Rice is often avoided by those on low carb diets but it’s seriously under rated- especially brown, unrefined rice. It’s been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, provide fibre, B vitamins and vitamin E in the diet and can help to prevent obesity. So why does it have such a bad rap?
White, refined rice has been stripped of nutrients and is a higher GI than it’s brown counterpart. White rice became popular in Asian countries when only the rich could afford it- it became a status symbol that has (thankfully) now started to slide. Brown rice takes a little longer to cook and has more texture than white. It has a stronger flavour too and make a healthy, cheap filler ingredient to meat based or low fibre dishes. It’s best soaked before cooking to dissolve the phytic acids (these bind to other nutrients and stop you absorbing them).
What you need to know:
Methionine, insoluble fibre (3.5g/100g), phytoestrogens, gamma-oryzanol, alpha lipoic acid, antioxidants. Contains superoxide dismutase, coenzyme Q10, proanthocyanidins, lecithin. Also contains phytic acid unless previously soaked or sprouted- this may be advisable to prevent inhibition of absorption of major nutrients. Contains lignans, terpenes, coumarins.
Major Nutritional Values:
- Energy (1548kj/100g)
- Protein (approx 7g/100g)
- Carbohydrate (77.24g/100g)
- Fat (2.92g/100g including 0.584 saturated)
- High in B1, B3, B5, B6 and Biotin
- Some B2, little or no B12
- Some Vitamin E (1.2mg/100g)
- Magnesium (143mg/100g), Manganese (3.74mg/100g), Potassium (223mg/100g), Zinc (2.02mg/100g), Iron (1.47mg/100g), Phosphorous (333mg/100g), Copper (0.277mg/100g), Calcium (23mg/100mg), Selenium (23.4mcg/100g, depending on soil), Silicon
- o The bran coating on wholegrain rice contains lowers blood sugar levels.
- o The oil of rice contains an antioxidant that neutralises lipid peroxides of fats and oils- this counteracts excess cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol.
- o Brown rice contains polysaccharides, a high density form of complex carbohydrate that is high in fibre.
- o Fibre in brown rice helps to lower cholesterol, prevent obesity and improve digestion.
- o B vitamins support the central nervous system and promote calmness.
- o The Vitamin E contained in rice is a unique form called ‘tocotrienols’, that help to lower excess fat and cholesterol in the body.
- o Gamma-oryzanolis an antioxidant that helps to transform fat into lean body mass and helps to strengthen muscle.
- o Alpha lipoic acid assists liver restoration, converts glucose to energy and slows the ageing process.
- o Coenzyme Q10 assists the cellular mitochondria and protects mitochondrial DNA.
- o Lecithin is important for brain function and may be used for enhancing brain activity.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Rice is a grain that is gluten free, but high in nutrients when in it’s unrefined state. It can be used as a flour for those with gluten sensitivity. Rice milk is also commonly used by those with milk intolerance and is a nutritious substitute that is low in fat. Eating wholegrains like brown rice replaces higher kilojoule, lower nutrient foods like refined white rice or processed foods. It is inexpensive and easy to cook, making it an easy way for most people to increase fibre and nutrient intake.
Whole, unsoaked brown rice contains phytic acid, a Phytochemical that may bind to iron and calcium, depleting it’s absorption by the body. This can be avoided by soaking or sprouting the rice prior to eating it.
*Nutrient levels taken from this USDA site. Rice is a food and not designed to treat or cure any medical condition. It’s a healthy carb but should still be eaten in moderate amounts!