Rice is a staple eaten across the world in various forms and for meals ranging from breakfast to desserts. It is consumed by more than half the world’s population. There are several varieties of rice, some healthier than others. Usually, the darker rice varieties like brown, black, wild, and red rice are more nutritious as they have the whole grain, which includes nutritious germ, fibrous grain, and carb-rich endosperm. On the contrary, white rice is nutritionally dense because it has been processed, and its nutritious contents like bran and germs have been removed. Read this article to find the answers to questions like is wild rice healthy or is white rice good for you.
The 5 Healthiest Types of Rice
Darker rice is considered more nutritious, but it has to be stored appropriately as well. While processed rice, when uncooked and dry, can survive for longer periods, uncooked and dry dark rice has shorter survival spans and may need to be stored in the fridge or freezer if not consumed within 3-6 months.
1. Black Rice
Black rice is largely cultivated in China and has a chewy texture, nutty and sweet taste, and a purplish color. It is the healthiest rice to eat because it is rich in antioxidants, which give it its dark color and minerals, vitamins, and fiber. It prevents overeating and is therefore ideal for weight loss. The antioxidant in black rice is also found in blackberries and blueberries and is called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin aids against diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Black rice is also anti-inflammatory due to the presence of C3G, which helps combat arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
2. Wild Rice
Wild rice is the seed of aquatic grass native to North America. While it is often considered grass rather than rice, it has copious amounts of nutrients like phosphorus, manganese, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and proteins that make the bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints stronger. It has a chewy texture and nutty taste and takes longer to cook. It is low in calories and helps balance sugar levels as it is rich in fiber and magnesium. Its minerals also regulate metabolism.
3. Brown Rice
Brown rice contains bran layers that the rice retains after being hulled and highly nutritious rice. Bran layers give the rice its texture, color, and flavor. Brown rice may be short, medium, long-grain, or light brown. All four varieties have similar qualities but vary in the cooking process. Brown rice is rich in magnesium and is vital for a healthy brain, heart, muscles, and bones. Magnesium deficiency is common in America, and brown rice can combat this. It also contains zinc, iron, and thiamine and helps produce collagen for healthier skin and joints.
4. Cauliflower Rice
While this is not technically rice but rather a vegetable prepared as a rice substitute, it has gained popularity. You can now purchase it ready-made. While it is not rich in nutrients, it has fewer calories and high amounts of vitamins and minerals. The fiber in cauliflower aids digestion, and choline prevents numerous diseases. Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in cauliflower help slow cancer cells from growing, and sulforaphane reduces cancer risk.
5. Red Rice
Red rice obtains its red color from anthocyanin that reduces inflammation and allergies, prevents cancer, and aids in weight management. The rice is also rich in manganese that strengthens bones, aids weight loss, and reduces premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Red rice also contains xuezhikang, which aids in lowering cholesterol levels and is thus a good option for heart patients. Red rice is also less starchy and ideal for diabetes patients as it has a low glycemic index.
Which Varieties Are Not That Healthy?
It is a general rule of thumb that whiter rice is nutritionally dense. When rice is processed and its nutritious content removed, it can lead to higher blood sugar levels and increase appetite. Some of the not-so nutritious rice are listed below;
1. Basmati Rice
While Basmati rice is rich in fragrance and flavor, it is a bowl of much lighter rice and is not as nutritionally endowed. It is thin and soft rice and is easy to digest, making it a suitable option for people with digestive issues. It is rich in niacin and thiamine, which are good for the nervous system and help combat memory loss and depression. The carbohydrates in Basmati rice are healthy and boost energy.
2. Jasmine Rice
Jasmine rice is famously known for its fragrance. This is one of the healthier variants of white rice but low in proteins and ideal for those on a low protein diet. Jasmine rice is also rich in niacin which aids your body in producing red blood cells and gives you energy by converting carbohydrates into glucose. Jasmine rice is, however, not a healthy option for people with diabetes as it has a high glycemic index. Jasmine rice also contains adequate amounts of iron.
3. Arborio Rice
Arborio rice is native to Italy and is only cultivated there. It is commonly used in risottos and has a rich and creamy texture, owing to its high fiber content. It is also rich in carbohydrates and fat and is not an ideal option for weight loss. It contains nutrients like vitamins, iron, and proteins, making it suitable for those who work out. The higher starch content makes arborio rice unsuitable for people with diabetes as well.
4. White Rice
White rice does not contain any bran layers or germs and is a refined carbohydrate. It does not contain the vitamins and minerals found in the darker rice varieties as it has been stripped down to the endosperm. It is thus rich in carbohydrates and not any nutrients. This makes it easy to digest, and it is also processed into sugar due to its high glycemic index. White rice is also unsuitable for weight loss.
5. Sticky Rice
Glutinous or sticky rice has a sticky texture because of its high starch content. The starch amylopectin breaks down due to hot water, making the rice sticky. This rice has minuscule quantities of nutrients like vitamins, fiber, or minerals. It is also often paired with sauces and fried foods cooked in condensed milk, mango sauce, and coconut milk, making it even unhealthier. It raises calories and blood sugar.
Rice is a staple in many countries and cultures and symbolizes prosperity and nourishment. There are numerous varieties of rice with varying nutritional values and purposes. Consuming whole grains rather than refined ones is healthier and reduces the risk of obesity and heart disease. They also contain antioxidants that combat disease. The healthy varieties of rice mentioned above can greatly improve your diet and health.