Diabetes & Endocrine Centre at Raffles Hospital.
“Their rice also swells up 20 per cent more, so people are in fact eating 20 per cent less. It can be beneficial for those who are trying to cut down rice or carbohydrate intake for reasons such as to lose weight or for better control of diabetes,” she adds.
Here are 10 benefits of rice that have made it an enduring staple in our Asian diets:
Great source of energy
Since rice is abundant in carbohydrates, it acts as fuel for the body and aids in the normal functioning of the brain. Carbohydrates are essential to be metabolised by the body and turned into functional, usable energy.
Eating rice is extremely beneficial for your health, simply because it does not contain harmful fats, cholesterol or sodium. It forms an integral part of a balanced diet. Any food that can provide nutrients without having any negative impacts on health is a bonus!
Manages blood pressure
Rice is low in sodium, so it is considered one of the best foods for those suffering from high blood pressure and hypertension. Sodium can cause veins and arteries to constrict, contributing to heart conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Rice is rich in insoluble fibre that can protect against many types of cancer. Many scientists and researchers believe that such insoluble fibres are vital for protecting the body against the development and metastasis of cancerous cells.
Diuretic and digestive qualities
Chinese people believe that rice considerably increases appetite, cures stomach ailments and reduces all digestive problems. As a diuretic, rice husk can help you lose excess water weight, eliminate toxins from the body and even lose weight, since approximately four per cent of urine is actually made up of body fat!
Great for skin care
Medical experts say that powdered rice can be applied topically to cure certain skin ailments. On the Indian subcontinent, rice water is readily prescribed by Ayurveda practitioners as an effective ointment to relieve skin irritation or redness.
Relieve bowel conditions
Rice is full of resistant starch, which reaches the bowels in an undigested form. This type of starch stimulates the growth of useful bacteria that help with normal bowel movements. It’s also very useful in reducing the effects of conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and diarrhoea.
Rich in vitamins
Rice is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, which provide the foundation for body metabolism, immune system health, and general functioning of the organ systems, since vitamins are commonly consumed in the most essential activities in the body.
Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
Rice is said to contain high levels of nutrients that stimulate the growth and activity of neurotransmitters, subsequently helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease to a considerable extent.
Good for cardiovascular health
Rice is known to have antioxidant properties that promote cardiovascular strength by reducing cholesterol levels in the body. Low levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium will also help reduce obesity and the health conditions associated with being overweight.
A version of this story first appeared on www.womensweekly.com.sg.