“Have you eaten rice yet?” This is our usual greetings when we run into our neighbors and friends. Rice, has been a staple in our diet. From a casual home-cook dinner to a formal wedding banquet, rice is often served. If you are a rice-lover and appreciate some variations to your dinner starch, read on. Let us show you some new and healthy rice alternatives.
Nutritionally, brown rice scores high in all aspects. White rice only contains endosperm, while brown rice contains all three parts of the rice kernel: endosperm + germ + bran; therefore brown rice is considered a type of whole grains. Keeping germ and bran retains about 25% more protein and 17 other nutrients, crowning brown rice a nutrition superstar in its category. In addition, brown rice also provides at least 2 times more dietary fibre; and the fibre retained in brown rice has a good portion of soluble fibre, helping our body maintain a good level of cholesterol as well as blood sugar. Replacing white rice with brown rice not only curbs hunger, it also provides an abundance of health benefits white rice simply can’t offer.
When brown rice is allowed to sprout or germinate, the process of germination changes the nutritional composition of the rice. In particular, germinated brown rice contains higher levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (a type of amino acid), magnesium, potassium, zinc, and more. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is called GABA in short, that’s why germinated brown rice is sometimes referred to as “GABA rice.” Note that this doesn’t mean regular brown rice lacks these nutrients; the sprouting process simply makes these nutrients more available for absorption. And since they are sprouted, their texture is relatively softer than regular rice. Therefore this is another great option of enjoy “softer” brown rice.
Not brown nor white, semi-brown rice sits right in the middle. Remember brown rice contains all 3 parts of the kernel while white rice contains only one part? Semi-brown rice contains 2 parts; some semi-brown rice products contain endosperm and bran (though less usual), most contain endosperm and germ. Therefore the latter sometimes may be listed as “rice with germ” or “embryo rice” on the ingredient list. Among the 3 parts of the rice kernel, germ may be the most nutritious. The germ is rather nutritionally-dense, weighing only 1% of the total weight while providing 30% of the nutrients. Compared to white rice, semi-brown rice provides more dietary fibre, vitamin E, as well as various B vitamins. Its glycemic index value is at 70, reasonably lower than white rice’s value of 83; however regular brown rice is still the lowest at 50. In addition, semi-brown rice is also much softer than regular brown rice, indeed it’s closer to white rice than brown rice in terms of texture, making it easy for families to switch without much objection from other family members.
If you love white rice but isn’t quite ready switch to any types of brown rice yet, another option would be Low-GI white rice. This specific brand of rice is grown in the Australian cool temperature region, helping the crops boost their amylose content. Amylose is a type of complex starch; in a nutshell, the more amylose present in the rice, the slower it takes our body to digest it. Higher amylose and slightly higher protein content enable this white rice to a naturally lower glycemic index value of 54 (under 55 is considered low). The lower the GI value of a food, the longer our body absorbs into our bloodstream, helping to prevent drastic fluctuations of blood sugar levels.
Basmati rice is a long grain grown in India and the surrounding region. Although available in both brown and white version, most basmati rice sold in Hong Kong is white rice. Structurally, basmati rice has the longest grains of any rice; it is also quite narrow, with pointed ends rather than round ends. Basmati rice is truly fragrant once cooked, and this floral aromatic feature comes from an aging process which takes one to two years after harvest. Due to its unique long-grain structure as well as the aging process, the glycemic index value of basmati rice is lower at 58. Therefore basmati rice also serves as a healthy alternative to regular white rice for those who need to monitor their blood sugar levels.
Regarded as “forbidden rice” and served only to the emperor of China, black rice was considered a delicacy in the ancient times. Similar to brown rice, it contains all 3 parts of the rice kernel, therefore it is a type of whole grains. Once cooked it turns to purple in color, hence it is also referred as purple rice. There are plenty of reasons to its fame; aside from its unique color, black rice fares even better nutritionally than brown rice.
Compared to brown rice, black rice contains even more protein and fiber, with a GI value of 43, the lowest among most rice varieties. Its dark purple color also provides anthocyanins, the same antioxidant found in blueberries and eggplants. The best feature of black rice, is that they are often medium-grain, reasonably softer than the longer-grain whole rice such as red rice.
Don’t confuse black rice with wild rice, which is a seed botanically rather than rice. Wild rice is pointy and narrow and does not absorb much water during cooking, while black rice resembles other rice which will become softer after cooked.
Red rice is a type of long-grain rice that also contains all 3 parts of the rice kernel. The term “cargo” indeed referred to the fact that red rice is often shipped in bulk in cargo to the consuming countries where distributors re-pack it themselves. Similar to black rice, red rice bran also offers antioxidant anthocyanins. Among all whole-grain rice, red rice has the most chewiest texture and hence it takes the longest to cook.
Different brands and species may need different cooking preparations; some may need to pre-soak, some may require more water or longer cooking duration. Ensure to follow the cooking instructions on the back panel.
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