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THE HEALTH BENERFITS OF BASMATI RICE Rice is one of the world’s most popular staples and consumed by 80% of the British population. Rice is classified as a starchy food (along with potatoes, bread and cereals) and as such is one of our main sources of carbohydrate and plays an important role in a healthy diet1. As well as providing energy, rice contains other essential nutrients such as B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin) vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron and fibre2. Rice can be a healthier choice compared with other starchy foods as once cooked it is relatively low in calories (e.g. compared with bread and crackers) and it is also naturally low in salt and sugar (e.g. compared with some processed cereals). Rice is easy to digest and rarely causes any allergy or digestive problems, this makes it a good alternative to many of the wheat based products (such as bread and pasta) that dominate the UK diet3. The Department of Health recommend that we all try to choose wholegrain versions of starchy carbohydrate foods as these are higher in fibre4. As well as providing more fibre, brown (wholegrain) rice has a higher proportion of naturally occurring substances that may be important for our health. These substances can act as antioxidants protecting our body cells from damage, and they may also have an anti-inflammatory effects5. Despite the common perception that starchy carbohydrate foods are ‘fattening’, diet trials containing rice, particularly brown rice, have been shown to help overweight and obese people to lose weight6. This is likely to be because most long grain rice types have a low or medium GI (glycaemic index). Brown and white Basmati rice have the lowest GI scores which makes them the best choice in tackling the obesity battle7. First of all it means that Basmati rice takes longer to digest which in turn means it releases energy slowly. This prevents spikes in blood sugar levels and instead keeps them stable. The knock on effect is to control appetite and keep us feeling fuller for longer. A few studies have observed an association between rice consumption and risk of diabetes in Asian populations. While more research is needed, it is likely that this may be linked to ‘sticky’ rice, which has a much higher GI. A large study in the US found that eating brown rice was associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes8.


DID YOU KNOW? • White Basmati rice has a lower GI than other types of white long grain rice, which means it is better for keeping blood sugar levels healthy • Brown (wholegrain) Basmati rice has the lowest GI of all rice so it is the best choice for keeping you feeling fuller for longer which can aid weight loss. • The slow release energy from Basmati rice makes it a good choice for endurance sports such as long distance cycling and running. • Basmati rice contains nutrients known to have the potential for reducing risk factors for heart disease: linoleic acid, vitamin E, selenium and folate. • Brown Basmati provides additional fibre which can help to keep your gut healthy.

• Brown Basmati rice is a good source of magnesium which is lacking in some people’s diets. Magnesium is important for bone health. • People who have poor intakes of magnesium may be at greater risk of obesity, atherosclerosis, hypertension, osteoporosis, DM and cancer. • Basmati rice high in resistant starch which favourably modifies the microflora in the large bowel, this is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, some cancers and infections. • Recent studies have shown that naturally occurring resistant starch increases satiety and reduces food intake. It may also help burn fat and may lead to lower fat accumulation. • Wholegrain Basmati rice is a nutrient rich grain which can help to improve health and reduce risk of various diseases through the effects of its various components.


REFERENCES 1. 2. FSA (Food Standards Agency) (2002) McCance and Widdowson’s The composition of foods, 6th Summary Edition. Royal Society of Chemistry: Cambridge. 3. 4. Fabian C and Ju YH (2011) A review on rice bran protein: its properties and extraction methods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 51(9):816-27 5. Ryan EP, Heuberger AL, Weir TL, Barnett B, Broeckling CD, Prenni JE. (2011) Rice bran fermented with saccharomyces boulardii generates novel metabolite profiles with bioactivity. J Agric Food Chem 59(5):1862-70. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

6. Foster-Powell K, Holt SHA, Brand-Miller JC. 2005. International table of glycaemic index and glycaemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr 76:5_56. 7. Aller EE, Abete I, Astrup A, Martinez JA, van Baak MA. (2011) Starches, sugars and obesity. Nutrients. 3(3):341-69. 8. Sun Q, Spiegelman D, van Dam RM, Holmes MD, Malik VS, Willett WC, Hu FB. (2010) White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women. Arch Intern Med.170(11):961-9.


The Health Benefits of Basmati Rice  
The Health Benefits of Basmati Rice  

As part of her clinical practice, Dr. Sarah Schenker has written a study on the role of rice in UK diets. Here, you can download a condensed...