Brown Rice Keeps You Away From Obesity, Diabetes and Cancer

Till recently, eating rice in Telugu speaking areas meant eating brown rice. This was the same case with Indians too. Things changed only a few decades back, where slowly but increasingly Indians got out of eating brown rice. This was made possible because of the invention of the rice mill in Scotland in the year 1860. Though it was invented over a century back, it took many decades before people slowly got out of the habit of eating brown rice.

People started using white rice because it is tasty, can be stored for longer time than brown rice, and more over it takes less time to cook. Maybe, it also had a snob appeal at one time that, eating white rice was considered more sophisticated than eating brown rice. Though white rice is popular, it has many disadvantages from a nutritional point of view.

Disadvantages of white rice

  • White rice is rich in complex carbohydrates, which gets changed in to blood glucose within few minutes after the food is taken. So, for people with diabetes, white rice is not suggested.
  • White rice has high value of Glycemic index (87). Hence, regular consumption, increases the risk of diabetes and also increases weight. A research from Harvard University also showed that regular intake of white rice increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Low nutritional value when compared to brown rice.

Brown rice
Brown rice or hulled rice, which is called as Mudi Biyyam in Telugu is produced by minimal processing either by machine, or by hand pounding. During the processing, only the hull or the husk of the paddy grain is removed and hence it is called as least processed form of rice. Under the hull, there lies a brown layer called as ‘bran’ layer, which is usually removed while polishing to produce white rice. But, in case of Brown rice, the bran layer, which is said to have rich fibre content, is retained and hence makes the brown rice more nutritional. Instead of using machine, if the rice is processed using some hand techniques, then it is called hand pounded rice.

Why Brown rice is more expensive than white rice?
As brown rice requires less processing, don’t assume that it costs less than white rice. Brown rice has a shorter shelf life due to some oil content in the bran layer and hence more resources are required to preserve its quality during storage and transportation. This increases the price of the rice. Moreover, due to the increased demand for white rice it is produced in larger scale, leaving the brown rice as a premium product.

Why Brown rice takes long time for cooking?
Brown rice has a slightly chewy texture and nut like flavor and it takes approximately 40-45 minutes to cook one cup of rice, provided if it is soaked 30 minutes before cooking. The high fiber and the oil content of the bran layers increases the cooking time of brown rice when compared to white rice.

Telugu people, especially in cities, believe brown rice to be the same as parboiled rice. This is false, parboiled rice is a totally different item. Difference between white rice and parboiled rice is outlined below for your convenience.

Difference between white rice and parboiled rice

  • White Rice vs. Brown Rice

    White Rice vs. Brown Rice

    White rice: To get white rice from brown rice, the inner part of grain, germ and the inner covering of grain, husk (bran) are removed. Later the grain is polished with glucose or talc. The complete pounding and polishing (refining) that takes place to convert brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.

  • Parboiled rice: Parboiled or steamed or boiled rice, popularly called as Uppudu Biyyam in Telugu, is another type of rice which undergoes three different processes – soaking, steaming and drying. Paddy is soaked for three days and then it is pressure steamed followed by mechanical drying. Then they are processed in the same way as that of white rice. During this process the rice obtains light yellow color. Following are few advantages of eating Parboiled rice.

    Advantage of eating Parboiled rice

    1. Parboiled rice is soaked and steamed along with the husk. This process drives the beneficial fibres and nutrients in the husk and the bran layer in to the rice. Hence parboiled rice is 80% nutritionally similar to brown rice.
    2. It contains essential elements like vitamin B, thiamine and niacin which are helpful for good metabolism and nerve function.
    3. Due to the process of parboiling, the starch in the grain remains in the gelatin form, which makes it easily digestible.
    4. Parboiled rice comes under the category of low GI foods, which makes it a good option for diabetic patients.

Benefits of eating Brown rice

  • Brown rice is a high fibre diet, which helps in reducing the possibility of heart diseases, avoids abrupt spikes in sugar levels, helps digestion and reduces constipation.
  • It contains essential nutrients like Manganese (88%), selenium (27.3%), magnesium (20.9%), and tryptophan (18.7%) in one cup of rice. Manganese is useful to provide energy and antioxidant protection, while Selenium reduces the risk of colon cancer.
  • The oil in the whole brown rice helps in reducing cholesterol.
  • Eating a serving of brown rice, at least 6 times a week is especially useful for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Due to its low Glycemic index and high cereal fiber content, it reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • The insoluble fibres in Brown rice are helpful for the women to prevent gallstones.
  • Brown rice is the complete source, which has one of the most essential amino acids present in any vegetarian food.
  • Vital vitamin E components and many valuable nutrients are present in brown rice.

Brown rice is not easy to find in Hyderabad market:
So far everything looks fine. The difficult part for you will be to find brown rice in the Hyderabad market. Very few places actually stock brown rice. We could only find it regularly in SPAR super market. We could find it occasionally in regular supermarkets like Spencers, More and other super markets. You can also try your luck at the specialist rice stores like Paddyzz, in your area – the ones that sell the dozens of varieties of rice.

Additional benefits of brown rice – from practical point of view:
When cooked, brown rice has a slight smell. It is not refined like white rice where all the nutrients layers are removed so it can taste bland. It will feel a bit odd, but take it, it is good for your health.

Two things you will notice with brown rice is – it will force you to mix it with more sambar or dal and more curry to get the taste of food (you were used to earlier). This is good, because it is causing you take more proteins and vegetables that are more healthy. Second, you get satiated more quickly than with white rice – you cannot over eat even if the curry is very tasty! Again a plus point from a heath perspective.

Republished with permission from The write-up is modified from the original text to make it relevant for Hyderabad audience.

Additional resources:
Benefits of brown rice

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