Rice is a staple part of the daily diet in most part of the world, especially Africa.
Despite popular belief, rice can be a part of your diet when you want to lose weight. However, there are many varieties and it’s important to recognize their attributes as not all are equally healthy.
I will be discussing more on white rice and its alternatives.
White rice is refined in production which means that the husk, bran, and germ layers are all removed and left with the white inner kernel. This Process strips it of much of its nutritional value as the bran layer is very rich in nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, and iron.
It is also considered a high glycemic index food or is a rapidly digested carbohydrate, meaning it is rapidly broken down into sugar in the body causing fast and furious increases in blood sugar and insulin that, in the short term, can aggravate hunger which leads to overeating, and over time, increases the risk of weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Foods with a high glycemic index can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and so should be avoided or eaten in moderation.
Eating white rice on a regular basis may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, according to new studies by Harvard School of Public Health. It found out that people who increased daily servings of white rice over time had higher blood pressure and higher levels of sugar and harmful fats in their blood—warning signs for type 2 diabetes.
In the diet and lifestyle change study, people who increased their consumption of refined grains (such as white rice) gained more weight over time. People who decreased their intake of these foods gained less weight.
White Rice Alternatives
Brown rice is superior to white rice when it comes to fiber content, minerals, vitamins, and it often does not generate as large an increase in blood sugar levels after a meal. The high fiber in brown rice helps to slow the rush of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream. Brown rice is, therefore, a much better partner for weight loss than its white counterpart. Not surprisingly, it’s also really good for your health but not as tasty as white rice. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say eating two or more servings of brown rice weekly seems to be associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, they report, eating five or more servings of white rice per week is associated with an increased risk.
Locally grown rice (ofada rice, ekoma rice, abakaliki rice)
The grains of locally grown rice are not polished or refined. It’s low in calories, high in fiber and aids digestion. It’s also extremely rich in antioxidants and much tastier than brown rice. In most cases, local rice is healthier and better for weight loss than any other type.
Basmati is a very aromatic and flavourful species of rice, mostly of Indian or Pakistani descent. Basmati is relatively pricey. It is sold in a white (ground & polished) as well as a whole (uncut and unpolished) form. The brown basmati version is a better choice over the white basmati for weight loss.
Remember, It’s all about eating the right variety or right quantity (see portion control) and not cutting it out completely. One should try to make a switch from eating refined carbs like white rice to eating more whole grains like brown rice or our locally grown rice which is affordable.