Rice, without question, is the staple food in Asia.
In fact, half the world’s human population depends on this unassuming grain as a primary source of food. The average Asian also eats more than thirty times the amount of rice as the average European.
Did you know that there are 40,000 known varieties of rice? So, which ones are the best for your health?
Long-grain rice has the lowest glycaemic index compared to the shorter grain varieties. This means it gets converted into sugar more slowly, releasing energy steadily into the bloodstream and keeping you full longer. So if you have to eat white rice, go for the long-grain version.
The healthiest option though, is actually brown rice. Brown rice has thrice the amount of fibre, more calcium, phosphorus and vitamin E than white rice. Due to its higher fibre content (which slows the absorption of sugar into the body), brown rice is often recommended for diabetics. The oil in rice bran is also believed to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Whichever type of rice you choose, all contain the eight essential amino acids for building muscle and amounts of B Vitamins, phosphorus, iron and potassium. Rice is also naturally gluten-free, low in sodium and almost fat-free, so go ahead and enjoy this grain in moderation!
Most common grains fall into the following categories:
Short-grain rice has a length less than twice the width, and is often associated with Japanese and Korean cuisines. Compared with its longer-grain counterparts, it has a higher percentage of amylopectin. Amylopectin is a starch component that gives short-grain rice its signature sticky texture when cooked.
Brown rice undergoes minimal processing, so it retains the bran and endogerm. The brown rice we usually see is brown long-grain rice, but there are also shorter-grain versions, which are not as popular. Brown rice has a chewy texture.
With a length of two to three times the width, this type of rice is much less commonly eaten locally. You may have seen the American medium-grain rice on supermarket shelves. Originating from California, it is sold under the name ‘Calrose’.