Pregnancy is a period of life where the mother has to exercise extreme precaution in whatever she does. Every action of the mother impacts the child directly or indirectly. Extra care is needed when it comes to the intake of food. The mother’s food is the only source of nutrition for the child, and everything that is consumed is passed on to the growing baby. Therefore, it is important to know the benefits and side effects on the baby of each food item that is consumed during pregnancy.
Benefits of Eating Rice in Pregnancy
Rice forms an important part of the daily diet for many people. Being rich in many essential vitamins and nutrients, rice is also the staple food for a large population in the country. Consuming rice during pregnancy has its own benefits and risks.
Following are the benefits of eating rice during pregnancy:
- Rice is a good source of energy
High amount of carbohydrates in rice are a good source of energy to the body. Consuming rice will give you the strength and energy during pregnancy.
- Restricts constipation
The presence of resistant starch in rice facilitates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the stomach which helps in normal and smooth bowel movements during pregnancy. It also assists in better digestion of food.
- Helps strengthen bones
The presence of essential nutrients such as vitamin D, thiamine and riboflavin and minerals like calcium, fibre and iron make rice a nutrient-rich food which helps to strengthen bones and teeth.
- Helps control blood pressure
Rice helps to regulate blood pressure. Its low sodium content balances and reduces the effect of sodium intake from other food items.
- Helps in prevention of urino-genital infection
Rice is a natural diuretic, which means that it increases the frequency of urination. This helps in the prevention of urino-genital infection during pregnancy which can otherwise have an adverse impact on you and your baby.
- Immunity booster
Rice is rich in anti-oxidants which increase your immunity and help the body fight against infections and diseases. This is very important during pregnancy.
- Helps control blood sugar levels
In addition to white rice, eating brown rice during pregnancy has its own benefits. The presence of large insoluble fibres and low glycaemic content make brown rice an apt food to regulate sugar levels in the body. Brown rice especially helps in the mitigation of gestational diabetes which is common during pregnancy.
- Aids in the development of the brain and nervous system
Brown rice is a rich source of neurotransmitter nutrients which help in improving the baby’s cognitive functions and aid in the development of the brain. Brown rice is also a rich source of magnesium. This helps in the regulation of nerves and muscle tone and aids in keeping them relaxed.
- Helps prevent insomnia
Rice, especially brown rice, contains melatonin, a sleep hormone which relaxes the nerves and increases the sleep cycle, thereby enhancing the quality of sleep. This helps the mother to have sufficient rest.
- Restricts cholesterol problems
One of the biggest benefits of rice is that it is a cholesterol-free food. Eating rice will balance out cholesterol from other food items and keep the mother away from cholesterol-related issues.
Risks of Eating Rice When Pregnant
Rice should be consumed in limited quantities after being properly cooked. Overeating or eating raw rice during pregnancy can cause problems.
- Excess consumption of rice can lead to increase in weight and result in obesity for the mother. Consuming rice in limited quantities is important.
- While brown rice is good for controlling blood sugar, white rice, due to its higher glycaemic content, can increase the blood sugar levels and shoot up the chances of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
- Rice contains arsenic in substantial quantities. Arsenic can increase the chances of birth of a stillborn baby or result in premature death of the foetus. Therefore, overeating of rice should be avoided.
- Some pregnant women may have the urge to eat raw, uncooked rice – a craving that should be avoided. The side effects of eating uncooked rice during pregnancy include severe stomach pain and irreversible harm to the baby. Uncooked rice may contain a high amount of pesticides and chemicals which are not good for the health of the mother or the baby. It is best to stick to cooked rice only.
Rice is a superfood when consumed in proper quantities. Brown rice also has innumerable benefits and advantages over white rice and can be very beneficial for the mother and the baby. You should consult your doctor or dietitian to figure out how much quantity of rice is good for you. Also, ensure to buy rice which is which is free of chemicals and pesticides.