(Most people avoid rice because it is considered a bad carbohydrate which makes you put on weight – is that true?)
Most carbohydrates like wheat, rice, and other cereal like corn and millets contain a similar amount of carbohydrates and calories when compared by weight. Why, then, is rice considered to be bad for health when you are on a diet?
Rice in different cultures
Most rice growing countries depend on rice as their primary source of carbohydrates. Thailand, China, the Indian subcontinent, many parts of Europe and the Americas grown and eat rice. In fact many countries south east and Far East Asia start their morning with rice. Even traditional British households may include kedgeree in their breakfast menu.
The rice may be long grained, short-grained, round rice or gelatinous rice, depending on the country’s climate and so influences their regional dietary preferences. In Italy, for instance, the risotto is made of Arborio rice, which requires a great deal of cooking and when done has a sticky texture.
Why is rice bad for you?
Rice, in its natural state, has vitamins, minerals and proteins. However, the white rice which is used for cooking has been stripped of a lot of its nutritional value, leaving only carbohydrates behind. It goes through a laborious processing process including dehusking and polishing.
As a refined food, rice is not good for health. It lacks fiber and other nutrients. Too much of refined foods result in an overload of simple carbohydrates which are not good for digestion.
Another reason rice is bad for you
Since rice is difficult to portion, you can easily end up eating a lot more than you intended. It is not easy to estimate how much you would normally eat, unlike say bread or chapattis.
As rice is easily digested, you may eat what you think is a sufficient quantity and feel hungry shortly after. Then you will eat more food, thus increasing your calorie count.
How to eat rice the proper way
Avoid eating refined and polished rice. If you eat brown rice, it is much better for health because it ha more nutritional value and more fiber. Brown rice is as healthy as whole wheat.
Have steamed or boiled rice, whose water has not been discarded, instead of rice which is heavy in fats. You can also overload your rice with lots of vegetables which not only add color but also nutritional value. Colored vegetables are a good source of phytonutrients and antioxidants. You can also add white shredded meat to your rice to make a complete meal.
Rice is also easier to digest and is one of the first foods given to infants. It can also be cooked in a variety of ways since it has a relatively neutral taste and is a major source of carbohydrates. Cultures world-wide cook and eat different kinds of rice and in many countries and regions it is a staple food.
So rice is not really bad for you when you are on a diet as long as you don’t over-indulge and exercise portion control.
Smiti Munwani has been writing for a very long time. She is a journalist, book author, content writer and dietitian. She has had two books published, The Snack-Time Cookbook and Count Your Calories to Slim and Stay Slim. She also has two books ready to be published, one on party menus and another on cooking for a healthy heart. She can be contacted via email: [email protected] if anybody is interested in re-publishing the books (she has the copyright) or requires any articles. She has written extensively for the print media and done web content writing.