Rice: Learn More About Its Importance in the Human Diet

Rice is one of the most important cereals in the human diet and contributes very effectively to the daily caloric intake that most people need. That’s why it’s used as the main accompaniment in many meals, such as meat, chicken, or fish dishes.

Rice is the ripe fruit of a cereal plant known as Oryza sativa, a plant that began to be cultivated 7,000 years ago in Southwest Asia and spread to India and other Asian countries.

Furthermore centuries later, this cereal was introduced in Europe in the Middle Ages, and then it was exported to America in the 16th century, during the time of colonization. Today, this cereal is cultivated in more than 40 countries.

In this article you will learn valuable information about white rice and we will explain how it’s beneficial to your bodily health if you want to maintain a healthy diet.

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Rice: Many Varieties, Many Properties

The different types of rice that exist are classified according to size into three main groups: short-grain rice, medium-grain rice, and long-grain rice. However, we will also name other rice varieties that don’t belong to any size classification.

Brown Rice

This is rice that is husked and clean, but not polished, and dark in color. It preserves most of its cuticle or bran, so it is the one that provides more fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

White Rice

This one is obtained after husking and subsequent whitening and polishing of the rice grain. It is the most consumed variety, but has lower amounts of vitamins and proteins than brown rice. This category includes bomba or short-grain rice, and long-grain rice.

  • Short-Grain Rice: Tends to open up during cooking, to release its starch, and becomes mushy. This rice is preferred by many chefs because its grain absorbs the most broth of all the existing varieties and makes it the most flavorful.

  • Long-Grain White Rice (also called Indian): Is commonly consumed in Northern Europe, America, and India. It withstands cooking very well and once cooked, is looser due to its high amylase content.

Wild Rice

Also known as Zizania rice. It grows wild in the northern lakes of the American continent. Its flavor is very pleasant and it has a crunchy texture.

Jasmine Rice

This is a long, and fine grain rice from Thailand. It gives off a jasmine aroma after cooking and is one of the most exquisite types of rice.

Basmati Rice

This is a long grain type of rice, with a pearly white exterior. This variety is extensively grown in India and Pakistan. It is also considered an exquisite rice, therefore used in countless dishes in that region of Asia and globally too.

How Healthy is Rice, Actually?

From a nutritional point of view, rice is particularly rich in complex carbohydrates (70-80%), such as starch, which provides most of its energy value. These complex carbohydrates are digested slowly, giving the body a constant level of glucose.

This cereal is very low in fat, representing only 0.2% of its nutrient content and it doesn’t contain cholesterol. The protein content of rice is 7%, and it’s deficient in the essential amino acid lysine. However, by combining it with other foods, such as legumes, it is possible to obtain a protein of excellent protein quality.

Its richness in fiber is especially significant. In the case of whole grains, it represents 1.4g/100g, compared to the 0.5g/100g fiber content of white rice. This higher fiber content gives a valuable contribution to the proper functioning of the intestines, preventing constipation problems.

As for its mineral content, rice has a high amount of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Also, it has a large profile of B group vitamins, particularly vitamin B1 or thiamine, as well as B2, B6, E, and especially folic acid and niacin.

Ever been on a rice diet? What is your favourite rice dish? Do you have a favourite type of rice? Let us know in the comments below! 

Monica Smith

Monica is a freelance journalist with a background in fashion, arts and lifestyle journalism. She is going to study Nutrition and Health at Roehampton University, and is gearing towards health journalism. Currently, she is an avid runner, climber, training for many races and OCR races including Tough Mudder which she is running for MIND. Additionally, her interests go into health and obesity management for children and adolescents.

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