Regular rice is much maligned and is fast being dropped in favour of its unpolished avatar. But are the charges valid? Sports nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar separates the grain from the husk
The Chinese eat rice with every meal, breakfast included, and the average Chinese on the street is thin, if not skinny. In our country, however, we are getting skeptical about rice and yes, we are all getting fatter. We either give up rice or replace it with wheat or ‘brown’ rice. What is wrong with this approach?
Replacing rice with wheat is not a good idea since it means reducing your intake of amino acids (protein’s building blocks) and Vitamin B. As for brown rice, it has the outer layer (husk and bran) intact thereby making it high in fibre. Now of course we want fibre but if your rice has more fibre than you can digest, brown rice will only cause indigestion. On the other hand, rice that emits blinding whiteness may not be the best source of nutrients either.
Thus, to get the best of both worlds, polish your rice to the extent that helps it retain its nutrients (proteins, Vitamin B and fibre) and looks brownish or reddish. Remove the outer bran but allow the rice grain to show off its brown/red strains. Don’t worry, this won’t compromise the taste and yes, you can eat basmati rice with the brown/red strains as well.
The protein in this rice (red-rice or hand-polished rice) is absorbed much better by your body than in brown rice. It is also way easier to cook and digest as compared to brown rice. It is easy to digest, easy to absorb, easy to assimilate proteins from and easier on your excretory system too. This is exactly how the farming community of India eats its rice.
In fact, Ayurveda uses ricebased diets in treating various imbalances in the body.
Dal-chawal is a nutritious meal, possessing the entire spectrum of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It also accelerates fat burning. In fact, the essential amino acid methionine found pre-dominantly in rice helps mobilize fat from the liver. As India is dominantly vegetarian, getting proteins from rice, especially the essential amino acid methionine and the conditionally essential amino acid (becomes essential under conditions of stress) tyrosine is crucial for us. Diabetics should also eat rice since they need these proteins.
Know that rice is not a bad thing. The bad thing is when we mindlessly decide if one thing is good for us and that if we do it a lot, it becomes only better. We do that with rice so often now. A humble dal chawal meal is so satiating that it makes you eat slower and improves your chances of eating the right amount (the cornerstones of fat loss or accelerated metabolism, good digestion and health itself).
Rice is auspicious in both China and India: the dead are offered rice to wish them good health for life outside their physical selves. It is sad then, that in India, even when we are still in our bodies, we make fads out of rice.