Combine rice with protein and vegetables for a healthy dieting meal.
Diet gurus often recommend that you skip starchy carbs when you're trying to lose weight, yet that lean and healthy stir-fried chicken and vegetable dish just doesn't seem to work without a fluffy cushion of steamed rice underneath. Fortunately, not all types of rice are the same. While white rice may be a no-no due to its high carb/low nutrient nature, other types of rice pack a nutritional punch powerful enough to help you send those extra pounds packing.
You can eat as much as 1 to 2 cups per day of whole grain rice, such as brown rice, as part of a healthy diet plan.
Facts About Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are sugars, starches and fibers which are converted to glucose in your body and then carried through your bloodstream to provide energy. Foods high in sugars and starches, but low in fiber and other nutrients, such as white bread, pasta, cookies, pastries, crackers and white rice, cause a sudden rise in your blood sugar levels. Your body responds to this by sending out insulin to absorb all of the extra sugar. This can then cause you to feel hungry, which encourages overeating.
Brown Rice vs. White Rice
Rice has four basic components: the outer hull, bran, germ and endosperm. Brown rice is a whole grain, meaning that the hull, which is not edible, is removed while the rest of its structure is left intact. In order to create white rice, the bran and germ, which contain most of the grain's fiber, vitamins and minerals, are removed, leaving only the endosperm.
The more vitamins, minerals and especially fiber a grain contains, the more time it takes to digest. This means that brown rice will not give you the sudden insulin spike that white rice does. The B vitamins, magnesium and phosphorus in brown rice support your body's metabolic functions, strengthen your bones, provide energy and help fight diseases.
Every cup of brown rice contains 5 grams of fiber, which aids in elimination and also helps keep you feeling full. So, if you want to include rice in your diet, brown rice is a healthier and more effective choice than white rice.
Exotic Rice Varieties
Brown rice and white rice are not your only choices if you want to include rice in your weight-loss plan. Sprouted rice is germinated as though for use in growing rice plants, which increases its nutritional value. Sprouted rice is high in a compound called gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which is believed to support heart health and to help regulate your mood. Since such problems as stress, sadness or boredom can lead to overeating, it could be worth a try to see whether adding 1 or 2 cups of sprouted rice to your meal plan might help curb emotional eating.
Black rice is a medium-grain rice cultivated in China. It has a nutty flavor and is high in anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants like the ones found in blueberries. Antioxidants help reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers and help fight the outward signs of aging.
Wehani rice is a long-grain heirloom rice that smells like buttered popcorn when it cooks. It has a deep golden color and tastes like basmati rice, which may be too strong for more delicate palates. Wehani rice is not commonly found in supermarkets and may be difficult to find unless you order it online.
Understanding Wild Rice
Wild rice has long and slender grains; a rich, glossy dark color; deep, nutty flavor; and a distinctive, slightly crunchy bite. Though it's high in B vitamins, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, wild rice is not actually rice. Native to North America, wild rice is actually the seed of a grass that grows in water and was a staple of Native American cuisine. Wild rice takes a full 60 minutes to cook, though you can cut that time in half by soaking it for 30 minutes. Its strong flavor works well with beef and game meats and can also add texture and flavor to cold salads.