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The Health Benefits of Rice

Talk about the merits of white rice with folks who pay attention to their diets, and chances are the decision will be a split one. Some will think rice is healthy and a good choice for keeping weight down. Others will believe it's an unhealthy dish that packs on the pounds.  What's the truth?

First, some background: Rice has fed more people, for a longer period of time, than any other crop on the face of the earth. It can be traced back to 2500 BC. Since it thrives in variety of climates and landscapes, it is the most eaten food on the planet. A whopping three billion people consume rice on an everyday basis.

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However, the kind of white rice the average American eats (and we consume individually less than 25lbs. a year) is milled rice hat has had its husk removed. This is done largely to prevent spoilage and to extend the storage life of the grain. After milling, the rice is then polished resulting in a seed with a bright, white, shiny appearance. The problem is this polishing process removes important nutrients.

However, white rice is often enriched with some of the nutrients stripped from it during its processing. For example, it's always enriched with B-1, B-3 and iron because that's required by law in the United States.

On the plus side, white rice is not fattening if you eat a proper portion.  On the downside, it rates high on the glycemic scale and that increases the blood sugar level in our bodies. For this reason, rice is never recommended for people with sugar issues.

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If you enjoy rice, especially with a healthy meal like stir-fried vegetables, and want to keep it as part of your diet, there are ways to get the most benefits out of this simple, inexpensive food. Here's how:

--One serving should be measured as one cup of cooked rice. That comes to 204 calories.

--Boil the rice with excess water and drain the water after the rice is cooked to keep the starch levels low.

--Eat steamed rice or boiled rice -- not fattening fried rice.

--Add a fibrous food along with it for faster digestion such as vegetables or tofu.



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