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Rice: How healthy is he?

by Josephine Andrews
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Rice is a popular staple food. It is available in many different variants. However, only a few of them end up on the plate. You can find out here which varieties these are, whether rice is healthy and what nutrients it contains.

How healthy is rice?

How healthy rice is depends on what kind it is and how much of it you eat. Basically, according to the German Society for Nutrition, rice is part of a balanced diet, which advises you to give preference to the whole grain version, i.e. brown rice, due to the higher nutrient density and the better satiety effect.

Among other things, the following positive health effects are attributed to brown rice:

Keeps blood sugar under control

Because of its higher fiber content, brown rice causes blood sugar to rise and fall more slowly. This not only prevents food cravings, but can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Good for heart health

Whole grains like brown rice positively affect cholesterol levels, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease. The reason for this is probably the vegetable oil that the rice kernels provide, which helps reduce LDL cholesterol, which is considered harmful.

The magnesium and thiamine found in brown rice are also important for good heart function and normal blood pressure.

Rich in antioxidants

Rice contains various antioxidants . These are plant compounds that scavenge free radicals in the body. Free radicals are aggressive oxygen compounds that are caused, for example, by environmental pollutants, smoking or UV radiation.

If they get the upper hand, oxidative stress develops, which in turn causes the skin to age faster and can cause various diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) or joint wear (arthrosis).

Stops Cancer

Brown rice arguably has the potential to prevent the development of cancer. On the one hand, this is due to certain bioactive molecules contained in the grains that can slow down the development of cancer cells.

On the other hand, brown rice contains manganese and selenium, both of which fight free radicals, which are considered to be a cause of cancer. The higher fiber content in brown rice also supports gut health — which could reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Keeps digestion going

Brown rice provides water-insoluble dietary fiber . They increase the stool volume because the intestinal bacteria do not process them – in contrast to water-soluble dietary fiber. A bulky stool stimulates intestinal movement and digestion gets going.

Holds the fort with gastritis and co

People with impaired digestion, for example after gastrointestinal surgery, constipation caused by colon cancer, or an inflammatory gastrointestinal condition such as gastritis, find white rice an easily digestible food option.

Keeps pain at bay

Rice may help reduce pain associated with gout as part of a low-purine diet. Gout occurs when so much uric acid circulates in the body that it can no longer break it down.

Uric acid, in turn, is formed through the breakdown of purines, which are organic compounds that are mainly found in meat and fish – but not in rice.

What are the nutritional values ​​of rice?

Both white and brown rice are mostly carbohydrates and some protein , but hardly any fat. In terms of calorie content, there are hardly any differences between the two types of rice:

100 grams of raw rice contains approximately 340 to 350 calories (kcal). A 125 gram bag of rice has about 440 calories. Cooked rice provides about 140 to 160 calories per 100 grams.

The number of calories in raw rice varies between different varieties:

  • Basmati rice and jasmine rice have around 345 calories
  • Sticky rice about 334 calories
  • red and black rice about 378 calories

The significant difference between cooked and raw rice is due to the fact that the rice grains absorb a lot of water during cooking – and that has no calories.

Both types of rice contain approximately the following main nutrients per 100 grams of raw product:

  • White rice : 6.8 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat, 77.7 grams of carbohydrates (including 1.4 grams of fiber)
  • Brown rice : 7.2 g protein, 2.2 g fat, 74.1 g carbohydrate (of which 2.2 g fiber)

For every 100 grams of cooked rice you consume approximately these amounts of macronutrients:

  • White rice : 2.7 grams protein, 0.3 grams fat, 28.2 grams carbohydrates (of which 0.4 grams fiber)
  • Brown rice : 2.6 grams protein, 0.9 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates (of which 1.8 grams fiber)

carbohydrates

The main ingredient in rice is carbohydrate, mostly in the form of starch. This consists of two long-chain multiple sugars which, depending on the proportion, remain harder or softer and stickier when the rice is cooked.

fiber

Dietary fiber is plant fiber that the body cannot process. Brown rice contains more than white rice, but still relatively little. Compared to rice, for example, bulgur provides significantly more with about the same number of calories. But: The dietary fiber in the rice naturally also supports digestion.

A special form of dietary fiber is resistant starch. This develops when starchy foods are heated and cooled again. It passes through the small intestine undigested and when it is broken down in the large intestine, butyrate or butyric acid is formed. This is a short-chain fatty acid and the main source of energy for intestinal cells. Butyrate thus strengthens the intestinal barrier. It is also said to prevent inflammation in the intestines.

protein

Rice contains a small amount of protein, so it’s not a great source of protein, either brown or white. Basically, protein fills you up and supports muscle building and maintenance.

Fett

Fat is present in rice in such a small amount that its value in terms of contribution to the daily diet can be neglected. However, fat is not inherently bad and is part of a wholesome diet. Be sure to eat mostly unsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy. They are contained in oily fish, nuts or olive oil, among other things.

More nutrients of brown and white rice

In addition to the main nutrients above, rice contains other ingredients. 100 grams of uncooked rice contain, among other things, around:

White rice Brown rice
Calcium 6 mg 16 mg
Eisen 0,6 mg 3,2 mg
folic acid 11 µg 18,2 µg
Potassium 92 mg 238 mg
Magnesium 24 mg 119 mg
Mangan 0,7 µg 2,0 µg
Sodium 6 mg 10 mg
Niacin 3,5 mg 5,2 mg
Phosphor 94 mg 282 mg
Selenium 14 µg 11,7 µg
Thiamin (Vitamin B1) 0,44 mg 0,41 mg
Vitamin B6 0,1 mg 0,3 mg
Zink 0,8 mg 1,4 mg

Brown rice is also a good source of two antioxidants, lignan and ferulic acid.

Does Rice Help You Lose Weight?

Does rice help you lose weight? As is so often the case, the answer to this question is: It depends. Rice contains a lot of carbohydrates. If the body gets more of it than it needs for immediate energy production, it stores it in the form of fat.

So if you eat a lot of white rice and don’t exercise much, you’ll probably even gain weight. However, in moderation, brown rice can help you lose weight. Because the fiber fills you up and stimulates digestion.

There is even a diet that is based on rice as the main component: Read the article Rice diet – how it works to find out how much rice you should eat per day with such a rice diet , and whether it makes sense and is effective .

what is rice

Grains from plants of the genus Oryza sativa are referred to as rice. In many countries, rice is the main food – for example in Asian countries like Japan. In Germany, per capita consumption in 2020/21 was 6.7 kilos.

The rice found in the diet can be roughly divided according to the way it is processed – white rice and brown rice. Both come from the same grain, but the white rice goes through more processing steps.

white rice

For the outer rice, the outer layer (husk), germ and silver skin are removed. The rice is then polished. This makes it easier to cook and lasts longer. What remains after this process is the starchy endosperm, the core of the rice grain.

Accordingly, white rice lacks nutrients such as minerals and vitamins that brown rice still contains, as these are mainly found under the husk and silver skin. White rice varieties include, among others

  • Basmati rice and jasmine rice (long grain rice with a fragrant aroma)
  • Risotto rice (medium length grain processed to retain more starch for smoother cooking).

White rice is sometimes a better option for people who need to maintain a low-fiber, easily digestible diet temporarily or long-term. Because it is slightly constipating, white rice can also help with diarrhea.

If the white rice is parboiled, this means that it has been steamed under pressure using a special process. As a result, the minerals from the shell or the silver skin get into the endosperm. In this way, a large part of the valuable ingredients should be preserved despite peeling.

The rice is also easier to handle because, among other things, it is less sticky. However, the parboiling process also loses its aroma and taste.

Brown rice

The brown rice is the unprocessed, kind of whole grain variety. Here, too, the outer layer is sanded off. However, the seedling and silver skin remain. There are varieties whose grains are actually brown, but the term also includes other colors such as red rice, purple rice, or black rice. The intact kernels will take a little longer to cook. They taste nuttier and are harder to chew.

Because brown rice has even more components, it provides more nutrients than white rice. Although it ends up on the plate less often than white rice, various studies have shown that it is the rice variant with a greater positive effect on health.

Long, medium and short grain rice

Another subdivision of rice can be made based on grain length, there is

  • Long Grain Rice: It has slender grains that are significantly longer than they are wide. Such rice is fluffy after cooking and does not stick together. This includes basmati.
  • Medium Grain Rice: This type is slightly shorter than long grain rice, the core is slightly wider. It has a semi-sticky consistency after cooking, which makes it suitable for risotto, for example. The Arborio variety is an example of this.
  • Short or short grain rice: It is wider than long and becomes sticky and soft when cooked. A typical example is rice for sushi.

You should keep this in mind with rice!

  • Rice is both gluten-free and hypoallergenic and virtually histamine-free. This means that in most cases allergy sufferers can also eat it. Since rice is well tolerated, babies can also be fed it from the fifth to seventh month.
  • Since rice has a fairly high carbohydrate content, it is not suitable for a low-carb diet. But there are low-carb rice alternatives, for example cauliflower rice, which consists of the finely chopped vegetables.
  • Rice is not a raw food. You should not eat rice raw and undercooked. For one thing, it’s not very enjoyable to chew on the hard kernels. On the other hand, a certain bacterium (Bacillus cereus) can sit on raw rice and give you food poisoning.
  • Rice is a staple in many places — but not always a risk-free one. Depending on the growing area and the soil, it can contain pollutants such as heavy metals (arsenic, lead or mercury), which accumulate in the body. Since these contaminants are mainly found under the husk, brown rice is more likely to be contaminated.
  • So be careful with (brown) rice during pregnancy: If it comes from an area where it accumulates a lot of arsenic, the pollutant can lead to the child being born smaller and with a weaker immune system. Therefore, always wash the rice well, boil it in plenty of water and rinse it again after cooking – even if this affects the taste.
  • Brown rice contains phytic acid. This is a phytochemical that is said to prevent the body from absorbing other nutrients such as iron or zinc. It is considered a so-called antinutrient. Too much of it can create deficiencies.
  • White rice may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. Since it contains a lot of carbohydrates but little fiber, it causes blood sugar to skyrocket. The body secretes insulin to move sugar from the blood into the cells. In the long run, the body cells become insensitive to insulin, and the body produces more insulin until it is overloaded.

Should you wash rice?

Whether you should wash the rice again before cooking depends, among other things, on the type of rice. You do not need to wash rice, which should be creamy and sticky when cooked. These include, for example, milk or risotto rice. Because by washing you remove the starch necessary for the smoothness.

If you want the rice to remain fluffy and grainy, for example with jasmine or basmati rice, you should wash it beforehand to remove some of the starch. In addition, rice is basically a natural product that may be dusty or otherwise contaminated. So washing doesn’t hurt, especially with whole grain varieties and during pregnancy.

To do this, put the rice in cold, clear water, wait until it becomes cloudy and then strain it. Repeat this process until the water runs clear. Alternatively, you can put the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold running water until it runs clear.

But you shouldn’t overdo it. Because excessive washing can wash out water-soluble vitamins (such as the B vitamins) with it.

preparation and storage

Rice is quite frugal. Especially in the raw state, it can be stored well and for a long time. The preparation is also uncomplicated. However, there are a few things to note.

Store rice properly

Uncooked, raw rice is a very durable food. White rice usually doesn’t go bad at all. This is because it no longer has any husks and therefore no oils that could go rancid. It’s different with brown rice, but it also lasts around six months, and possibly longer in the refrigerator.

In the case of instant rice that is already (partly) pre-cooked, the best-before date is printed on the packaging.

Once you have opened the rice packaging, store the rice in a cool, dark and dry place, preferably in a tightly sealed container so that no moisture can get to the grains. Check the rice regularly.

If you discover small animals or mold, it belongs in the dustbin. Cooked rice is spoiled if it has an oily texture or smells musty. If you want to store cooked rice, it belongs in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to two days, or in the freezer. It can be eaten there for around six months.

To prevent bacteria from forming beforehand, do not leave the rice in the pot on the stove for too long, but spread out the cooked leftovers on a baking sheet, for example, immediately after consumption. This makes it flatter and it cools down faster. Then put it in an airtight container and refrigerate.

What is the best way to prepare rice?

The classic method of preparing rice is to boil it or steam it – usually in a 2:1 ratio of water to rice. Follow the directions on the packaging for preparation and cooking time.

To cook it in water, bring it to a boil and then add the raw rice. Turn the heat down to medium, cover the pot and let the rice simmer until it reaches your desired consistency. You may need to add water. Brown rice usually takes a little longer to cook.

When steaming, the rice does not come into direct contact with the water, but only with steam. You can either steam rice in a saucepan with water at the bottom and a steamer insert with the rice at the top. A special rice steamer or a bamboo basket are also suitable. Advantage of steaming: No nutrients are lost through the cooking water.

If you want the rice to be even tastier, replace part of the water with meat or vegetable stock or white wine. This is a popular trick, especially when preparing risotto.

If you want to reheat rice that has already been cooked, put it in a saucepan with some liquid and heat it on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Stir it with the fork so that the rice heats up evenly and does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.

For the microwave, use a heatproof container and put it in for about a minute at a high temperature. Caution: Heat the rice to at least 70 to 75 degrees to ensure they kill any disease-causing bacteria that may have built up on the rice.

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