Red rice is a nutritious choice compared to white rice due to its abundance of vital vitamins and antioxidants, along with its high-quality soluble and insoluble fiber content. What distinguishes red rice from other varieties is its red bran layer, which is rich in anthocyanin content. People seeking to shed pounds, manage diabetes, and improve overall health are increasingly turning to red rice for these advantages.
It’s important to note that when we refer to red rice, it’s not a singular variety but rather a category encompassing several types commonly found in India. These include Palakkad Matta, Rakthashali, navara, Bhutanese red rice, and more. So, let’s delve into how red rice contributes to various health benefits and how to increase your daily intake of red rice.
Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Red rice is a nutritional powerhouse, boasting a wealth of essential vitamins and minerals that are vital for maintaining good health. It is packed with nutrients like iron, zinc, and magnesium. What sets it apart is its anthocyanin pigmentation, which is rich in potent antioxidants. These antioxidants not only combat inflammation but also play a role in safeguarding against chronic diseases.
In addition, red rice is a great source of vitamin B6, which supports the production of serotonin, red blood cells, and DNA. What’s more, it is low in fat and loaded with dietary fiber, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a nutritious and balanced diet.
Low in Glycemic Index
Red rice is a healthier option for people with diabetes compared to white rice because it has a low glycemic index of 63.15 ± 2.63 mg/dl. A research published in Nutrition and Metabolism showed that red rice extract can effectively reduce fasting blood sugar levels. This study focused on individuals with type 2 diabetes who took the extract twice daily for 12 weeks. The results revealed significant reductions in both fasting blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c measurements over the course of three months.
Improves Heart Health
Red rice is a valuable source of magnesium, which helps reduce the risk of heart attacks. Additionally, it contains proanthocyanidins, chemical compounds responsible for its red color, that regulate the body’s inflammatory response and offer protection against cardiovascular diseases. Including whole grains like red rice in your diet can also decrease the likelihood of arterial plaque formation, lowering the risk of heart disease.
Improves Gut Health And Digestion
Red rice outperforms white rice in terms of dietary fiber content, with just 0.23 grams of crude fiber per 100 grams in white rice compared to 2.7 grams in red rice. Among different rice varieties, red rice boasts the highest dietary fiber content at 3.49%. Additionally, red rice contains anthocyanins, which have been shown to enhance the gut microbiome, promoting improved gut health and digestion.
May Protect Against Cancer
The ample fiber content and the anti-inflammatory compounds found in rice bran could potentially offer protection against cancer. Red rice, containing essential minerals like magnesium, manganese, and selenium, can also act as potent antioxidants by binding with free radicals in the body.
Intaking 30 grams of fiber daily has been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Furthermore, fiber has the ability to attach itself to carcinogenic substances and other toxins within the body, aiding in their elimination from the system. All these can contribute to a lower risk of developing cancer.
Protects Against Hypertension
As previously mentioned, red rice is a valuable source of magnesium, a mineral that plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure and maintaining a healthy sodium balance in the body.
Protects Against Obesity
Red rice, owing to its high fiber content and its ability to support healthy bowel and metabolic functions, can be beneficial for weight management. Research has indicated that the polyphenols found in red rice can also aid in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation associated with obesity, further contributing to its potential role in weight management.
Other Health Benefits of Red Rice According To Ayurveda
- According to Ayurveda, the human body is believed to consist of four humors: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Rakthashali, a specific type of red rice, is known for its effectiveness in balancing these bodily humors. It has been traditionally used to treat conditions such as fever and ulcers and is believed to offer benefits for eyesight, skin health, and fertility.
- Navara, another variety of red rice, is highly regarded in Ayurveda for its therapeutic properties. It is believed to be beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as cervical spondylitis, paralysis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, Navara is known for its potential to alleviate backaches and ulcers. Moreover, it serves as a nutritious weaning food for underweight infants, demonstrating its versatility in traditional Ayurvedic practices.
- Water prepared by soaking and boiling red rice is traditionally believed to have medicinal properties and can be helpful in managing various health issues. It is often used to alleviate symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. Additionally, this rice water is considered beneficial for addressing chest pain and can be applied topically to wounds and burns to aid in the healing process in traditional remedies.
- Kafalya, a specific variety of red rice found in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, is traditionally known for its potential to assist in the treatment of complications that may arise from abortion.
How To Increase Red Rice Intake In Your Daily Diet?
While red rice is undoubtedly nutritious, its distinct taste may not be to everyone’s liking, especially for those accustomed to white rice. Instead of making a sudden switch, a gradual transition is a good approach. You can start by replacing small portions of white rice with red rice in your meals. For instance, when preparing typical South Indian breakfast items like idli, dosa, or appam, try substituting half a cup of white rice with red rice to minimize the impact on taste. Similarly, for lunch, consider using a quarter portion of red rice and three-quarters white rice as a gradual change.
Once you become accustomed to the flavor of red rice, you can explore a variety of dishes to incorporate it into your diet, such as dosai, idli, pongal, appam, semiya, uppuma, kichadi, idiyappam, pathiri (a type of flatbread), and many more. This approach allows you to enjoy the health benefits of red rice while still satisfying your taste preferences.