There are so many myths surrounding rice that it has now become one of the most controversial foods. Despite being the second-highest producer of rice in the world, many Indians view rice with great scepticism and some avoid it altogether thanks to a range of misconceptions about its value in our diet. The truth is, rice is one of the most nutritionally rich and easy to digest food in the world. In this post we bust some of the common rice-myths, to let you start enjoying your favourite rice dishes again.
Myth #1: Rice is high in calories
Truth: Calorie-counting is an outdated and also largely incorrect method of losing weight or staying healthy. Eating high calorie foods does not make one put on weight. Weight loss or gain is not about the mathematics of calories in=calories out, it is a far more complicated process than that and involves multiple systems of the body. The truth is eating empty calories is what can cause the body to become unhealthy. While rice is high on calories, for each calorie, it is packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are extremely essential for the body. In fact the combination of dal-rice-ghee which is traditionally eaten in Indian families provides the body with all 22 amino acids (essential and non-essential) that the body needs. Avoiding rice simply because it is high in calories means you deprive your body of vital amino acids that are important for growth and repair.
Myth #2: Rice has too much starch; starch = sugar, so rice should be avoided.
Truth: Rice IS one of the starchiest foods in the world – containing about 25gms of carbohydrates in the form of starch in a 100 gm. However, the starch in rice is of a special type called ‘resistant starch’. Resistant starch acts like fiber, improving the body’s digestion and absorption, and also providing much-needed roughage. More importantly, rice is high on the Glycemic Index, that means, it delivers a slow and steady supply of glucose to the body, which is extremely beneficial for those trying to lose weight and also those trying to maintain their insulin levels.
Myth #3: Eating rice will make me put on weight OR I should stop eating rice to lose weight
Truth: By this logic, ALL South Indians must be fat because rice is their staple food!
Eating rice (or eating any particular type of food) cannot make someone put on or lose weight. Weight loss or staying healthy is a consequence of many different actions and reactions happening inside the body and it is not as simple as avoiding rice. Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutritious food however, is one of the best and proven ways to stay healthy. Research has proved time and again that rice is extremely nutritious, providing the body with a host of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and is great for maintaining blood sugar levels and a healthy immune system. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or stay healthy, rice HAS to be a part of your daily diet.
Myth#4: Rice is bad for diabetics
Truth: This misconception is related to rice being viewed as a starchy or high-sugar food. However, like mentioned before, food that are high on the Glycemic Index (GI) do NOT cause a surge in blood sugar. Despite being high on starch, they release this sugar slowly into the bloodstream keeping glucose and insulin levels steady. More importantly, rice is very easy to digest and is assimilated easily in the body – which makes it even better for diabetics who may suffer from gastro-intestinal problems.
Myth #5: Throwing away water that rice has been cooked in reduces its calories
Truth: Of all the myths surrounding rice, this is the most incorrect and also harmful. When you throw away the water that rice is cooked in, you’re throwing away vitamins, amino acids, minerals, resistant starch (fibre) and vital glucose – all of which are immensely important to your body. So essentially, the rice you end up eating gives your body nothing but empty calories, which is worse than not eating rice at all! Cooking rice with the water and consuming the water makes you eat less, feel full faster and also gives you all the nutrition rice has to offer
Now that your rice myths have been set right, you can enjoy your bowl of rice with confidence and without guilt!